The switch to sweets is unclear at El Bulli (as is the nature of the whole dinner and many of the courses). Our meal had already been underway for hours at this point. You would be flagging too, I promise. I keep thinking about this, and even if I look at the pictures and think critically, I can't understand the thematic development. It's hard for me to believe that they serve you 30+ things with no effort to connect between them though. As I said before with some of the weirder courses, I believe that the chefs mean everything they're doing. It just may be that they're more used to the challenging stuff than the diners are, and similarly that transitions that look clever on paper are too complex for someone to grasp when they're eating. 'Cuz it's eating, after all.
Would I go back? Sure, I guess. I love the fact that the menu was completely different than anything I had seen from previous years. Some of the techniques persisted, some of the flavors were similar, but it was all new. I got no sense, none at all, that the kitchen is past its prime or that the chefs are repeating past glories (the skeptic says "because they had none!" haha). Look at the lack of nitro use, the judicious application of foam, the limited quantities of LYO or whatever other processes and chemicals have been reviled in the past. I don't know what it's growing and evolving into, but the experience is certainly growing and evolving.
Also, I dispute the oft-muttered statement that the produce is low-quality. Where there was produce in its natural form (the shellfish and cephalopods being prime examples, except when they were filled with frozen sweets), the quality was excellent. Most of the produce is remodeled so extensively that you can't tell what it was like originally, and I think that's the real problem for people in our terroir-driven, locally-sourced, 'cut the nuts off the bull myself' high-end restaurant culture. I really don't care if the vegetable or mineral was free range, battery-raised or chemically grown; I just want it to taste good.
But you can tell from the above that I had no great love for the taste. The experience, sure. But the food had too much nuttiness and too much Asian-ness for me, and I missed the traditional arc of a grand dinner through cold, hot, veg, fish, meat and sweet. I guess if I could have understood what they were trying to do it might have been better, but the fact remains that if the food doesn't connect with the diner, the experience will miss something. As this did, for me.
But it wasn't missing enough to make me unhappy or bitter, and you know why? Because it was fascinating! I don't think there's a rule that says a restaurant is a place that offers things that taste great according to a certain set of criteria. I got to eat things I've never eaten before - ingredients, tastes, textures, the whole lot. Couple that with the joy of the unexpected and the occasional straight-up delicious item, and you've got a world-beating proposition.
That's why I plan to...well, probably give it a year or two before even trying to apply again. There's still a lotta foie and sashimi I'd like to eat.