Front entrance to Tickets Bar in Barcelona
Details of Ferran's elBulli days in Roses, Spain
Map of some of the best tapas in Spain. Mapa de algunos de los mejores sitios para tapear en España.
Anthony Bourdain has claimed that "This is the best place in the Western world to eat." He was referring to Spain as a whole, but specifically had just finished a meal at the acclaimed and mythical elBulli. For years and years I dreamed of one day dining there, the Costa Brava institution made famous by Ferran Adrià. With numerous Michelin stars, repetitive years named as the Best Restaurant in the World and at the tip of the tongue of all the who's who in the foodie industry, it's a dream for many people. However, when I finally had this dream a little closer to reality, some 200 kilometers, I was even further illusioned. Then my bubble burst, and Adrià and company announced that the restaurant would be shutting its doors on July 30th, 2011. My call never came, despite my efforts with various dates and emails sent to the elBulli reservation center or the pacts I made with random Facebook friends - "If you get the call promise that you'll take me." Then something really great happened. Ferran, his brother Albert and their partners the Iglesias brothers, announced that a new restaurant would open in Poble Sec known as the theater district of Barcelona, a tapas bar, that would be more accessible to the masses. After months of stalking the development process on the corner of Avinguda del Paral·lel, the Adrià brothers and crew finally published that Tickets would be open for diners in late spring. By the time I got to the website (the only place where you can make a reservation) the wait time was three months. In fact, in the first ten days they received over four thousand reservations. Never mind that detail, I had succeeded in getting one and didn't care that I would wait a quarter of a year to sit down inside that ever so tempting red carpeted entrance lined with velvet rope.
I'm lucky, I eat a lot of good food, not quite as much as this guy, or this guy, they are my idols, but I often sit down to nice meals, or am treated to a home cooked guiso or pescaito. So I was quite content when I left the doors of Tickets having relished in possibly the most enjoyable meal I've ever had. It was such an interactive experience, all of the plates were served with some element of "play," whether within the wording as reference to a particular region of Catalonia or Spain or a homage to a childhood memory, like cotton candy at the circus. While we attending in the first few months of the restaurant's opening, I would bet that Michelin stars and a top 50 world's best restaurant nomination are in order for the young venture.
Tickets serves roughly 80 guests per night. The experience of every customer is respected and the food revered. The plates came one after another - I suppose in that clockwork fashion drawn from elBulli, where you have an illusion of time, even though you just ate 39 courses- not rushed, the flavors elevating from soft tones to the heartier and meatier options- yet always light in that ever present resonance of "la vida tapa" as well as thrown in surprises, and later terminating with the sweet notes of dessert. The entire menu was modern, the ingredients of the utmost quality, the association and devotion to the land and sea surrounding Catalonia notable and celebrated. Yet the foundation of many dishes were clearly rooted in familiar Spanish classics; Andalusian, Galician and Catalan recipes one has found in neighborhood bars for decades.
The menu is separated into various categories, you can choose according to your likes (gusto), a la carte, or with the help of your server go for the "surprise degustation." Your server will ask you simple questions, for example "Shrimp, oysters or lobster, what is your preference?" or you tell them "I eat everything but roasted peppers." From this they build your table's personalized menu, which added an element of curiosity, envy, as well as pride when you realized that your table was enjoying something another didn't have, and vice versa.
The below list is how our table of four enjoyed dinner at Tickets Barcelona. The pictures that follow are not inclusive of our entire meal, but I hope they help paint a picture of just how interesting, unique and delightful it was. I've broken it down according to the sections of the menu, then listed our plates according with that category. As head chef Albert mentions, Tickets is not meant to be a substitute for elBulli, nor a copycat (it simply highlights some of the tapas made famous there), but does intend to search out it's own identity in the coming months and years. I'm confident with the vision they currently hold, they will achieve their deserved recognition (Michelin stars and more??) and continue to satisfy their clientele.
-Fruit "impregnated" with sangria as a refreshing cocktail
-The olives by Tickets Gordal & Verdial varieties gordal adobada
-Variety of Pescaíto Frito seasoned with Galician seafood powder
-Mini airbags stuffed with Manchego cheese and Iberian pork belly
El Picoteo (spanish word for "picking" or light eating)
- Jamón del toro (de la carta de elBulli) : Slices of tuna belly brushed with Iberian cured ham fat
- Spiced tomate steak tartare with bread crisps
- Raw oysters with their "pearls"
Xuxis (single serving or small sandwiches to eat with your hands)
-Molleta de papada : braised pork jowl in mini sandwich
- Liquid ravioli with cheese Payoyo from Cádiz
Tapas from the sea
- Razor clams in ginger oil with cayenne pepper and lemon foam
- Tickets seared white tuna (bonito)
Tapas from the land
- Fried rabbit ribs with whipped garlic mayonnaise
- Confit potatoes with olive oil, pork rib sauce and Iberian boiled ham
- Chocolate and hazelnut cake in tribute to Catalan pastry chef Antoni Escribà
- Molten turrón de Jijona cake with apricot ice cream
- Hot-cold chocolate fritters (buñuelos)
- Licorice meringue filled with white chocolate truffle and passion fruit cream
Inedit beer Ferran Adrià and company's "elite" to-be-paired-with-food beer. Accents of orange, licorice and coriander
Wine- El Perro Verde - tropical fruits, lemon, ginger, pineapple.
Aside from the aesthetic presentation of the food, the design of the restaurant inside and out is eye-catching, bright, and energetic. Adults are quickly taken back to childhood memories of the summer carnival, and at least in my case, this lighthearted layout set the mood for us to prepare an evening of fun, mystery and illusion.
Sangria spiked watermelon. Sandía con sangría.
The ever famous "Spherical Olives" from elBulli. Las aceitunas esfericas mas famosas de elBulli.
Puffed fried Spanish fish; Homage to the fried fish of Andalusia. Pescaito- Homenaje al pescado de Andalucía.
Another spherification technique. An oyster with it's "pearl". Una ostra con su "perla".
Galician razor clams with ginger, cayenne oil and lemon foam. Navajas con aceite de jengibre, cayena y aire de limón.
Chocolate and hazelnut cake. Pastel de chocolate y avellanas.
Cotton Candy Tree. Árbol de algodón dulce.
The interior of Tickets Bar. El interior del restaurante.
The Master. El Maestro. Chef Albert Adrià.
I also recommend these fabulous professional photos and map of the interior of the restaurant, here.
Avinguda Paral-lel 164
+34 932 92 42 53
Online reservations only
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