Since I couldn’t make it to Ferran Adrià’s El Bulli back then, a visit at his tapas-bar Tickets was a must for my stay in Barcelona. I love the concept of tapas (of course, they stole it from the Greek mezedes….) and so I was very thrilled what a culinary genius like Adrià would make of this traditional way of enjoying many different flavors in small portions.
Together with our friends Babsi and Jan we had reserved a table two months in advance through the BCN50 website. It was a bit of a run, sitting at midnight in front of the computer, but we got our table 🙂 Tickets is situated in a vibrant area of Barcelona with many nice restaurants and bars around, just round the corner of Pakta. You see the windows from far away:
The entrance already promises what you will get: A circus of flavors, a joyful and uncomplicated evening. Since we were one hour too early the lady at the door recommeded us to have a drink at the Xixbar around the block to pass the waiting time. So we did an had an amazing G&T there – don’t miss it!
The inside holds what the outside promises: Entering Tickets you dive into another world, a colorful and loud circus. Everything you dreamt of as a child: Lights, colors, sugarcandy and smiles everywhere. At first it is a bit overwhelming, but you quickly get used to the atmosphere and this incredibly chilled mood full of curiosity.
After we sat down our waitress introduced herself and brought us the menue. You can order single dishes or have a surprise menue of about 2 dozen dishes, for which you can exclude certain ingredients or have a specific dish included. We went for the surprise menue and ordered a bottle of Cava as pairing. All through the evening the service was swift, very friendly and helpful. Since Tickets is a project by Ferran Adrià we were expecting a lot of molecular tricks…and were positively disappointed.
At Tickets you eat with tweezers, which at first is strange but then becomes more and more natural. Since you are mostly served smal bits and bites, the tweezers are the perfect tool for grabbing them…
We started with 4 very small dishes:
A very nice start into the evening: The water melon was amazing, refreshing and full of fruityness. The temura peanut reminded me of Kelly’s Snips – in the good way. The crackers were a very nice contrast in taste and texture, offering the salty umami notes of the seaweed. The peanuts…well peanuts, no false bottom here.
Very nice one: The seaweed tempura tasted perfectly fresh with the salty twist of the ocean, offering a thrilling contrast between the crunchy crust and the soft seaweed. The seaweed sauce was wonderful – just look at this science-fiction like color 🙂
A signature dish from El Bulli: Spheric olives. Our waitress brought big olive jars in which the „olives“ were pickled. This evening they offered ginger and lemon-garlic-herbs. The experience was amazing: Sliding the olive in my mouth, it felt incredibly soft yet compact. Biting on it, a waxy gel full of taste filled my mouth. Wow!
One of the dishes that never gets old: A slice of crispy bread, mouth watering fruity tomatos and a fresh sardine fillet. So simple, so amazing.
One of the few dishes with a molecular twist this evening: The maccaroni were quite firm with a slight taste of basil, not really special. The parmesan infusion around it was very tasty though. I liked the idea of turning around this traditional dish, although it was not so convincing to me.
Manchego is a traditional part of Spanish tapas. Here it was presented as fluffy, light airbags. A beautiful contrast between your expectation of cheese-texture and the airy texture you actually get.
This one reminded us of Pakta the night before. The piece of foie gras with its intense fatty notes was lightened up by the fruity sauce escabeche. The pickles gave some acidity and spice, great dish!
This was a nice one too: From the looks you would expect something sweet. Actually it was a simple yet sophisticated starter: The tuna and the roe were supported by the intense fruityness of the perfectly ripe tomatos. The cone was very interesting too, adding umami notes and some acidity from the apple.
I love razor clams! These were perfectly fresh, went perfectly with the tomato sauce and were beautifully presented. Nothing more, nothing less.
One of my personal highlights: A very thin slice of rusk, topped with small pieces of raw beef and onion. The meat was so tender, just perfectly temperatured and very juicy. The vinegar powder added a very inspiring acidity to the dish! Wow!
Another déjà-vu from Pakta: Fresh oysters, sauce escabeche. Very nice, but very similar to the ones we had around the corner.
Avocado is always right: The thin slices surrounded a nice crab filling. Nice one, yet not really memorable.
One of the most amazing dishes this evening: The pulpo was wonderfully soft and tasty. The firm, spicy vegetables offered a beautiful contrast in taste and texture. Their green, spicy taste played well along with the grilled and full bodied notes of the pulpo.
Another favorite: I love baby squids so much! Toghether with an almond filling and some sauce escabeche they were just perfect.
Maybe the most sophisticated dish this evening: The perfectly fresh and tasty prawns were topped with some coffee powder. In the pot they served noodles made from mushrooms with parmesan, that added bosky notes and some umami spice to the equation. I liked the combination of the prawn’s sweetness with the coffee powder very much. Also the parallel texture of the prawns and the mushroom noodles (firm, yet waxy) was nice. The soy sauce with coffee brought – to my taste – too much coffee notes into play. Overall very nice, a combination I would have never thought of.
With this one everything was right: Fat, tasty, perfectly marinated meat. The vegetables absorbed this taste bomb just right.
I love sandwiches: This one was so great! Mouth-watering pork (cheek/neck) in a tasty, juicy, slightly sticky bun. I could have eaten 20 of them….
Strawberries and cream: Beautiful things don’t need to be complicated.
Ding-Ding – it’s the ice cream trolley: Our waitress came with an old-school trolley and served us ice cream. The cones were made of thin caramel, the ice cream on top was slightly caramelized with a blowtorch. Very nice, made with a lot of love for small details.
I love chocolate. Toblerone is a childhood memory, the angular chocolate in my moth and the pieces of caramel sticking to my teeth. Tickets hijacked this memory with a great premium interpretation of this legendary chocolate.
More chocolate please: My favorite dessert at Tickets: Soft cocoa waffles with an incredibly tasty chocolate cream and some chocolate flakes. Amazing!
Since we haven’t had enough, we ordered another dessert and got some chocolate rocks. Quite traditional and solid patisserie, fluffy and sweet. Very nice.
Our evening at Tickets was a great experience. It was far more traditional than I was awaiting: Most of the time it was about great products and the traditional tastes of Spain. You could feel the love for the Spanish tradition of eating, drinking and enjoying life together. I liked that very much. And what I’ve learned: Cava is just the perfect pairing for tapas. Since we had visited Pakta the day before, the dishes with sauce escabeche were not really new or surprising to us. But that’s not their fault 🙂 After all it was beautiful, very relaxed food experience, offering a wide variety of tastes. We (4 pax) paid 110 € per person, including tips and two bottles of cava – definetely a good deal if you look at the prices for tapas in other bars of barcelona. Afterwards we went for a nice cocktail at 41° – a relaxed way to end the evening in a cool atmosphere.
PS: It was nice to see that Ferran Adrià was enjoying his meal with a party of friends this evening in the restaurant. Always good to see the boss eating his own food…