Beet Royal – Beet Root, Cherry, Ruinart Champagne
Chicken and Anchovy – Anchovy Butter
Pressed Sandwich – Iberico Jowl, Loin
Almond Ice Cream
Cauliflower – Schrenckii Caviar
Porex of Kalix – Smoked Cream, Hot Radish
Marinated Prawn – Frozen Salt
Piece of Pizza – Beet, Fig
Melon Ceviche – Kumquat Powder, Coriander Oil
Crunchy Nigiri – Flame Eggplant, Soy Pearls
Tuna Belly – Iberian Ham Fat Confited, Cherry Charcoal Josper
Potato Cube – Wagyu Tartare
Airbaguette – Rubia Gallega
Mini Airbag – Machego Cheese Foam, Hazelnut Oil Caviar
Avocado Ravioli – Edible Crab, Chipotle Mayonnaise, Chia Seeds
Nordic Landscape – Marinated Aged Cow, Smoked Cheese, Vinegar Powder
Tomatoes – Basil, Citrus
Mitteault Foie – Smoked Eel
Oyster with its Perl – Apple, Pickled Wakame
Clam – Tomato, Spice, Sesame
Sea Cucumber – “Sobrasada,” Fried Skin, Xinese Tea, Moroccan Lamb
Hake Kokotxa – Pil-Pil, Gordal Olive, Mint
Crunchy Octopus – Kimchi Mayonnaise, Tickets Piparras
Spaghettis and Chanterelles – Baby Eel, Butter, Gorgonzola, Hazelnut Praline
Crunchy Suckling Pig Taco – Hoisin Mayonnaise, Pickled Cucumber
The Rose – Lychee, Raspberry, Rosewater Gelatin
Pumpkin – Ice Cream, Caraelized Confit, Pepitas
Apricot Date – Yogurt Snow
Gofio Sponge Cake – Corn Cream
Frozen Pancake – Caramelized Wafer, Strawberries and Cream Foam
Ticket’s Cheesecake – Shortbread
Chocolate Flower – Coconut, Passionfruit, Mint
Fresier – Burned Sheep Milk, Strawberries, Rhubarb
Baked Alaska – Steam Meringue, Pineapple Sorbet, Basil Oil, Black Pepper
Rivaled by few others in terms of an annoying online reservation system, the sort of place where antiquated systems and high demand require guests to not only be online at the precise moment seats become available but also that they have their time zone set to Barcelona time, it was after failing to secure a seat at Tickets on four consecutive days that the decision was made to reach out via E-mail to ElBarri Tours, a service created by Albert Adria and his team to offer a curated experience at any of their collection of restaurants for a set price depending on the venue.
Originally opened in March 2011, a lone Michelin star awarded in 2014 and still present even as the simultaneously opened 41 Degrees Cocktail Bar has shuttered and several additional Restaurants have joined Albert and Ferran’s post-El Bulli portfolio, Tickets is said to be “a Tapas Bar unlike any other” and from the moment one steps into the space there is little doubt that they are in for a ride, a total of ninety diners for two-turns sat around the eclectic space featuring both a traditional counter as well as several closely-set tables.
As of 2017 ranked #25 on San Pellegrino’s “World’s Top 50 List,” no doubt a partially political decision based on El Bulli’s long tenure at the top as well as the Adria Brothers’ persistent influence on world-wide gastronomy, it was mere moments before 19h00 that the velvet rope was opened with a quick escort to a place just meters from the pass, the €250 pre-paid tab given the kitchen Carte Blanche to serve though a few items were added by request at no additional cost.
Never intended to be a tasting menu the likes of El Bulli or recently opened Enigma, but instead a true Tapas joint where plates come flying from a variety of cooking stations and carts throughout the night, it was as part of the package that a lone server was assigned to present all but sweets throughout the course of a nearly 3-hour stay, the first two items carryovers from El Bulli including an emulsification of Beet Root and Cherry at the base of a glass of Bubbly and the infamous spherical Olives.
Progressing at a fast pace, every item described at length and frequently with instructions about how best to consume it, those expecting a lot of showmanship will not be disappointed in dishes like the Chicken Skin and Anchovy Bones that come across briny and intense nor the Ice Cream Cart Almond Popsicle where guests making the right choice win a prize which in this case was apparently a Sandwich intended to be eaten from one end to the other while progressing from Iberico Jowl to Loin.
Served a total of thirty-four plates throughout the course of the evening, both the Caviar with a Cauliflower-shaped dollop of Cream and Meringue topped in Swedish Fish Roe briny but balanced and well placed in the progression, it was here that another ‘eat the tail, suck the head’ Shrimp was presented with a light hint of Citrus, the Beet and Fig Tortilla served next an off-menu item that was pretty simple while “Melon Ceviche” was a sour and refreshing dish that saw tender Kumquats dominate the flavor profile with a hint of Coriander at the end.
Impressed by a dish called “Crunchy Nigiri,” the ‘filet’ of grilled Eggplant served atop a Rice Cracker Shell with Soy Caviar almost indistinguishable in taste from Tuna Belly, the follow-up of actual Chu-Toro slow-cooked in Pork Fat atop crispy Tapioca Pearls and Seaweed seemed all the more appropriate, another raw dish to follow presenting one of Albert’s famous ‘cubes’ topped in finely chopped Wagyu.
Turning to two classic Sandwiches next, both seen stateside prior from the kitchens of Jose Andres, suffice it to say that little can go wrong with elder Beef Carpaccio wrapped around crisp Bread nor from aged and emulsified Machego, the “Avocado Ravioli” to follow a visually stunning dish with sweet chunks of Crab playing well off the smoky Chipotle Mayonnaise.
Flipping back to Beef momentarily, Rubia Gallega again presented as a thin layer of Ceviche amidst Vinegar Powder as part of a “Nordic Landscape,” it was with palates refreshed by deconstructed Tomato Salad that the evening pressed onward, the followup of spreadable Foie Gras and Smoked Eel a bit more funky than that served at Lasarte in the afternoon and served with a bit too little toast for this diner’s liking.
Strange to see Raw Bar plates so late n the meal, though both the Oyster with an Apple Spherification and a Clam served Bloody Mary-style were nonetheless pleasant, it was here that Chef de Cuisine Fran Agudo move into a progression of five great plates to finish, the Sea Cucumber and Hake throat both briny but delicious while the Crunchy Octopus, Baby Eel ‘Spaghettis’ and Suckling Pig served on a Leaf were all rich but well balanced with the first two particularly memorable for their intense focus on contrasting textures.
At this point moving to the Dessert Room, an area previously appropriated as a Cocktail Bar since redecorated in Candyland fashion with Berries, Flowers and Candy Canes hanging overhead, it was after a brief greeting from Albert Adria that the remainder of the evening was turned over to three pastry Chefs, the “Rose” as a service piece previously seen at Quique Dacosta here topped in palate-cleansing Gelatin followed by a small Pumpkin filled with smooth Ice Cream, intensely sweet Flesh and crunchy Seeds.
Moving next to a Honey-soaked Apricot served next to its liquid and tangy snow, a note on the reservation suggesting that the tour would be ideally focused on tasting several of Albert and team’s award winning Pastries even if that meant forgoing some savory plates, it was next that airy Cornbread was taken from the Microwave and presented with Corn Cream before watching liquid nitrogen freeze a “Pancake” soon to be piped with Strawberry Cream on one side and Vanilla on the other, the resultant Ice Cream Sandwich as impressive in flavor as it was in texture.
Requesting that no more Passion Fruit based items be served after the ornate “Chocolate Flower,” a personal preference that had nothing to do with the dish itself, it was in follow-up that the kitchen presented Albert’s famous Cheesecake which had already been seen replicated that morning at Hofmann Pastisseria while the Fresier and Baked Alaska to follow were each also worthy of imitation, the latter in particular as the creamy Meringue still managed to remain soft after a kiss with the Blow Torch atop poignant Black Pepper that helped to mellow the Pineapple.
No doubt more expensive than the average Tickets visit, though in total the a la carte plates and cocktail actually matched the total cost fairly closely even before accounting for the individualized service and a signed copy of the Tapas: The TICKETS Cuisine presented by Chef Adria, there is little doubt that those looking for a night of fun will enjoy Tickets for exactly what it is, though with Enigma Concept now likely to occupy much of the Chef’s time one does wonder how long the elder restaurant will continue to seem as innovative.