[Spain: Barcelona] Tickets - 1 Michelin Star Tapas Bar by Ferran Adria
After San Sebastian, our next stop in Spain was Barcelona and the first dinner we had was at the ever popular Tickets - 1* tapas bar by Ferran and Albert Adria of the legendary elBulli! I didn't have the chance of trying elBulli before it closed but Tickets presented another opportunity to try the creations of the Adria brothers so I definitely had it on my restaurant wish-list in Barcelona. Reservations are not exactly easy at Tickets but all it takes is a little planning and dedication. The online booking systems opens exactly 60 days before at midnight (Spain time which means 6am Hong Kong time), and all of the seats were snatched up within 10 minutes. Aside from the reservation pains, the dining experience at Tickets turned out to be really amazing and totally worth the hype so I highly recommend eating here if you get a chance!
We were seated at the counter and got front row seats to the action in the kitchen in front of us.
The menu is divided into sections such as appetizers, food that require no utensils, oysters, and bigger plates to share within your party. You can order a la carte or let the staff curate a tasting menu which is what we did since it was our first time here. We didn't how many courses there would be or what we would be getting so for awhile the food just kept coming and we would be delighted by almost each and every one of them!
The presentation of the Pink Flamingo (11€) was a show-stopper with smoke coming out of the drink when it was poured into the glass. It's described as the most famous 41° Gin & Tonic with 3 simple ingredients - Bombay gin, tonic water and purple shiso tea. The smell of the shiso was very strong and appealing but taste-wise I'd prefer something a little sweeter.
We started off with these Charity Olive-S (2.5€) which is a famous molecular gastronomy dish first introduced at elBulli back in 2005. The liquid olives are made to look like real olives but readily bursts in your mouth with the slightest bite. I've had this creation quite a few times at different places already in Spain and Hong Kong, but my favorite version would have to be the ones at Disfrutar which is a restaurant started by 3 ex-chefs from elBulli!
The Crostini (4.9€) with marinated white anchovy on crispy chicken skin was a bit salty for me though.
Baby Cuttlefish with piparra emulsion (2.9€)
Gorgonzola and Anchovies Pizza (4€)
The Basil Air Waffle (3.9€) with scamorza cheese and pine nuts was surprisingly delicious! The waffle was perfectly crispy and chewy while the combination of the flavors was just amazing.
Tomato Salad with ponzu sauce (4.2€)
The Crunchy Nigiri with aubergine (3.9€) was a delightful dish and an interesting take on a classic Japanese nigiri sushi. The "rice" was a crunchy hollow wafer topped with a slice of aubergine "neta".
The Potato and Nori Cube with spicy tuna tartare (4.2€) would prove to be even more impressive with its innovative take on the gunkan-maki sushi by replacing the nori (seaweed) and rice with a crunchy potato cube lined with seaweed!
Mini Airbag with manchego cheese (3€)
Nordic Landscape with marinated and smoked tenderloin (5.6€)
The Maison Mitteault Foie Gras in escabeche sauce (23€) was irresistibly flavorful and perfect as a spread on the crunchy bread.
Tickets has 12 different oyster flavors which pay homage to a different city and the one we were given to try was the Trip to Seoul Oyster with kimchi and yuzu (5.6€).
Smoked Eel Mini Ciabatta with soy gelatine (5.2€)
The Crunchy Octopus with kimchi mayonnaise and pickles (16.8€) was definitely one of the highlights of the meal with the perfectly-textured octopus and balanced flavors, and I liked how they balanced the flavors by having the pickles on the side as a palate cleanser.
The Vegetals Spaghetti with Portobello pil pil (17.2€) was not as good as the one at Azurmendi but still good in its own way.
Our last savory course was a flavorful Bresse Quail stuffed with eggplant (18.5€) that was carved right in front of us.
For desserts, we were led to a separate room and the staff pulled away the curtains in a dramatic fashion to reveal a scene straight out of Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory! The whole ceiling had been decorated with giant strawberries and candy canes, and I just loved how playful the whole room was which got me really excited to try the desserts here.
The room even had multiple TV screens showing scenes from the Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory movie.
We arrived at our seats to find our first dessert waiting for us already - The Rose (3.2€) with lychee and raspberry sphere encased in a rose water gelatin. We took the rose from the glass and gently sucked the gelatin sphere off the rose where the aroma of the rose blended perfectly with the dessert.
The desserts at Tickets continue to impress with this luscious Tatin cone with apple, vanilla and toffee (3.6€) which was like a twist on apple tarte tatin.
The Ticket's baklava (5.3€) with philo pastry, pistachio and orange blossom honey arrived in a waft of smoke which played with all of our senses.
Peach and black tea drink
Our last dessert was the Gianduja-filled "Polvoron" (3.5€) which is a type of Spanish dessert with a very soft and crumbly texture that was served with a chocolate drink.
The dining experience at Tickets was impressive from beginning to end and one-of-a-kind as it is not bounded by any traditions or rules. The restaurant was very whimsical and playful while the food was innovative and awe-inspiring - the creativity of the dishes here is just endless. I loved eating at the Tickets and it's definitely one of my favorite restaurants in Spain!
Avinguda del Paral·lel, 164 - 08015 Barcelona, Spain
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