It was a dream of mine to dine at Tickets one day. The innovative tapas bar created by Albert Adrià and inspired with the help of his brother, Ferran Adrià. These two continue to push the boundaries of the culinary world and are mainly known for their former 3-star Michelin Catalan restaurant, El Bulli, which was named “World’s Best Restaurant” several times before shutting its doors.
Albert wanted to bring those molecular gastronomy methods and creativity to Barcelona. In 2012, he opened Tickets, a colorful and playful Michelin starred tapas bar.
I’m always up for a challenge and Tickets’ reservation system gave me a good one. They accept online reservations up to two months in advance with each day opening up at exactly midnight. I was staying in Barcelona for 4 nights, so I had 4 opportunities to acquire the coveted reservation. All 4 nights were immediately filled after being released. Damn! I continued to try the next few nights with no luck. A couple weeks before leaving for Spain, I was still trying to see if anything would open up. Laying in bed at 2am, I was finally able to obtain a reservation for one! Yes!
Barcelona was my first stop on my trip to Spain. It was a Tuesday night and the dinner I’ve been looking forward to was actually happening. It was a short taxi ride from my hotel. Upon arrival, I was greeted by the friendly woman at the Tickets booth, who led me inside. I was seated at the counter where I could watch all the action.
I ordered a glass of white wine and decided to do the tasting menu. A multi-course meal of various snacks, tapas, and finger foods.
The talented team of chefs quickly got to work carefully assembling all their creative little bites and small plates for all the lucky diners that night.
The first course consisted of 3 different snacks – a small bowl of pistachios, a peanut, and a small pizza.
It was sort of funny to begin with a typical snack of nuts. At least it looked like an ordinary bowl of nuts.
Inside the small bag were pistachios that have been coated in a light tempura batter and fried. They made for some savory crunchy bites.
The False Peanut looked like an ordinary peanut, but it turned out to be a soft creamy concentrated peanut butter molded into the shape of a peanut shell. A sweet way to excite the palate.
The final snack was the Crunchy Pizza with Bufala Straciatella. I recognized this one since it was one of their most popular tapas on the menu. A super thin crispy crust dusted with dehydrated tomato, micro basil, and small spheres of basil oil and creamy burrata around the outer edge. It really did taste just like a pizza.
There’s a video above the bar with clips of the Adrià brothers showcasing some of their culinary creations and adventures. Hi, Ferran!
Up next were the legendary el Bullí olives. Now, I really don’t like olives. I never did for some odd reason. I knew that I could not pass up these famous olives though. I had to try them!
What makes these olives so unique is the fact that they are not solid olives. It’s actually a soft delicate sphere encasing an intense olive purée that instantly dissolves once its in your mouth.
For somebody that does not like olives, these were incredible! I finally understood what all the hype was about. You’re brain is ready for an ordinary olive, but the unique liquid sphere blows you away. These may be life changing. You will see other chefs imitate these marvelous morsels, but the Adrià brothers will forever be known as the original creators.
Soon after finishing the olives, a plate of oysters appeared in front of me. Yes! There were two kinds: the first was an oyster with a grilled melon consommé. The second oyster had a slightly sweet citrus broth. They were refreshing, slightly briny, and delicious.
The next savory bite was the Eel Bun with a piece of smoked eel placed inside a mini soft bun with an aioli type sauce and thinly sliced green onions.
This turned out to be one of my favorite dishes. Both the bun and eel were soft and buttery.
The next finger food took the classic Pan con Tomate to another level. The Semillas de Tomate y Anchoa was a slice of crispy bread topped with tomato seeds, an anchovy filet, and filtered potato flakes. It was very good.
Another familiar dish followed. The famous Mini Airbags were light puffed pitas filled with Manchego foam and topped with a thin slice a aged Manchego, a sprinkle of paprika, and olive oil caviar. Wow! It was a glorious cascade of textures and flavors.
The more substantial small plates followed the single bites and finger foods. A plate of Foie Gras and Garlic was presented. Spain really likes their foie gras! I already enjoyed a couple foie gras dishes prior to coming to Tickets. So rich, so buttery, so amazing.
It was served with a basket of toasted bread to spread the rich tender foie gras. It spread onto the bread nicely and made for some heavenly bites.
A beautiful colorful dish soon followed. It was the Tomato Salad with Gazpacho Gelée – fresh ripe tomatoes paired with a white tomato water gelatin, basil, and cucumber oil. A refreshing dish after the super rich foie gras. Fantastic.
So they pretty much keep serving you food until you say stop. I was starting to get full at this point, but I had to try a few more dishes. Baby Squids with Escalibada and Squid Ink was served next. Escalibada is a traditional Catalan dish of smoky grilled vegetables.
The baby squids were tender and the squid ink and grilled vegetables created a savory salty sauce.
Another finger food was served up. This mini Chicken Skin Burger packed a lot of flavor and turned out to be another favorite. The chicken skin was very thin and crispy. So good!
At this point, I was pretty full and mentioned to the waitress that I’d like one more dish (before dessert of course). I’m glad I did because the Pork “Ribs” were fantastic.
They looked like a couple of ribs, but they were not ribs at all. It was a tender and juicy piece of roasted pork. No bones here.
I was more than satisfied and ready for dessert. I switched to a nice red wine and the dessert courses were ready to be prepared.
I heard a bell ring and turned around to find a small ice cream cart being pushed towards the counter. I was all smiles. I couldn’t help becoming excited like a kid hearing the ice cream truck coming down the street. Such a cute idea. It stopped right behind me and the first dessert began assembly.
The mini cone was filled with a lemon cream and a spoonful of custard.
He then took the whipped cream dispenser and topped it off with a creamy foam. It was then quickly torched and browned. Oh, it was a meringue. Nice!
The cone was presented in a small flower pot filled with chocolate soil. Don’t eat the soil.
The next dessert was once of the coolest things I’ve ever seen. Wine Corks were brought out on a Tickets wine bottle filled with wood chips.
The edible cork was made of sponge cake that was filled with hazelnut chocolate. It was amazing!
The final dessert was a tiny cupcake. A tiny Whiskey Cupcake to be exact. The sweet little cake was served in an edible muffin wrapper and served with a small pipette dropper of bourbon to inject into it. Yum!
The superb meal ended with a refreshing shot of citrus liquor.
The bill was presented in a vintage saffron tin box.
I thanked the chefs and waitress several times before leaving. This was one unforgettable dining experience. I am so glad I was able to get a reservation. I highly recommend trying the fun and unique tapas at Tickets. Be persistent with the reservations. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
I would love to come back and try some other tapas that weren’t served on that night’s tasting menu. The classic dishes will always remain on the menu, but many of the foods and flavors change according to the season and what’s available. I’m interested in the Adriàs’ other restaurants as well, even more reason to return to the wonderful city of Barcelona.
Ave del Paraŀlel, 164
08015 Barcelona, Spain