It always seemed to me to be a bit of a tacky, touristy "cash cow" and Barcelona has so much quality food to offer - for that reason, I was never too fussed about booking a meal at Tickets.
On a spare evening, with a few formal meals in ‘high end’ places lined up later in the trip, we fancied something a little more relaxed and headed out with a vague intention of eating at either Cañota Casa de Tapes or Lolita Taperia (formerly Inopia) – passing Tickets, my interest was piqued enough to see if we could bag a ‘walk in’.
What they say: “What the Adrià brothers did next…” recently voted the S.Pellegrino 77th Best Restaurant in the World by Restaurant Magazine.
What we ate: Long story short, I asked our waiter to bring us some dishes, asking for, “A mixture of ‘clever stuff’ and ‘stuff that tastes good’… preferably both.” He hooked us up with:
Watermelon Infused with Sangria (Sandía impregnada en sangría) – with mint, coriander and cinnamon; my wife’s favourite new thing.
The Ticket’s Olives (Las Olivas Sféricas del Tickets) - an elBulli favourite.
The Ticket’s Pizza (Las Pizza del Tickets) – wafer base, tomato powder, paprika pearls, mozzarella and basil jelly.
Oyster with Hibiscus Infusion & Orange (Ostra con infusión de flor hibiscus y naranja) Oyster with Passion Fruit Caipirinha (Ostra con Caipirinha de fruta de la passion) – interesting accompaniments for oysters.
Miniairbags stuffed with Manchego Cheese (Mini airbag relleno de queso machego) – filled with creamy Manchego cheese and topped with hazelnut oil ‘caviar’.
Crostini with Tomato Seeds & Cantabrian Anchovies (Xuxi de semillas de tomate) – a classic dish crafted perfectly.
White Asparagus with Truffles Vinaigrette (Espárragos blancos con vinagreta de trufas) – two of my favourite ingredients in white asparagus and truffle with chervil and ‘dried miso’.
Avocado crushed with Codium Jus & Spicy Tuna (Majado de aguacate con atun picante) – an absolutely delightful dish; perfect spicing and the seaweed added a wonderful depth and dynamic.
Razor Clams with Lemon Air (Navajas aire de limo) lovely clams with black garlic (which goes beautifully with seafood.)
Confit Potatoes with Iberian Cured Ham & Pork Rib Jus (patatas confitadas con jugo de costilla de cerdo y Jamón ibérico) – a dish all about flavour… spot on!
“Mollete” with Double Chin (Mollete de papada) – great to see ‘mollete’ on the menu, which are a speciality of Antequera, close to where my parents live. I am used to them as a breakfast dish spread with lard the Adrià version fatty pork ‘chin’ is a little more technical but no less delicious.
Marinated Fried Fish (Fritura de Peix “embarrat”) – with a taste somewhere between ‘Scampi Fries’ and ‘Frazzles’ these were delicious.
Ticket’s Cone (el cornet de Tickets) Ice Cream Box and The Worms (Los gusanos) – fun and flavoursome desserts.
Food high points: on taste alone the best dishes for me were the ‘confit potatoes’ and the ‘avocado and tuna’ dishes. The ‘white asparagus’ and ‘razor clams’ were also pretty special.
Food low points: The ‘pizza’ was perhaps the only dish I wouldn’t bother ordering again but in reality there were no duds.
Décor / ambience: the whole place is a bit Willy Wonka meets Ronald McDonald… in a good way.
Service: Slick, swift and friendly – our waiter also served us at ‘sister restaurant’ Cañota Casa de Tapes a couple of days later, which was a bit of a coinky-dinky!
Verdict (Would I return?): Tickets is a cool place with a great vibe – dishes are fun and flavoursome. That said, I feel that I have now ‘done it’ – I’d be happy to return on our next trip to Barcelona but would most likely prefer to see what else the city has to offer.