If you’re a bit of a foodie, then you’ll most certainly know the name ‘Adrià’. As in Ferran and Albert Adrià, brothers of the world’s most famous restaurant; El Bulli. Now closed to the public and functioning as a workshop for culinary research, their phenomenal global success hasn’t stopped there. In their resident city, Barcelona, are two restaurants, side by side – the bright and zesty Tickets, drawing in clientele like moths to a flame and its more exclusive brother, the sultry 41 Degrees.
With two further up and coming projects in the city, in the form of a ‘Titty Twister’ (see From Dusk Till Dawn) Mexican and a suave Peruvian/Japanese marriage, the Adrià brothers are blowing full-steam ahead. The predominant concept of all Adrià food and total emphasis is on experience. It’s clear to see the hours of preparation and devotion that have been infused with the food but, above all, they want their clientele to truly enjoy the dishes (as opposed to merely shovelling it into their gobs).
With Tickets tipped to enter the top 50 best restaurants in the world this year, allow me to share a piece of the Adrià-shaped pie by first telling you that this restaurant is all about La Vida de Tapas, although it’s far from the traditional Spanish tapas restaurant that you might envisage. Drawing you into its hedonistic world of colourful lights, whimsical displays and fairground fancy, the restaurant is a creation of interior designer Oliver Franz Schmidt. Prepare to marvel at the many clever details he’s included, such as cress growing from the tabletops and vibrant globes of glass suspended from the ceiling.
At the entrance, a dashing lady in a sharp ringleader jacket – with ’TICKETS’ emblazoned across the back in flashing lights – will lift the rope to let you in. We were ushered directly to the VIP area, in a quiet corner with a view overlooking the restaurant – a buzzy room brimming with chatting, laughing people. When it comes to ordering, you have the choice of electing dishes from the menu yourself or – if you’re feeling footloose and fancy-free – your formal but charming waiter will recommend everything for you, right down to the wine and present each dish with a little description and flourish.
We started with refreshing cubes of watermelon injected with sangria and presented on a bed of ice, with shavings of orange, cinnamon and star anise, which we ate with long, sleek tweezers. These were promptly followed by an El Bulli legacy – exploding olives – laid gently gleaming upon spoons. It looks like an olive. It moves like an olive. But pop that bad boy into your mouth and POW! The soft, gelatinous skin gives way to a burst of pure olive flavour. We were still smacking our lips when the next dish arrived (and the next and then the next…). In total, a glorious thirteen more plates, with a steady stream of red wine.
It’s difficult to choose but highlights included an avocado and crab cannelloni and eggshells filled with a potato cream, truffle and egg. The steamed brioche filled with papada was also melt-in-the-mouth to die for. For dessert, we indulged in a sensational almond soufflé with raspberry sorbet. It sounds simple but the quality, flavour and perfect execution was simply astounding and we were grinning for the duration of the meal.
In life, we either live to work or work to live. The same goes for food and I don’t know about you, but I vivaciously vote for the latter. Tickets is the ultimate example of eating for pleasure and it’s a giddy roller coaster ride of a restaurant that you shouldn’t miss if you’re ever in Barcelona.
– words by Sally Rosetta Gurteen
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