What can you say about the meal of a lifetime? David and I are still in awe and amazement that we got into this restaurant last night, thanks to our wonderful concierge at the Mercer Barcelona!
If you know anything about food culture, you know the name Ferran Adria (his restaurant El Bulli was the best in the world until they chose to shut it down). Cutting edge techniques pioneered by Adria are still being copied everywhere. So, when Tickets Bar opened in Barcelona, it became an instant hit and almost impossible to get into (unless you made reservations months in advance).
Let me tell you a little story about just how exclusive this restaurant is. The lovely Australian couple sitting next to us told us this was their second visit to Tickets in two years. The Spanish person renting their apartment to them could not believe it, saying it’s unheard of to get in again so quickly – he lives there and can’t get a reservation like that!
Again, how we scored these seats is a miracle and thanks to this wonderful gentleman for working his magic.
Ok… on to the review!
The moment you see Tickets and enter it, you know it’s not only going to be a delicious evening, it’s going to be fun! The decor and atmosphere is built around a circus theme. No stuffy dining here.
Dave and I sat at the bar, near the oysters and lobsters,and it was fantastic to watch the chefs in action and interact with the servers so much. We also sat at a love seat, which was perfect for us honeymooners!
Our evening began when our server asked us if we wanted to order from the menu, or let her choose for us. Of course, we said… bring it on! It’s way more fun to just get what comes to you and fully enjoy the experience. After helping us choose a glass of Cava, and then a bottle of red to follow for the dinner.. we were off!
The first trio of dishes began with the fake peanut. Basically a tahini or hummus like spoonful, mixed with honey, and shaped into a peanut with a hard glazed shell. It was gooey and sweet. How fun is that? Then, we tasted the seaweed nori, baked to a crisp, with quinoa baked around it – salty and smoky flavour! Then, to cleanse the palette, was an apple slice that was infused with watermelon. Wonderful.
We had heard of the “famous olives” and were excited to try them. Olive oil with lemon zest, star anise and cinnamon – that all comes together looking like a real olive in a spoon. This was an amazing bite, and popped in our mouths with heat that lingered. This was one our our favourite bites of the evening.
The next dish was toast and anchovies, with tomato and silver leaf drizzled on top. The next round of olives followed that was a stronger and deeper taste, with garlic and rosemary. Personally, I loved the freshness of the lemon olives over the garlic ones, but this went perfectly with the anchovies.
One of our favourites of the night were manchego airbags – light (but crispy outside) pastry filled with manchego cheese cream, topped with manchego, caviar and hazelnut flakes. Another burst of smooth, smokey, intense flavour!
One of the most wonderful surprises of the evening was the foie gras with onion, dehydrated corn and garlic. Another warm flavour with a deep smoky aftertaste. We really enjoyed this one.
The next taste returned to seafood, with tuna and nori seaweed, layered with tapioca and avocado – a very distinct and interesting texture.
The next experience was one I swore I would never have, and truly my foodie initiation… beef tartar with onion and smoked cheese. I was nervous, but went for it in the spirit of the night. David explained to me the soy-like smooth flavour I sensed was actually aged beef mixed with pickled onion. I really really enjoyed this one!
The tastings returned to seafood, with a wonderful mojito oyster and smoked mackeral with chanterelle mushrooms.
Possibly the most wonderful dish of the night was next to come. Oyster mushrooms shaved to look and taste like spaghetti noodles with a smoked porcini sauce and parmesan. David called this a umami bomb because of the wonderful taste explosion. We would have never ordered it off the menu, so were really happy that we let the servers bring dishes to us.
The simple-looking dish of mini chicken burgers was much more complex than it looked. A wonderful crispy skin with a hint of lime, and a very light bun with a crunchy top. Delicious.
At that point, the tasting was over, but we asked for more to take full advantage of this amazing experience. We asked our server, Luiggi (from Italy) for his favourites. So, we received pork ribs in san moresco sauce, a rabbit and cauliflower risotto (a wonderful surprise) and avocado wrapped king crab that was a buttery smooth treasure!
After such a well-balanced, delicious and amazing meal (with incredible service)… we had the figs and cheese, chocolate hazelnut corks and vanilla ice cream with cardamom and caramel for dessert.
After such a wonderful meal, David and I walked out smiling from ear to ear… this is an evening we feel incredibly blessed to have experienced and we will never ever forget it!