Tickets Bar, Barcelona (part 1/2)

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1 ✻ Michelin Guide 2016

No.29 San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2016

visited Dec 16

Dinner at Tickets is as much about the food as it is about the overall whimsical atmosphere of the bar. My party opted to choose specific dishes from the a la carte tapas menu, and we all had  good time in the relaxed, playful tapas bar. With excellent service and killer tapas to match, Tickets was undeniably one of the most enjoyable meals overall amongst the meals I had during my very brief trip to Spain.

We had a reservation at 7 and we arrived slightly early just as the staff meeting was drawing to a close and were quickly ushered to a table. Everyone knows that Spainiards enjoy late (and long) dinners and so 7 was really goddamn early but having skipped lunch we had a decent appetite going. Rounds of cocktails and beer opened up the meal. Estrella is the go-to drink around here so it seemed an appropriate choice.

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Can’t quite remember this cocktail. Was it a Beet Royale?

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With its relaxed atmosphere and dedicated service staff, we all felt very comfortable and amidst lively conversation our first tapas dish arrived, a baby cuttlefish in piparra sauce. That’s a pepper from Northern Spain. Incredible tenderness – but not the only seafood dish to impress to be sure.

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The famous liquid olives descended upon us shortly after. Infused in anise and a bunch of other aromatics then spherified, these olives exploded in an intense symphony of herbal and savoury olive-y flavours. Nothing quite like these (though the Disfrutar olives come close).

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A tempura of Codium seaweed in a lemon-seaweed sauce was served next. These were served with a pair of tweezers – a whimsical but practical touch. The seaweed had an excellent tempura, evenly coated, thin, crispy, flavourful, and a delicately seared seaweed with a bit of bite.

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This was a bit of a blind order but it sounded promising and it did not disappoint. It turns out that the calix porex in the dish refers to a kind of roe from Norway or somewhere. The smoked cream steals the show though. Supremely light and airy and a lingering smoky flavour that melds perfectly with the roe. Garnished with a touch of lemon. What a stunner.

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Manchego ‘airbags’ came next, a teasingly playful name that beheld technical mastery and Tickets’ signature element of theatricity. The airbags were liquid manchego-filled pastries of super-thin dimensions.

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Nordic landscape. Thin sliver of smoked beef tartare on a crispy cracker with shallots and dill on top. I imagine the Nordic landscape tends to be somewhat snowy at times and the white powder you see on the plate is actually vinegar powder. Nice sweet touch to the vinegar which we were instructed to dab at with our fingers before eating the tapa.

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Some Estrella Damm Inedit flowed forth at this point and it was really quite the jam – light refreshing with a lovely nose that went quite well with he general vibe at the tapas bar.

fullsizerender-13Basil air waffles. super light and delicately crispy.

fullsizerender-9Smoked eel ciabatta with soy gelatin and chipotle sauce. Quite hot but a real kick to it. The soy goes excellently with the eel and there is some crazy umami/spicy situation going on.

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Really great octopus dish up next. Octopus features quite regularly on the menus in Barcelona tapas bars, and its also usually grilled with some kind of spicy seasoning. This too was grilled (and breaded?) but served with sweet mini pepinos, a kind of pickle that wasn’t as tart as i expected. Texture plays a big role here, with the lovely crispy breadcrumbs and the crunchy pickles juxtaposing the springy squid and smooth kimchi mayo inside the octopus. (so tender). We were told to take a slice of octopus followed by a pickle which really did the trick.

tickets_013.JPGThis is another great dish. Don’t quite recall what it’s called and it’s not on the online menu but it’s essentially a pea and sea urchin dish. The said urchins are from off the coast of Galicia and the peas and the green broth are absolutely incredible. Must order.

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Suckling pig tacos. The big leaf was really quite pleasant and wasn’t in the least bit vegetal or leafy. Served with some cucumber and garnished with some plants. Incredibly fatty suckling pig with great texture. So good.

cuisine: 25/25 | aesthetic: 15/15 | technicality: 15/15 | originality : 15/15 | ambience: 15/15 | service: 10/10 | value: 5/5

aggregate score: 100

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