A little over two months ago, on a mild September night, I was perusing the internet when an idea struck me.
I’m here for three months.
The waiting list for a reservation at Tickets is two months.
If I don’t act now, I’ll never make it!
If you aren’t interested in food, you will never know the sense of accomplishment I felt that night. Purely by chance, I checked the reservation website and BAM! 7.30, table for two, Thursday 27th of November.
So two months went by and I thought little of it – too busy enjoying poached eggs with truffle oil and Brie, fig and caramelised onion toasties at Brunch & Cake. Then, suddenly, I realised I didn’t know who I was going to take! Who would be the lucky guest for this Michelin-starred spectacular?
This lovely woman, that’s who. Mama Morrell came out to visit me (not just for this meal, I hope) and we celebrated in style.
Here begins the gratuitous food porn.
We started with cocktails, naturally. Fiona went for the family drink, a Caipirinha – two was not too many this time, you’ll be pleased to know. I went for a pink lemonade, with gin and shiso, a fragrant herb often used in Asian cooking. It tasted like fruity shisha, and, crested with curling tendrils of smoke, the illusion was complete. It was delicious.
At Tickets, you can choose between ordering à la carte, or having your waiter choose for you. As a strong, independent woman (read: stubborn) with a picky eater for a mother, we did à la carte, and boy did we go to town.
We started with fish crisps: we worked out that it was merely a crisp with calamari dust shaken over it, but that didn’t matter. It set the bar high for what was to come.
Next, the Tickets “olive”. This is world-renowned, as Ferran and Albert Adrià, the family who used to run El Bulli, are masters of the art of spherification. This magical little “olive” is really a soft gelatinous shell filled with olive essence: we had one that was rosemary and citrus fruits, and one that was salt, pepper and garlic. Pretty traditional flavours but an extraordinary experience as they burst in your mouth.
Already the restaurant was filling up, even though it was early by Spanish standards. The ambience was buzzing, alive with oohs and aahs and animated chatter. And, as dish after dish of exquisite tapas was brought out, we had to spy over our shoulders to sneak a peek at what other tables were going for. Fortunately though, that was how I discovered this.
This little cocktail was a juice of orange, carrot and pine, and was quite possibly the most delicious drink I have ever enjoyed. My pink lemonade was light, refreshing, and fairly potent, but this was fruity and flavourful and felt almost healthy.
Then came “manchego airbags”: these crispy puffed crackers encased a smooth truffled manchego cream. The first one I didn’t like so much, but the second, third, fourth, fifth… A different story. Rich in flavour and a satisfying crunch of textures, this previously unexciting cheese really packed a punch.
Next up was, sadly, my favourite dish of the night. I say sadly because it came early in the meal and I also only ordered one. A grave error. This is nori mille feuille with tuna tartare, avocado purée and puffed balls of tapioca that were not dissimilar to Rice Krispies. It was sensational. Like it actually made me a bit emotional when I finished it. I know how tragic that sounds but my favourite thing in the world is tuna tartare, and this was just exquisite. I’m putting aside any professionalism in describing this, I know, but omg. Just look at it. So pretty. I’ve probably just lost the last remaining non-foodie who managed to read this far.
After that, my expectations were higher than ever, so it was fortunate that it was followed by this beauty. This is an avocado cannelloni: wafer-thin slices of perfectly ripe avo stuffed with snow crab. Dreamy. Mama Morrell doesn’t eat avocado, but she swore that the crab was the best she’s ever eaten.
We had ummed and aahed about ordering oysters, as Tickets does a variety of sizes and flavours. We had originally planned on going for a one with a pink cider vinaigrette, but our charming waiter suggested we try the Thai-style. Couldn’t tell you what was in it, can only say it was delicious.
Next up was Fiona’s favourite, the crispy octopus. This ENORMOUS tentacle was so meaty, and rolled in Barcelona’s trademark fried onion crisps it had a delicious strong flavour. This was accompanied by a pak choi forest that was vaguely Seussical, and distinctly ordinary relative to the show-stopping octopus – anywhere else it would have been a standout side dish.
Sadly, this was followed by my least favourite dish, the truffled mozzarella patty. Sort of like a delicate cheese toastie, it was tasty but forgettable. Again, at any other meal, I’m sure it would have been incredible, but after “olives”, tuna tartare, and two-inch diameter octopus, it fell slightly flat.
But, we weren’t finished there, oh no. Next we chose chicken: a rogue choice from both of us – as neither me nor Mama Morrell would ordinarily pick chicken in a restaurant – but such a good one. Crispy chicken-skin crackers topped with very thin slices of rich, succulent chicken, washed down with a consommé tea bag. Bonus points for theatricality.
And, to finish up the savoury courses, classic us, we went for the biggest, baddest steak we could have.
If you were wondering, this is what 60€ of steak looks like. Cooked in a Josper oven, our entrecôte was the perfect way to end a delicious meal.
Except, of course, everyone knows there’s savoury full and sweet full! So, when our waiter offered us the dessert menu, of course we took it. “Well, we might as well have a look…” BS. I knew EXACTLY what I was going to order for dessert as soon as I checked the menu two months previously.
First, (yes, first dessert) we went for tarte tatin, Tickets-style. A crispy pastry cone is filled with delicious cooked apple chunks, and smooth vanilla ice cream, and, served from an ice cream cart.
The next was a treat for Mama: tiramisu. Except here, it has actual coffee beans in, and is served in the most extraordinary way, in a sawn-off coffee cup. I went for the banana waffle: an airy light waffle topped with caramelised banana, vanilla-bean cream, and white chocolate shavings.
And, our final dessert, the Tickets corks. You can’t end a meal without chocolate, and we finished up with these delicious Swiss-roll pralines. Plus, don’t they look good.
So, fifteen courses, six cocktails, and three hours later, our time at Tickets came to an end. If only I were in Barcelona another two months; it’s worth flying for.