Tickets opened in April 2011, and gained a Michelin star in the 2014 guide. It is part of the growing empire of restaurants in Barcelona run by Albert Adria, brother of Ferran Adria of El Bulli fame. Albert was in residence today, along with head chef Fran Agudo. The restaurant has a long counter with bar seating in front of the kitchen, as well as additional tables, and a separate bar area on the other side of the dining room. It can accommodate around eighty guests at one time.
The menu format is tapas, with a variety of small dishes to choose from. My dining companion today, who is here so often that all the staff greeted him like a long lost friend, reckons that the best strategy is to stick with the smaller tapas dishes. Since he knows the menu by heart he ordered for us. The wine list had labels such as Hacienda Monasterio 2014 at €60 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for around €41, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs at €94 compared to its retail price of €65, and Marques de Murrietta Castillo de Ygay 2007 at €125 for a wine that will set you back €78 in a shop.
To begin with was a little crisp of chicken skin with anchovy cream, which was quite crisp and delicate (14/20). Next was a clam with ponzu and tomato sauce with pickled cucumber and a little chilli. The sauce was good, though the clam was a bit chewy, as is perhaps in the nature of clams (14/20). Better was nori with avocado and puffed rice with wasabi, topped with tuna belly. This was a light and well balanced dish, the crisp rice contrasting with the texture of the tuna belly, and the spice working well with the fish (16/20).
Next was wagyu beef from Chile made into a tartare, with mustard, resting on a delicate potato crisp. The beef had nice flavour, the level of seasoning was good, and the potato crisp well made (15/20). The next dish moved things up a level. Crab and avocado was packed into a pretty chequered vegetable casing along with avocado and coriander mayonnaise, topped with chia seeds. Avocado and crab is a classic combination, and the combination with the coriander flavour and the crunch of the seeds was a lovely one (17/20).
The next dish was “Nordic Landscape”, a malt bread base on which was a layer of veal with smoked cheese, fennel and vinegar. This was another pretty nibble to look at, and the flavour combination worked well, the smokiness of the cheese working nicely with the meat (15/20).
This was followed by “crunchy octopus”, the flesh coated in panko crumbs and flavoured with kim chi mayonnaise, served with piparrak peppers, a mild green chilli-like pepper. The octopus was very tender, no mean achievement, and the spicing level just right, the panko crumbs adding a contrasting texture (17/20). Lettuce with tomato and more pipparak pepper was “cooked” at the table in liquid nitrogen. This was the least successful dish, as the components had little discernible flavour once they had been exposed to the freezing cold (barely 13/20).
Suckling pig taco had hoisin sauce, cucumber and coriander mayonnaise, reminiscent of a pancake roll of Peking duck. This was enjoyable, the pork skin crisp (15/20). The final dish that we tried was the “air baguette”, a hollowed out mini baguette around which was wrapped raw Rubia Gallega beef from Galicia, in place of the pata negra that the original El Bulli recipe used. This was quite clever technically, and the meat had good flavour (14/20).
The staff were friendly and attentive, and the bill came to €73 (£64) with just water, but a lot of food. If you shared a modest bottle of wire and order a more restrained number of dishes then a realistic cost per person would come to around £75. This seems to me reasonable given the considerable kitchen skill on display here.