When I was planning my trip to Barcelona, one of the first things that came to my mind, after hotels, was where should I dine in the city? Barcelona is known to be a foodies hub, and with so many fantastic tapas restaurants to try and bars, which would only my mind. However, there was one restaurant, Tickets, that was non-negotiable and remained at the top of my list. A restaurant that ranks as the 20th best restaurant in the world, and retained its one-Michelin star, but where many diners miss out on the chance to visit due to the two-month waiting list to get a booking. The restaurant is in popular demand because of the phenomenal theatrical dining experience it offers, giving you a night to remember. I was fortunate enough to secure a booking, so in true Aftab style, we started our evening with cocktails at the iconic Eclipse Bar at the W Hotel, before taking a short taxi ride to Tickets.
The facades of restaurant resembled a fairground stall, complete with organized bulb lighting, posters and vibrant colours, making it stand out against its neighbouring restaurants. There are points where I didn’t know where to look. As I stepped up to the ticket booth, I was greeted by our host for a truly immersive dining experience and that is when our culinary journey began.
The ticket gave us access to the wonderland of Tickets — as you step through the door it all comes to life. It’s like being an extra within a theatre show — the waiters, chefs and hosts love what they do and go to great lengths to ensure it is a wonderful experience for all. We were lucky enough to have a table that directly faced the chefs at work, giving us a prime view, and one of the best seats in the house. You see the extreme precision and tactical processes which leads an array of eloquent and delectable dishes.
To start, we ordered the air baguette, which was one of the most surreal tapas dishes I have ever tried. Essentially it was a thin hollow, crunchy baguette bread wrapped in Rubia Gallega, which is cured beef meat. And for someone who is often in a position where most cured meats are pork, I was so ecstatic to be able to try this dish. In fact, it was so divine, we even went in for a second one — that is saying something, you must order the air baguette when dining at Tickets.
The second dish we tried was the Pan Con Tomate, which essentially smashed up tomato, seasoned and then put onto a crisp flatbread. It was absolutely delicious, and probably one of the best I had while in Barcelona and considering it’s one of the more popular Spanish tapas dishes, that says a lot.
We swiftly moved onto the Soufflé Potato, which was marinated beef, with bearnaise sauce and smoked cream. The beef melted in my mouth, and the creamy flavours from the sauces gave it a delicate decidence.
Out came the Avocado Pizza, a very unique little dish, but I absolutely loved it. The amount of avocado added combined with the seasoned based gave it a simple, yet enriching all-rounded flavour that made it incredibly more-ish.
Olivia wanted to try the Maki Causa, a dish made with king prawns and Aburi sauce. A huge thumbs up from her, and was one of her favourites — seafood lovers, take note.
My favourite dish had to be the Bone Marrow Aubergine. I think the concept of the dish was so well thought out — the aubergine was actually served in the marrow’s bone and the bone marrow, neatly packed into a new potato. Absolutely divine.
Olivia then went on to try the Pancetta and (raw) Squid, which I completely give my hats off to her. Even though she loves squid, she had never consumed it raw, so it was a truly new experience for her, but in the end, she loved it. She continued to tell me the combination was innovative but revolutionary.
Another favourite of mine was the Carrot Canape with a frozen “leche de Tigre” tablet, edible flowers, and leaves. The dish itself tasted very fresh and reminded me of a springs day with all flowers in bloom. Another must-try dish.
When we were asked if we wanted to try dessert, we both leapt to our feet and exclaimed “YES!” Of course, dessert is mandatory when I’m travelling, because calories don’t count, obviously. We were then handed another ticket and were guided to another room to continue our journey. The ticket had “Sweet Dreams” written on the front and I thought I was in dessert heaven when I was taken into the next room.
My jaw dropped. I was so ecstatic and amazed by the dessert room, with big candy canes and strawberries dangling from the ceiling, complete with pastel-coloured chairs and the can Mary Poppins playing on one of the screens. It was totally surreal.
We got another opportunity to sit at a table facing the kitchen, allowing us to watch the dessert masters at work. We were already drooling before we managed to even look at the menu, but what we saw helped us make our decisions. We decided to order three different desserts to share between us because we couldn’t decide on just two.
I went first and ordered The Rose, which was a large delicate sphere served on a rose. As soon as I placed it in your mouth, the contents which were rose water and lychee pieces that just exploded giving me an array of flavours and textures flying around my mouth. It took me by surprise, but all the flavours worked so well together and it was the perfect way to finish a meal if you were fairly full.
Olivia ordered the Stroop waffle, and it was made in front of us. He basically took the two waffles slides, softened the vanilla ice-cream with a scoop, and spread it flat, added some fried almonds and a generous squirt of salted caramel, mixed it all up, and carefully spread it perfectly between the two waffle sliders. Dessert artistry at its best, I say.
Olivia and I both love citrus fruits, so we were completely in love with the concept of a lemon pie, served with lime sorbet and basil. We couldn’t resist and ordered one to share — the lemon was powerful and flavoursome, combined with the lime sorbet, it ended our meal on a fresh note, which was perfect.
I can imagine you all wondering how much did we pay for the experience? Well, firstly we didn’t order alcohol as we had an array of speakeasy bars we wanted to hop to afterwards, but I was still shocked when we got the bill. Here’s why… we paid a total of €86.45, which equates to £72.80 and to £36.40 per person. I personally couldn’t believe it, especially as we were both placing bets on how much the bill would be and we were predicting around €250, possibly even more. I couldn’t believe how good value for money Tickets’ one-Michelin star experience is.
Personally, I feel everyone needs to dine at Tickets when visiting Barcelona because a trip truly isn’t complete without dining there. I can guarantee you all when I next visit Barcelona, I will definitely be making another reservation at Tickets!
Have you been to Tickets?
Until next time…