Originally posted in June 2011
What do you do when one of the most respected chefs in the world invites you into his new restaurant for dinner? You do what the Tavernita team did and cancel all other plans to dine at Tickets in Barcelona; Albert Adria’s new concept.
But let’s back up a bit- back to March when our plans to tour three cities in Spain for our research were finally set. The first spot I attempted to make a reservation for was Tickets- which was booked. Since the cocktail gurus The Tippling Brothers are part of our crew- we had no problem settling for 41 Degrees (the adjacent cocktail lounge also by Adria). That was until we arrived during a downpour and caught a glimpse of what we’d be missing as the host- dressed like a circus conductor walked us thru Tickets to get to 41 Degrees.
The restaurant entrance looked like an old time theater combined a Carnival or Circ de Soleil. Alfredo Sandoval (my partner at Tavernita) tried reassuring me as we sat at the 41 Degrees bar; “We will have to go to Tickets next time.” Which was the equivalent of telling a little kid leaving the super market; ‘We can play video games and get a gumball “next time”’.
But I quickly perked up as we sampled the creative cocktails and chatted up the friendly mixologists, and we mentioned that were here from Chicago on a restaurant research trip. Soon, Albert himself emerged from the back- the message had been delivered and he had come over to meet this group including the Chicago chefs. We chatted about my time in Spain, as well as Tavernita and he asked what time our reservation at Tickets was for- and I was jokingly telling him about how we couldn’t get in. He apologized and said things have been crazy with the opening, and booked solid for 3 months strait.
His kindness and lack of ego bummed me out even more that I couldn’t try his food- but not ten minuets passed when Chef emerged again and said: “I have a table for you at Tickets, you can sit down when ever you like, it would be our pleasure to have you.” It took me a few seconds to make the translation in my head, and ran it back a few times to make sure I understood correctly- one of the greatest chefs in the world had just invited us to dinner.
In a shocked state the group of 10 walked into the “Circus like restaurant” and sat down, looking around and snapping photos. Albert came to welcome our table and requested to do a special tasting menu- inquiring about dietary restrictions.
We ordered the house beer that Albert and brother Ferran created and our adventure of Tickets began with our first course.
To be continued…