Bodega 1900 is a tapas bar that serves local produce presented simply and purely. The ingredients are allowed to shine and a meal will give you a splendid taste of the finest offerings of Catalonia. The main menu changes with the seasons with daily specials based on the best produce from the market. The servings are simple, but quite often perfect. In all we had more than a dozen plates, the most memorable being: air dried tuna with almonds; smoked mackeral; sea urchins; oysters; gras with sea salt. The flavours, like most in the region, are big and always leave you wanting more. Bodega 1900 lets the nature of Catalonia do the talking and the cooking shows appreciation, intelligence and respect. A meal at Bodega 1900 is a great experience and gives the diner a fantastic taste of the region.
Across the road from Bodega 1900 you will find Tickets. Like Bodega 1900, Tickets is a tapas bar serving the best Catalonian produce, but whereas the former demonstrates purity, Tickets adds the creativity, the fun and the flair synonymous with the name Adria. A meal in Tickets is an assault on the senses. It is noisy, a little chaotic, a touch theatrical and is an extremely fun place to spend an evening. It will be your tastebuds that will be most under siege though, with each plate of food delivering a big flavour. The food here truly is excellent and each serving is very exciting, often managing to deliver the wow factor with each bite. Adria has managed to add creative twists to tapas dishes, but still maintaining and respecting the essence of the tapas bar. Many of the flavours are that of Catalonia with dishes rooted in classic tapas, but there is the occasional outside influence thrown in. Despite the creativity in the food, each flavour is still well defined and tastes of what it is and most dishes only have a couple of ingredients.
It would be hard to pick out any dishes as so many of them were of high quality, but some stood out from the rest: tuna tartare on crispy seaweed; crunchy octopus; spaghetti made from cep with black truffle; orange and olive juice salad and maybe the best of all; eel in a seaweed bun. The one criticism is that the three dessert dishes were a let down as, despite being fun and presented well, on flavour they did not live up to the previous courses.
For those of us who never got to eat the food of elBulli, this is currently the nearest you will get, it is a sort of 'elBulli does tapas' or an 'elBulli lite'. A meal here is memorable, from the slightly chaotic hum of the dining room with chefs moving across from one section to another, to the site of the many beautiful and intriguing dishes coming out, to the pleasure of the exquisite food.
Albert Adria's Tickets and Bodega 1900 are a must on any, and every, trip to Barcelona.