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"Il Bulli" - Associated Places in Barcelona

Jim Leff Aug 19, 2013 06:43 AM

I missed Il Bulli. I'd assumed it was just hype, but enough people I trust tell me they had the meal of their lives there that I realize I was wrong.

I'm headed to Barcelona shortly, and want to try to experience contrails....i.e. places run by Adria associates and alumni. High on the list was Inopia, the tapas bar run by his brother. But I've heard the brother is no longer involved, that they changed the name to Lolita, and I've heard from some people that it was never so great.

Any advice, either re: this place or other places leaning at least somewhat toward Il Bulli (I understand that the full Il Bulli experience cannot be recouped) and doing so with reliably delicious results? I'm definitely not looking to eat expensive shiny trendy food for its own sake.


Ok, I did some surfing, found out that Lolita's not a good choice, that "Ticket" is, but I can't get a reservation, and that elBulli's three longtime sous chefs have opened Compartir in Cadaqués, but it's a long, long drive from Barcelona.

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  1. SnackHappy RE: Jim Leff Aug 19, 2013 07:52 AM

    Tickets, 41° and Pakta are the three Adrià brothers places in Barcelona. None of them really aim to reproduce the El Bulli experience, but AFAIK a few of the more famous El Bulli dishes can be sampled at Tickets.

    You can search this board for reports on these places.


    You may also want to take a look at Abac.


    These are just tips to get you started. I have no first hand experience of these places as I'm not that big on fancy-pants dining.

    5 Replies
    1. re: SnackHappy
      c oliver RE: SnackHappy Aug 25, 2013 11:57 AM

      We went to Tickets Bar late last year and had the meal of a lifetime. For us anyway. But not a thing "fancy-pants" about it. Circus-themed, super relaxed. The most fun dining experience we've ever had also. I look forward to trying their other spots on future visits to BCN.

      1. re: c oliver
        SnackHappy RE: c oliver Aug 26, 2013 10:47 AM

        I understand what you mean, but despite the playful setting and relaxed atmosphere, Tickets is still fine-dining with the prices that go along. I'm fine with that kind of stuff, but it's just not something I can afford.

        1. re: SnackHappy
          c oliver RE: SnackHappy Aug 26, 2013 02:00 PM

          And I understand what YOU mean :) It was definitely a big splurge meal for us. The most expensive meal we've ever had. But worth it.

          1. re: c oliver
            mummer RE: c oliver Aug 28, 2013 10:10 PM

            Do you mind my asking what you spent per person?

            1. re: mummer
              c oliver RE: mummer Aug 29, 2013 08:13 AM

              Not at all. I told the server that we didn't want to go much over 150 Euros for the two of us. We came in a few under that. It's the most expensive meal we've ever had but even frugal Bob thought it was worth it. Here's my write up so you can see what we had.


    2. w
      willyum RE: Jim Leff Aug 19, 2013 08:02 AM

      In keeping with the spirit of this thread, which restaurants in Barcelona are currently serving the 'most molecular' food?

      We are putting the finishing touches on reservations for our all-too short trip in October and I think I may have too many 'modern Catalan' type places on the list (though some apparently serve some MG dishes), so I wouldn't mind adding a more molecular place if there is an especially good one in BCN.

      1 Reply
      1. re: willyum
        sunbrace RE: willyum Aug 26, 2013 09:25 PM

        Based on my research: Cinc Sentits, Comerc 24, Alkimia, maybe Guelonch. I'll be traveling after you so I can't vouch for their deliciousness

      2. estufarian RE: Jim Leff Aug 19, 2013 08:34 AM

        Depends how 'shortly' you are going.
        41 grados has openings from 24 Sept onwards. But you can only book for 2 or 4 persons (there was a table of 5 there the night I attended, so maybe a 4 can be squeezed to 5).
        For me, this is the place that most captures the spirit of El Bulli. And my best dining 'experience' of all-time.

        Tickets (although interesting) isn't a 'meal' - just a selection of courses (i.e. what is generally accepted as tapas). If you go 'early week' just before opening (opens at 7:00pm), you 'may' get in as a walk-in. On a Tuesday (when I was there WITH a reservation), approx the first 8 people in line did actually get admitted.

        Pakta wasn't open when I visited.

        But, with luck you might be able to discover Bodega 1900 which is apparently an attempt to create the 'historical' tapas experience. Supposed to open in July (this year), I have already seen articles on some of the planned dishes, so it should be opening soon.

        1 Reply
        1. re: estufarian
          willyum RE: estufarian Aug 19, 2013 09:40 AM

          41 grados ... "sugerimos que si son fumadores pacten con la sala las pausas a realizar."

          They are dead to me :)

        2. s
          saeyedoc RE: Jim Leff Aug 19, 2013 11:01 AM

          We went to Llamber Taberna on our recent trip. The head chef worked with Ferran at Il Bulli in 2000. Very inventive food. Really nice atmosphere in The Born distict.

          1. smartini RE: Jim Leff Aug 26, 2013 02:06 PM

            Have an amazing trip Jim! We went to Spain earlier this year and finished our trip with several days in Barcelona. I did not eat at Tickets, but I did eat at Lolita's - and I have to be honest and tell you that it was our favourite tapas experience on our entire trip to Spain - not just Barcelona. (It was tied with an amazing tapas place in Ronda called Traga Tapas, but I digress)...

            The food was amazing - fresh, original and inventive. The service was outstanding. We got two seats outside sitting at the bar facing inside the restaurant - and it was fabulous. Maybe it was just one of those perfect evenings where everything works, but I'd recommend you try it. It really was delicious. We loved it.

            1. PhilD RE: Jim Leff Aug 31, 2013 01:30 AM

              Why "II Bulli" not "El Bulli"?

              2 Replies
              1. re: PhilD
                c oliver RE: PhilD Aug 31, 2013 07:56 AM

                I had wondered the same.

                1. re: PhilD
                  willyum RE: PhilD Aug 31, 2013 09:34 AM

                  I thought it was just a typo ...

                2. Melanie Wong RE: Jim Leff Aug 31, 2013 02:25 AM

                  Just saw your request. I've copied and pasted below a list of favorites from my friend in Barcelona who was a sommelier at El Bulli. She provided it earlier this month for another friend who was visiting. I don't know anything about these places and most are probably not the MG cuisine you're asking for but perhaps it will prove useful for your other meals.

                  * * * * * *
                  All this places are on www.bcnrestaurantes.com

                  TAPAS & Wines:

                  • L’Anima del Vi*
                  • Bar El Pla*
                  • Bodega La Palma *
                  • El Xampanyet *
                  • Cañete*
                  • Cata 181*
                  • Zim** (calle Dagueria 20) El Born (Cathedral) The smallest wine-bar in town with charcuterie & cheeses from Els Casals en Sagàs!
                  • Bar a vins Moritz**
                  • Never More* (Bar Raval)
                  • La Vinateria del Call*
                  • Quimet & Quimet
                  • Viblioteca funky wine-bar in Gracia


                  • Gresca***
                  • Els Pescador* (Poblenou)
                  • El Suquet de l’Almiral*
                  • Raco d’en Cesc *
                  • Freixa Tradicio *
                  • Ca l’Isidre
                  • Embat
                  • Bar Mut
                  • Barraca (Barceloneta)
                  • La Salseta (Sitges)
                  • El Fil d’Ariadna*** (Sabadell)
                  • La Menta*** (Palamos)
                  • Els Casals*** www.hotelelscasals.com (Berga)
                  www.restaurantlacooperativa.com (Porrera-Priorat)

                  WINE SHOP & DELICATESSEN

                  • Fromages – Cheese : Top quality Spanish cheeses at La Seu with Katherine

                  • Vilaviniteca (El Born) C/ Agullers, 7. tel: 902 327 777
                  Check the food store

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Melanie Wong
                    Jim Leff RE: Melanie Wong Aug 31, 2013 07:30 AM

                    Thanks, Melanie!

                    Barcelona for me isn't the upscale experience it is for many tourists. I've been going there (to play music gigs) since 1988, before Catalan became synonymous with cool. Like the natives (many of whom are friends at this point), that entire scene seems a bit hydroponically grown, and I mostly opt for the lusty old fashioned Catalan cooking nobody puts in books or on the food channel.

                    But it would be good to explore that scene a little, to see what's there. Artisanal cheese, especially. So thanks for the great primer.

                    The molecular gastronomy thing seems to have evaporated like one of Ferran's flavored mists, alas.

                    1. re: Jim Leff
                      willyum RE: Jim Leff Aug 31, 2013 09:40 AM

                      >> "The molecular gastronomy thing seems to have evaporated like one of Ferran's flavored mists, alas." <<

                      Dunno ... here's one list of the "Top 100 Restaurants" that has MG influenced restaurants at # 1, # 2, # 4, # 7 and # 9. http://www.elitetraveler.com/category...

                      The better known Pellegrino list has a similar top-heavy weighting (#1, #2, #4, # 5), with some different restaurants. http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1...

                      1. re: willyum
                        c oliver RE: willyum Aug 31, 2013 11:52 AM

                        I'd had the same thought. Now that we home cooks can get into it, it seemed like it was more mainstream.

                        1. re: willyum
                          Jim Leff RE: willyum Sep 1, 2013 07:25 AM

                          I meant specifically in Barcelona/Catalunya

                        2. re: Jim Leff
                          c oliver RE: Jim Leff Sep 1, 2013 07:32 AM

                          What are some of those "lusty" dishes that you favor. Others would like to know also, I'm sure.

                      2. linguafood RE: Jim Leff Sep 1, 2013 08:15 AM

                        IL Bulli?

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