One of Barcelona’s hottest spots is also one of its hidden gems. Known to foodies the world around, but seemingly not so well known to the locals we’ve talked with, 41° is one of the latest projects from the culinary minds behind ElBulli.
Albert Adrià and his team also run Tickets, a widely known tapas bar on Avinguda Paral-lel, near Placa d’Espanya. Tickets is very visible from the corner, 41° — which draws its name from the 41st parallel upon which Barcelona sits — is more discreetly tucked into a small, 16-seat space right next door. The signage is very low-key and almost invisible from the street. And what would be the point of a bolder visible presence? Everyone entering the doors has made reservations weeks, or up to three months in advance online. It’s just about the only way to get one of those 16 seats. They don’t need foot traffic to fill them; they couldn’t accommodate walk-ins anyway.
(Tickets also generally requires reservations, but has many more than 16 seats and is able to turn those seats over more than once per night. 41° seats sixteen patrons per night. Period. Both places do open for late night drinks and snacks on a first-come, first-served basis.)
I’m torn about how much information to share here; there’s a reason it’s called an “experience” rather than a meal. And a large part of the experience is the element of surprise. The current Autumn program includes several exquisitely composed “landscapes,” each with two to four bites of food from a particular region of the world. A Nordic landscape features salmon, candied carrots and a “vinegar snow” that was visually stunning and incredibly difficult to photograph. (But my attempts are included in the gallery below).
Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Thailand, Japan and the Mediterranean all provide inspiriation for different landscapes, and of course, there are several courses drawing inspiration from local cuisines and produce. We took advantage of the optional beverage pairings, too, which included a locally made IPA, a house take on the Negroni (plus a couple of other cocktails), wines from several European viticultural areas, and sake.
Of course, several dessert courses and coffee closed out the evening.
Every plate is visually compelling, some to the point of breathtaking. I did my level best to capture what I could under challenging lighting conditions and without becoming a pest to my fellow diners — who were all photographing their food, too! I leave you with the photos below.