41° or 41 Degrees, or 41 Grados as it’s known was the hardest reservation I’ve ever secured. People talk about the French Laundry being hard to get in to. People complain about how confusing it is to snag a reservation to the Momofuku fried chicken lunch. Even Tickets is now listed as one of the toughest reservations to get. But for all 3, I learned the rules, practiced a bit and then scheduled my date for booking into my calendar and when the specific moment was right, whammo – I was able to book.
But 41° kept changing the rules. First I read 90 days in advance, (which would have been tragic, because I only started looking 70 days in advance). Then I noticed it was booking 30 days out. So I practiced and waited for my dates, but just days before I was about to try to make reservations, the site went down. It came back up 2 days later, but with a message that the reservations would be “back up in moments”.
41° had recently from being just a cocktail bar that served bar snacks to a 41 course “experience” featuring many “best of El Bulli” dishes and I really wanted in on it. I couldn’t even talk about wanting it, because I didn’t want to jinx myself. So I kept checking back to 41° website and constantly hit “refresh, refresh” waiting for the reservations to come up. When it did, it was only a week in advance. I’m not sure what it is now, but when my date finally came up, it was less than 3 weeks in advance. On the first day that I could book, I was on the computer right as the reservations were released and all that was available were reservations for 4, no 2’s. It happened again on the 2nd day, only 4’s, so this time I decided to just book and try to find another couple to join us for the experience. I posted on chowhound and within 20 minutes, I had a couple on their honeymoon who were in. And lucky for us, they were amazing dining companions looking to enjoy the meal as much as we were.
41 specifically requests on their website to only take photos for personal use and to not publish or share them. They say that it’s “very important to the Experience and we would ask you to respect our wishes when it comes to showing our work”. As much as I respect their wishes, I am also practical in writing this post. I know that the majority of people I know and want to share my experience with, will never have the opportunity to visit 41°. With only 16 diners/evening, open 5 nights a week, at 5o weeks in a year(subtracting holidays) only 4000 people a year who will get to experience what I did. To put this into perspective, the French Laundry at capacity can serve over 53,000 a year. Even El Bulli was able to serve 8000 diners over the 7 months they were open each year.
I was a bit nervous going into my meal at 41° because of the epic dinner we had at Tickets the night before. But sitting down in the very slick & modern room at 41°, I knew there would be no comparison because the two were so different. We weren’t given any menus as the servers explained that the element of surprise was integral to our dining experience. The controlling side of me cringed a bit at the thought of not knowing, but when I saw Albert Adrià behind the bar looking over our menus with the staff, I knew I would just let myself be taken on a journey by this master again.
There were 6 themes presented throughout the meal and the dishes represented each theme. Although the dinner was supposed to be composed of 41 different dishes, all in, there were over 50 elements served in this 4 hour meal.
Although every dish during the 41° experience utilized techniques created out of the El Bulli Taller/Restaurant, the ones marked with an “*” were ones that were served “as is” at El Bulli in the past.
1. Nitro Apple Mare
2. Las Olivas del 41° *
3. Orange cocktail with sweet vermouth sorbet
4. Raspberry orchid with pistachio cream
5. Infused watermelon w/sesame seed shot
6. Solid campari
7. 41° Gin Tonic
8. Crispy seaweed with quinoa
9. Spicy corn tentacles
The Luxury Trio
10. “Joselito” Iberian Ham Sandwich *
11. Parmesan Ice Cream Sandwich *
12. Nigiri Foie Gras
The Caviar Trio
13. Belgian Endive with Almonds and Caviar
14. Caviar and Hazelnut Oil Caviar with Hazelnut Vodka Shot
22. Galicia – Oyster with codium, fingerlime and oyster leaf
23. Peru – Tuna belly tiradito with “leche de tigre”
24. Mexico – Sweet corn ravioli with crispy corn
25. Japan – Tuna Temaki
25. Japan – Prawn with “miso” sauce
26. Thailand – The Coconut and the Leaf
27. China – Xa Su Bao
28. Nordic – Journey and the Carrot
29. France – Rabbit Chop with its Blood
29. France (continued) – Potato with Bone Marrow
30. Catalunya – Fava Beans with Iberian Ham Consommé
31. Cactus Leaf
32. Mandarin Bon-Bon
32. Black Currant Profiterol
33. Moscovado Sponge Cake & Strawberry
34. Wild Strawberry with Sherry Vinegar and Mango Sorbet
35. Wasabi Lime and Ginger
35.(continued) Undocumented Drink
36. Chocolate Mint Leaf *
37. Black sesame rock
38. Crunchy plàtan
39. Chocolate truffle
40. Raspberry with saffron
41. Peach pit *
41° turns into a cocktail bar after the meals are finished and although we talked about coming back another night, we knew that wasn’t a likelihood so we decided to stay and keep living the fantasy.
We had another 2 cocktails each with our lovely dining companions Phillis and Ben. Thanks again for a wonderful night!
We had the first reservations of the night at 8pm and ended up staying until after 2am. I can without hesitation say that this was the greatest dining experience I’ve ever had. I am utterly amazed to not only be able to say I’ve eaten Ferran and Albert Adrià’s food, but I also loved every moment of it.
Call me a food lover... not a foodie. Maybe you have a definition of foodie that's different than mine, but I think of myself as a person who loves to eat, cook, find amazing eating spots, browse interesting grocery stores and drive a hundred miles out of the way to visit a farmers market. I like talking about food and taking food photos...
Up until now, I've never been motivated to put my thoughts to words. But then I heard the 2 words that inspired me to start writing. French Laundry.
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16 Replies to “Experience 41 Degrees – My Adrià Odyssey”
That meal looks amazing. I’m salivating over the potato with bone marrow, liquid ravioli, razor clam (of course!) and prawn dish. I’m so impressed you were able to remember so many details. Did you take notes? When we visited, we got to try the olives, parmesan ice cream sandwich and the ham sandwich. I remember the ham sandwich definitely being one of our favourite bites.
I still replay moments of that meal in my mind. No I didn’t take any notes, but remember every single bite, (except for that pink drink) so vividly. Everything was so amazing… a definite meal of a lifetime! Were your cocktails good too?
Yes! The cocktails were fantastic. I was trying to find a picture I took of my cocktail… but my husband seems to have taken the pictures off his phone (yes, we forgot our camera at the hotel before that evening… I was killing myself because everything was so photo-worthy!). I had this red shiso and apple tobacco concoction. The drink was served tableside and there was this enormous decanter/vial of pink smoke that was “poured” through my drink. Delicious!
not much food?
Love this blog!! Do they give you a copy of the menu after dinner and can you take it home?
Love your blog about 41 grados! Where did you get the menu? Were you allowed to take it home? We are going soon and I would be bummed if they don’t give us a list of what we ate!
Thanks! They gave us a copy of the menu at the end of the meal. I’m glad they did or else I never would have remembered each dish! It’s such an amazing experience and you’re going to have such a great time.
I’m hoping to go to 41 degrees later this year so this blog post is fantastic! Making me really want to go, even though I only have 3 people (not 4). I might have to do the same thing on Chowhound boards!
Do you know if people were able to order snacks at the cocktail bar? I’m thinking if I can’t get a reservation for the ‘experience’ I can just go for the no reservations trip to the bar that opens at midnight but I’m not sure if it even has any food anymore…I know it used to be both.
Thanks for reading! I don’t remember seeing food being served when it opened up as a cocktail bar at midnight. Good luck trying to get reservations, and if you can’t go to 41 Degrees, also try for Tickets!
Your photos are so gorgeous (here and throughout your blog). What kind of camera do you use and do you have any special tricks to share especially with low light levels?
Thanks so much for your kind words! I take photos on a Canon T2i and most of my food photos from Barcelona onwards is taken hand-held with a 50mm f1.4. The lens changed my life in terms of low light photos. I usually lower the exposure (the AV +/-) to -1 and then brighten up the images in Lightroom after the fact.
Can you compare Tickets to 41 Degrees? I am going to Barcelona in a little more than 2 months, and I am trying to decide whether to make reservations at Tickets or 41 Degrees. I would love to try both, but I will only have time for one of them. What, in your opinion, is the main difference between the two places? Who should go to one vs. the other? Thanks a lot!!
The 2 are so different, it’s hard to say one over the other. 41 Degrees is an experience. You’re there to be wow’d course after course and it’s all about the food. The room is dark and sultry and you’re at the mercy of the chef. The meal at Tickets is more relaxed and while you will definitely enjoy the food, you’ll find the pace is such that you’ll also be able to enjoy the company you’re there with.
At 41Degrees, you’re at the mercy of what they decide to serve you, at Tickets, you have more of a choice. Either way, you’ll get to sample some Adria greats.
Tickets will also end up being half the price of 41degrees, if price is a concern. But to be honest with you, you won’t be disappointed either way.
Thanks for your quick reply. This is really helpful!
I am curious: why will tickets end up being half the price of 41degrees? Do you just eat less (and so you pay less) at tickets? If you get similar dishes, I would expect the individual dishes to be similarly priced (on average)?
Also, would you recommend the wine pairing at 41degrees? Or is that too much wine 😉
Thanks a lot!
Sorry, I realized I never replied. I found that we probably ate more at Tickets than we did at 41 degrees but it was way less expensive You can see everything we at at both Tickets and 41 degrees. At Tickets we had 2 drinks each plus food and the total for 2 was 160 Euro. At 41degrees, between the 4 of us, we shared a inexpensive bottle of cava, had 2 drinks each and then food for 770Euro. At 41degrees, it’s all about the “experience”. The plating, presentation and types of dishes are at another level than at Tickets.
I never get the pairing because I find it’s too much wine. Maybe you could share a pairing with whoever you’re going with or ask the server to match your individual glasses to pair well several upcoming courses.
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