My wife and I ate at both, on back to back evenings, this past November. I apologize for being tardy in posting this but feel I needed to let some time pass in order to reflect on the experience. You’ll also find my comments to be less about the food than about the whole dining experience.
If you are looking for further confirmation that the food is expertly prepared at both, I can give you that. The sheer nature of the number of dishes tasted at 41 degrees, results in there being some clear winners and then some that were less than extraordinary.
My wife and I found Tickets to be one of the most joyful meals we have ever had. Everyone who worked there seemed happy. Our waiter was highly personable, interested in what we liked, and created a tasting menu of one treat after another. He checked in just enough, to see if we were in need of either more food or wine. The ambience of the room was a treat for the eyes. You could choose to watch the intricate food being prepared, or the soccer game on TV, or the diverse crowd. Overall, it was fun, and after a two week trip to both Barcelona and Paris that included a number of top restaurants, Tickets is the one my wife still talks about.
I knew 41 Degrees would be different going in. I have had multiple course tasting menus at many restaurants. But it didn’t occur to me that because of the large number of courses, the waiter would come to your table so frequently, that it is virtually impossible to have any sustained conversation with your dining companion. The wait staff exhibited none of the warmth found next door at Tickets. I don’t know if that was because they take their jobs too seriously, or they are under such pressure from the kitchen to convey the food in just the right way. It also didn’t occur to me that I wouldn’t be able to go to the bathroom without stressing out the kitchen. I could hear our waiter informing the kitchen in hushed tones of my departure and the need to hold on whatever item was next up in the queue. When you add to this, the audio visual effects, which did nothing for the ambiance, I can’t recall a more joyless dining experience. It was like a foodies 3 hour death march.
If I had to sum it up, I’d say that Tickets is about you while 41 Degrees is about them.