With Barclonian tapas serving as the inspiration behind the simple but elegant menu, it’s somewhere I have had my eye on for a while.
Whilst the Covent Garden branch has been given the prestigious award, we gave the original which Spanish chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho opened in 2007, in Soho a go instead.
We arrived at around 1.30pm-which proved to be a rookie mistake. This is one of those, as is increasingly common, eateries where you cannot book a table. We were told by the friendly staff upon arrival that as it was a busy Wednesday lunchtime this meant waiting 20-30 minutes for a couple of highly coveted spots at the bar. Whilst there were a few other options with no wait time just across the road, we figured that the fact that it was so packed must be a good sign, so we hunkered down to wait.
By the time a couple of seats at the long L-shaped marble bar became available it’s fair to say we were hungry. It just so happened that we’d lucked out somewhat with our seats. And whilst the simple, and stylish interior with mirror and wine lined walls was intriguing, the kitchen was very much at the centre of every diner’s attention.
To say were we were centimetres from the action would be an understatement. Every slice, dice, sizzle and pop of the chefs was there to be seen, and the beautiful plates, which were dished out over the counter, were often served up by the craftsmen themselves.
The scents are gripping and you don’t come here just for the food, but for the spectacle of a busy kitchen with the heat turned up, too.
The interior is simple, and stylish, the walls are lined with mirrors, and bottles of wine from the list which offers a decent selection with a good range of prices. With the kitchen being the centre of every diners attention, and the scents of the food to come wafting straight up from under their noses the focus is most certainly on the food.
We ordered a mixture of classic dishes, for me the gambas with chilli and garlic were the highlight, the garlic beautifully thin and crips, and the chilli adding juuuust a little kick to the market fresh prawns.
The food came out as and when, as tapas should, but we were never left waiting long between dishes. Next up were a true classic Croquetas de Jamón, we ordered one serve which meant one each, they were so indulgently cheesy we seriously considered ordering another round of these. And we might have. Yet, before we could say “manchego” our three and final dishes were served up in quick succession…
A super fresh heritage tomato salad- the capers and dill made it more than just your average side salad!
Grilled chorizo, on a bed of new potatoes, and topped with pea shoots, this is certainly dish I will try my hand at re-creating at home.
And finally, a dish that unfortunately I highly doubt I will re-create at home: tender Iberico sausage, with sweet red peppers, and topped off with a couple of rather quaint little quails eggs.
I tend to love a meal of tapas style dishes, simply because it’s not that often that you get to try five or more dishes when dining out, and for me that’s a treat.
Barrafina is the best tapas I’ve had in the UK by far. Authentic, intimate and most of all, tasty. The menu pioneers the simple but effective combination of market fresh ingredients, and classic spanish flavours; I will certainly be going back for more.
Enough dishes for two hungry explorers, plus a glass of wine each came to £50.