Barrafina: where tapas are worth the wait

My last trip to Barrafina was a hump day lunch threesome with a visiting Spanish friend and her husband eons ago. They both have impeccable taste for tapas and told me this was their favourite restaurant in Soho. I told them I’d come, except it had to be a quickie as I only had an hour to spare. Considering this Frith Street restaurant sits less than 25 and gets packed all the time, we were in and out in an hour and fifteen. Boom. 
Plaid Boy came to visit last week and was fuelled by the desire to have tapas. Realising our other friend G had the same love for small sharing plates, our threesome braved the queues for dinner service.

We got there around 6pm and waiting time was “just” an hour and 15 minutes. On any normal occasion I’d’ve thrown in the towel and rushed to the nearest alternative (unless it was Maccas). But this was tapas night. No amount of hunger could have stopped us from queuing.
Twenty minutes in I felt my batteries draining and my stomach screaming expletives so I ordered some jamon croquetas (£4.5) to recharge. I’ve never been so happy to see two massive balls. Crispy breaded croquettes came to the rescue, filled with gooey cheese and chopped ham. It was slightly too salty for my liking but was good enough to keep me quiet for the rest of the wait.

40 minutes later we were shown our seats. Hallelujah!

First of our tapas was the lomo Iberico de Bellota (£8). This had a mild salty flavour and the portion was pretty good. Can you see how lean the cuts are? Super sulit. We ordered some bread and olive oil (£2) to go with. I enjoyed the oil which tasted cold-pressed on the first instance but Plaid Boy wasn’t too keen.

G chose some chipirones (£7) and they were fantastic. You can rarely go wrong deep fried breaded baby squid, unless of course you don’t use fresh ones. Crunchy, chewy, salty, these bad boys would go down well in any beer match snacking.

Plaid Boy and G shared a serving of jamón and spinach tortilla (£7). I didn’t exacty get involved with this because I don’t eat egg. They both seemed to like it though they both agreed this little thing was quite heavy!

After much egging (har har) from my two dates I tried a bit of the potato. The caramelised sauce was nice, but it still had an eggy aftertaste so this one was really not for me.

I was looking forward to Barrafina’s courgette flowers but as they were unavailable at the time, we ordered baby artichokes (£6.5) from the specials board instead. I loved this. It was light and delicate yet flavourful at the same time. The aioli was decent enough - it didn’t overpower the smokiness of the artichokes.

The octopus with capers (£9) was something I knew I definitely wanted to try even before we queued. This is how I like this mollusk grilled: perfectly charred on the outside with  hints of undercooked bits in a few places (sans sliminess!). The smokiness of the octopus may have been heightened by a generous dusting of paprika but was also balanced by the tangy capers sporadically spread across the board.

I’m not big on pork shoulder as it’s another one of those well marbled cuts of meat so I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the presa Ibérico with confit potatoes (£10). Admittedly, I’m not one to order pork in restaurants so I’m glad someone else ordered this. It was crispy in some parts and tender in most, deliciously sweet and cooked nicely (although some would possibly say this was a bit under). The confit potatoes were delicious too!

The grilled quail (£7.5) was another one of my choices and considering how difficult it is to cook quail, ours was perfect. Served with a pot of aioli (which, quite frankly it didn’t need), the bird was tender and moist.

Our bill came down to around £70. We were quite chuffed at how cheap the bill was considering the quality and the amount of food we consumed and the service we got. Service was attentive - our man kept refilling our water bottle and smiled all the time whilst clearing our space - and if you like the theatricals of open kitchens then this is definitely for you. 
That said, we didn’t order wine for fear of falling asleep by the bar (we did queue up quite a while and by the time we were seated it was almost bed time). Shame, as the wine list looks absolutely stunning
Barrafina, you are worth the wait indeed. I’d prefer coming to you during lunchtime for quick service but sometimes, slow and surely hits the spot too. 
54 Frith St  London, Greater London W1D 4SL | 020 7813 8016
Ave spend pp: £25

Square Meal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *