Barrafina London Restaurant Review - Restaurant Review of Barrafina London, Tapas Restaurants London
Four out of Five stars
Sam and Eddie Hart have done it again. Their tiny tapas restaurant, Barrafina, may be small on space but it’s big on authentic ingredients.
Handily located on Frith Street, Barrafina is already attracting the quintessential mix of Soho-types necessary to create just the right buzz without slipping into braying ostentation. Push open the heavy wooden door and the small space instantly feels inviting. Pull up a chair at the counter surrounding the open kitchen, place your order from the tablemat menus and marvel as the chefs instantly get to work on your order within arms’ reach.
From the informal counterside dining to the chefs happily chatting away to customers and topping up your glass at regular intervals, Barrafina is relaxed as only a Spanish restaurant can be. Its no reservations policy ensures it is refreshingly democratic and the Hart brothers are no doubt hoping that thanks to its Soho location it will become a spot Londoners in the know drop by for tapas whatever the time of day or night.
The open kitchen area is centred immediately behind the counter with chefs at work mere millimetres away from diners. Simply styled, mixing marble tiling and stainless steel, the glass fronted display fridges are stuffed full of fresh ingredients whilst seafood is piled high on crushed ice beneath a heap of dried chillies and fresh lemons and limes.
Following in Fino’s footsteps, the food at Barrafina is nothing short of superb. Six tapas dishes plus dessert are enough to satisfy two diners and the range of options is impressive including daily specials. Dishes start at around £3.00 with daily specials coming in at closer to £8.00 but whilst they aren’t cheap they make up for it in quality. Dishes are served piping hot, a couple of dishes at a time, unlike many tapas restaurants where dishes are piled high only for some of them to have congealed by the time you get round to eating them.
Recommended tapas include prawn and piquillo pepper tortilla, beautifully crisp on the outside with a deliciously creamy consistency inside, grilled chorizo with watercress on crispy bread, and garlic infused patatas bravas chips with tomato dip on the side. Specials are well worth ordering. Squid a la plancha, sauteed in oil and salt, as the Harts admit themselves, shouldn’t work but somehow it does. Desserts include Crema Catalana with a refreshingly tangy taste adding depth to the cream, and an almond based Santiago Tart.
Drinks can be ordered by the glass or the bottle and the wine list offers a concise mix of 10 whites, 10 reds and a selection of sherries and cava. Be careful if you’re watching what you drink however, as the staff are scarily eager to top up your glass at every given opportunity and your wallet (and head) may not thank you for it later.
The Last Word
Barrafina is clearly vying for the title of London’s finest tapas restaurant and if it maintains such superb levels of food and service, there’s little doubt that it will succeed. However, quality tapas of this standard does come at a price so it’s worth visiting after pay day if you want to truly indulge.