I have had a lot of tapas in my time. Good and bad. Up until a few weeks ago I was of the opinion that Brindisa was the best I had found in London but that was until I went to Barrafina on Frith Street. Why it has taken me so long to go there, I have no idea. I have been twice in 2 weeks and plan to go a lot more!
Barrafina has no tables, just about 20 stools along an L shaped bar. You can’t book, so it’s first come, first served. I haven’t yet seen it without a continuous queue along the back wall but that just adds to the buzzy atmosphere. The standard response when you walk in is that you will have to wait 40 minutes, but 40 minutes flies by when you’re catching up with your friend with a glass of wine in your hand.
When my friend Carmen and I were queuing up on Tuesday night, we had some ham croquettes to nibble on while we were standing with our wine. The disappeared pretty damn quickly!
These ham croquettes are incredibly crispy yet incredibly light whilst still tasting very creamy and rich. The filling was made up of a decadent, béchamel sauce with ham that oozed beautifully as you broke into it.
I could easily have ordered more but I knew there was a lot of the menu I wanted to get through that night so I thought I should hold myself back.
Once we got our seats (in my eyes, the best seats in the house – right in front of all the cooking action), we started ordering. All the seating is positioned around what serves as a bar and open kitchen. The bonus of this is that you can watch everyone’s meals being prepared. This also helps you to add to your list of orders!
We started with fried artichokes served with alioli. I absolutely love artichokes and these were just delicious. Again, they disappeared pretty quickly!
Then we moved onto the courgette flower which was stuffed with prawns. These were packed full of flavour and with the lovely crispiness of the flower, were beautiful.
Next came my favourite dish – neck of pork served with roasted red pepper and fried potatoes. This was a stunning dish. The pork was chargrilled and in my mind tasted like a very good steak. Although Carmen disagreed. She’s a proper steak lover so maybe you should trust her with this more than me! But personally I thought it was a really good dish. The roasted pepper tasted beautiful with the meat. I could have had another portion of this and I will be going back for it again. It was on special on Tuesday night so I’m hoping they’ll have it on again.
Due to the fact that we were right in front of the pass and could see everything that was going out, we were suddenly confronted with what looked like the most amazing dish we’d seen – the rump of lamb! We ordered it immediately.
Wow! This was melt in the mouth delicious! The lamb was so soft and tender and juicy. I could easily have had this again.
Next was the giant tiger prawn with chilli. I’m not normally a fan of chilli so I left Carmen to this. She did however give me a bite and I must say, it was beautiful. It had a lovely chargrilled taste and wasn’t too heavy on the chilli.
For pudding, I deliberated between the chocolate tart and the Santiago tart but decided on the Santiago tart. I always seem to be eating chocolate so I fancied a change, plus my mum makes a mean Santiago tart. The waiter told me that they spread a layer of quince in between the pastry base and the almond filling and that swung it for me.
I loved this. The almond filling actually had nice chunky pieces of almond in it. My mum uses ground almonds so its much smoother but I liked the contrast with this tart. And the quince adds a lovely sweetness to it. I asked for it to come served with double cream as opposed to ice cream and I’m not sure if I’m flattered or slightly offended that the waiter said afterwards that he had never seen anyone “enjoy eating double cream” as much as I clearly did! Hmmmm….could have had something to do with me pouring extra cream onto the spoon before I ate each bite!
By this point we were pretty full and were finishing up our wine but then kept noticing what the guys sitting next to us were ordering. We soon started talking and the New Yorkers very kindly allowed us to have bites of their spinach and ham tortilla (delicious!), the ribeye steak (Carmen said it was lovely) and the chocolate tart (very dark and rich. I’m glad I had the Santiago tart). Overall it was a thoroughly lovely evening. Good chat, fabulous meal and delicious wine. What can be better?
If you haven’t yet been and you love good tapas, I thoroughly recommend it. It’s a perfect restaurant to go with one other person. It’s too small if there are three of you and the person in the middle will end up with a sore neck by the end of the night!
54 Frith Street