Last week my friend Charlotte and I had the most fantastic meal at the new Barrafina on Drury Lane, Covent Garden. We initially tried to get into the Adelaide Street branch but with the wait being over an hour, they directed us to the Drury Lane branch which had a smaller queue, so we hot-footed it down the road to Covent Garden. As we walked in, we were immediately greeted with smiles from the staff behind the counter who said we’d have a short wait. Sure enough, 10 minutes later we were ushered to our spot at the bar.
The layout is exactly the same as Frith Street’s branch. I love Soho’s Barrafina but since they were awarded a Michelin star I just can’t deal with the queue. I’ve tried a few times in the last few months, I’ve even left work early in order to get in there but even getting there way before it opens, the queue is already snaking around the streets of Soho. As much as I love it, I just haven’t got the patience to stand outside in the cold. It really does take the shine off an evening.
The staff at Drury Lane couldn’t have been lovelier. All were friendly, smiley, chatty, helpful and knowledgeable. Our waitress answered all our questions about the menu and talked us through the specials. We ended up chatting to two guys sitting alongside us who recommended the courgette flowers. I do love sitting at a bar, it really does open the door to joining in with your neighbours conversations. Its a lot easier to lean over and ask them what they’re eating, or ask if they would recommend any specific dishes.
I also love watching the chefs preparing the food before my eyes, although it usually means I order more than I can eat. Every time I see something else being plated up I’m leaning over saying, “Oooh, that looks good, I’ll have one of those too”. One other thing I did notice was how organised and clean they keep it.
Charlotte and I ordered six dishes and asked for them to come in three stages of two. First up were the stuffed courgette flowers (£7. 80) and tuna ceviche from the specials board. The courgette flowers came stuffed with goats cheese and drizzled with honey and were a delight. Smooth and creamy and the perfect balance of tangy and sweet. The tuna ceviche was like a party in my mouth.We both started laughing as we saw each other’s expressions whilst eating it. It was so fresh, so zingy, I never wanted it to end. I would go back there for this dish alone, but next time I would order a few of them just for me!
Next up was pumpkin, also from the specials board, which was bread-crumbed and fried, and soft shell crab (£10.80). The pumpkin was soft and sweet inside and perfectly crispy on the outside, the soft shell crab was absolutely divine! The crispiness outside, the soft juiciness inside, the saffron ailoi, the chilli, the vinaigrette…it all came together in one glorious union.
Starting to feel full, the two most filling dishes arrived last…chorizo tortilla (£7.80) and Poached Duck Egg on Brioche (£8.50). But my God they were good. Cutting the tortilla in half, it almost oozed with caramelised onions and chorizo, it was absolutely divine. The duck egg on brioche was pretty much breakfast on a plate. The rich golden duck egg yolk running into the thick slab of toasted brioche was a delight. And teamed with the salty bacon, I didn’t care how full I was, I just knew I couldn’t leave any of it on the plate. With so many places offering fab brunches all over London, I’m amazed I haven’t yet found one place doing anything as simple and delicious as this. I’d have this every weekend if I could.
So yes, I know I said I was full by this point, but after another glass of wine, and a little bit of time, I felt like I could do with a bite of something sweet. The waitress recommended the Torrijas (£6.80)…caramelised French toast made with brioche, with a caramel sauce and crème fraîche ice cream. Needless to say it was worth the extra few pounds I no doubt put on by eating it.
The Drury Lane Barrafina certainly didn’t disappoint. I will probably head to this branch more seeing as Frith and Adelaide Street’s queues are so crazy. Saying that, I don’t expect the queues to get any smaller at this branch as it deserves to be every bit as popular as the others, but at least you know that you’ve got a bloody good meal waiting for you when you do get that elusive seat.
Barrafina, 43 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5AJ
Monday to Saturday: 12–3pm, 5–11pm