Barrafina, a small tapas bar on Frith Street in Soho has proved so popular that they’ve opened another in Covent Garden. As I’ve been to neither, I thought I’d pop my cherry with a visit to the original, which recently received a Michelin star.
I was pre-warned about the lengthy queues (they don’t take reservations) so we arrived at 5:45 and nabbed the last remaining stools. The open kitchen gave the place a lively atmosphere and our tatt-covered waitress was very charming indeed.
We started with the cold meat platter (£13) which featured cecina de León, lomo Ibérico de bellota, salchichón de Vic and chorizo Ibérico de bellota. All were absolutely delicious with the perfect amount of oiliness and they went perfectly with the pan con tomate (£2.80 a slice).
The ham croquetas (£4.50) were beautifully gooey with a crisp breadcrumbed coating; they were divine. The chicken thighs with romesco sauce (£7.50) had been deboned and were so perfectly cooked (succulent flesh with crunchy skin) that I felt like standing on my stool and doing a dance.
The rest of the dishes weren’t quite so successful though. Chorizo, potato and watercress (£7.50) had a pleasant flavour but the spicy sausage was rather tough to cut through. Milk fed lamb (£12.80) was a pleasant couple of mouthfuls but the slices were so thin it didn’t seem good value for money.
The gambas allijo (£8) (that’s prawns) were a bit too mushy for me; they fell apart and disintegrated as I shelled them which didn’t feel right. Again, the prawns in the prawn and piquillo pepper tortilla (£7) were mushy and a bit flavourless too.
The chips with brava sauce (£4) were really bloomin’ tasty but I would have rather had the more traditional patatas bravas. The worst dish was the pluma Ibericá with confit potatoes (£12.50) which had thin slices of Lancashire Hot Pot style potatoes that were inedibly salty and a piece of pork that was totally devoid of flavour. I thought Ibericá pluma was supposed to be the very best – but that wasn’t evident here.
Our meal at Barrafina certainly wasn’t a disaster, in fact it was good. But at those prices I was hoping for a bit better than good, I wanted it to be spectacular. There was nothing I couldn’t get at Josē on Bermondsey Street for half the price – a restaurant which in my opinion is far superior.