I've been meaning to eat at Barrafina literally forever having read tons of reviews praising their tapas and reporting on how long the wait can be, this must be special. After a few drinks one evening in Soho Thomas and I decided to see what all the furore is about.
We queued for a while admittedly because we got there at 8:30. We had a nice glass of house red to keep us occupied though and the place is buzzy and fun, there's plenty to look at, fortunately the wait gave us time to have a look at the dishes being doled out to the lucky punters already seated and eating. Welcome time to ponder what we might like to sample.
Our waiters were on the ball and I thought the service was very efficient, which i'd not expected having previously read some negative feedback. We started off with some olives and ham croquetas.
Much praise is steeped upon these delightful little fried balls with an oozy filling of cheese and ham. These were the one thing I was desperate to try and they didn't disappoint. This is the type of dish that one could easily order another portion of right after finishing the first though we managed to refrain. I LOVED them. The olives too were great, particularly the green ones, my favourite, nice orangey flavour to them, peel and all.
Next to arrive was the chorizo iberico. An incredibly generous serving, slices filling an entire wooden board made for an impressive looking spread and good value for money at under £6. We were also tempted to try the sliced ham with a leg displayed near to the front of the bar but thought chorizo was a must and didn't fancy a meat fest. Delivered with the chorizo were the green peppers.
I probably wouldn't have selected these myself but Thomas assured me they would be great and I did enjoy them. They were sprinkled with sea salt and grilled until soft. Such a delicate flavour that even the stalks were edible and as tasty as the fruit itself. Just the right amount of heat too.
Next we had the octopus with capers. I was unsure what to expect of this dish but the flavour and texture of the octopus was lovely. It was served warm rather than hot which I suppose is how it ought to be. The capers provided a nice salty edge to the surprisingly subtle mildness of flavour from the octopus. The whole meal was a little salt heavy, bad Barrafina.
We asked for some bread with olive oil to accompany the brilliantly never ending serving of chorizo, it arrived promptly, warm and crisp, with an (again generous) dish of oilve oil which was possibly the finest I've ever had. I was suprised that the final dishes to arrive were the anchovy and smoked bacon salad and the chips with bravas sauce but both were well worth the wait.
The salad, 3 halves of baby gem each topped with an anchovy fillet and a rasher of crunchy bacon, was a perfect amalgamation of textures and tastes, the dressing was perhaps a little too tart for my liking, a tad too much wine vinegar but Thomas thought this was the highlight of the meal.
The fries were magnificent, topped with a garlicky salt and ample sauce to dip, so much more satisfying than ketchup. A good champion for the cause in the fries versus chips debate (I usually prefer a chunkier chip but these were faultless).
With our request for tap water generously greeted with a bottle we didn't even need anymore wine. We did need to share a dessert though and went for the creme catalana. This was zesty and a little boozy, a great end to the meal.
Obviously I would recommend Barrafina, few who have dined the wouldn't I'm sure but I would suggest timing your arrival better than we did, or tackle the queue when tipsy, this made the wait for the nicest meal I've had in a while infinitely more bareable, excellent value for money too at just over £50 for the 2 of us with wine and service.
54 Frith St, W1