Wednesday, December 24, 2014

BARRAFINA (Soho, London, UK)

54 Frith Street
London  W1D 4SL
Tel: +44 020 78138016
$$$$ ($50+)
Mon, 12/22/2014, 2:15pm walk-in (no reservations available)
    (4.5 Piglets)

Hidden on a bustling side street in London, this restaurant was first opened in 2007 by brothers Sam and Eddie Hart. They now have opened a second Barrafina as of July 2014 on Adelaide Street in Covent Garden (again, unreserved with 29 stools). The restaurant is small and casual. Inside, stools surround the open kitchen, and if you're lucky, you may be able to snag just one of them. Outside, a few tables are conveniently placed perfect for people watching.

The restaurant's menu consists of traditional and contemporary tapas. Headed by Executive chef Nieves Barragan Mohacho, the food is pure, fresh, and full of distinctive Spanish flavor. The restaurant recently earned their first Michelin star and is rated as one of the top 100 restaurants by TimeOut London. So my expectations: must be delicious.

We arrived at 2:15pm on a Monday with a queue inside. Seven people were ahead of us and we were told that we may be turned away (the restaurant closes at 3:00pm). Luckily, we were the last two to be taken and as a result, we ordered our dishes within 2 minutes, whilst standing waiting in the queue to be seated. Word of advice: go early or go home!

The menu:

CHORIZO IBERICO DE BELLOTA (£6.00): The spicy oil from the chorizo coats your mouth in every bite. It is one of those dishes where if you want a good chorizo, you order this dish.

COURGETTE FLOWER (£7.80): My favorite dish. This dish is probably one of the best courgette (zucchini) flowers I've ever had. Literally. The tempura batter was fried to perfection. And when you take that first bite, it oozes out a mild cheese that goes perfectly well with the tempura and courgette. I shared this dish, but I probably should have ordered one for myself cause it is quite small and well worth it.

OCTOPUS WITH CAPERS (£9.80): Imagine a delicate octopus, sliced, grilled and seasoned with the most delectable Spanish spices. Well, then you have this dish. The briny capers cut through the richness of this dish. The octopus was cooked perfectly and definitely did not have that rubber-like texture that many do when overcooked.

JAMON AND SPINACH TORTILLA (£7.00): This was my least favorite dish. The texture seemed to be a bit off. Everything from the sauce in the tortilla, to the spinach and the ham just seemed like a soggy mess. Probably best to order the original tortilla.

HAM CROQUETAS (£4.50 FOR 2): This dish was pretty good. The outside was crunchy the way a croqueta should be. Inside, trickled a bit of cheese and ham. This was definitely a creamy, heavy dish so two per order seemed about right.

WILD SEA BREAM (£12.80 FROM THE SPECIAL): This was a good fish. It was definitely fresh and you can taste the lemon and garlic infused to the fish. Skin was slightly crispy, which was ideal. The white fish definitely wasn't too pungent. Once you butcher the fish, run it through the olive oil sauce that the fish is marinated in. It finishes off the fish nicely.

KARMA DE DRAC 2011 (£6.00 FOR 125ML GLASS): This was a perfect red. Not too bold and heavy but quite light. It went perfectly well with the dishes and didn't seem to contrast any of the dishes too much. A must order.

Overall, it was a lovely meal from start to finish. We each paid approximately £40 for a drink and all the dishes. The only con is the fact that there are no reservations taken. Would I recommend this place again? Definitely! Only one bad dish amongst the many ordered!

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