Ever since Barrafina opened in 2007 it has been a firm favourite amongst the foodie pack, one of the best, buzziest places in London’s Soho to grab a bite to eat. So when we heard the news that a Covent Garden branch was opening up (a stones throw from Grazia HQ), we were more than a little happy. Deputy Picture Editor Marc Morgan volunteered (or rather, nearly bit our hands off) to go try it out. Here’s what he thought….
‘The no reservations policy currently rampaging through London has its pros and cons, its fans and its detractors. Me, I like it – avoid the obvious peak times and you can walk straight to a prime seat. My new favourite is Barrafina on Adelaide Street, behind St. Martins on the Field. Owned by brothers Sam and Eddie Hart, it’s the sister restaurant to the renowned Soho branch, and aims to serve classic and contemporary tapas using the best seasonal ingredients.
Airy and bright with giant picture windows, the sun was blazing in when I visited, but I can imagine loving sitting there scoffing away whilst the rain pelted down and gales blew. It’s the kind of place to pop in for half an hour, or while away an entire afternoon sitting on stools by the marble counter watching the open kitchen beaver away rustling up an array of splendid dishes.
Jose Etura is maître d, and has an amazing team (big hola to Tabata!) ready to inform and recommend, whilst also advising the odd break and glass of water – all in a good cause, as no need to overdo it too quickly and greedily (note to self!) A savoury glass of Manzanilla to start was delicious with the nutty Jamon Iberico de Bellota and some yummy olives with quail eggs, while we perused the menu. Next we tried various specials – tempura prawn with fermented wild black garlic alioli in a cute shot glass; tender razor clams and juicy deep water mussels with an unexpected vinegary kick – washed down with 2 different recommendations from the white wine offer – special nod to The Flower and The Bee 2012.
A little break, then on to Chiperones – tiny baby squid in panko crumbs; Queen Scallop Ceviche, and a huge stuffed courgette flower overflowing with honey and melting cheese. I resisted the call of Ortiguillas – sea anemone – that’s a treat for next time. Then time for some meat – Frit Mallorcain was a spicy mix of lamb liver and kidney, with prawns and pinenuts, with which we ordered yellow chicory with Don Bocarte anchovies and Salmorejo (a type of gazpacho). Jose suggested we have some bread to mop up. I did think enough carbs already, but it would have a criminal waste to miss out on those sauces. We drank a powerful red - Karma de Drac 2011 with this – who doesn’t want good Karma?
To be honest, after this feast, we had no room for desserts. I did succumb to the Spanish cheese selection, ostensibly to finish my red, but was very easily talked into a glass of Alameda, a nutty semi sweet sherry – I now cannot imagine cheese without it. Note to self, must search now for stockists!!
After that feast, it was definitely time for a siesta….all in all, hasta pronto Barrafina!’
Barrafina, 10 Adelaide street, London WC2N 4HZ. Call 020 7440 1450