Barrasina Restaurant

54 Frith St, London, W1D 4SL Directions

   Open today 12:00 - 15:00

Business overview

The second restaurant from Sam and Eddie Hart (owners of Fino in Charlotte Street), Barrafina is a Spanish Tapas bar with a counter seating 25 people and a few tables and chairs outside during the summer - the Tapas is of the highest quality and the atmosphere busy.

Photos

Image of Barrasina Restaurant

Products & Services

Vegetarian Dishes

Bar

Outdoor Seating

Provided by The Local Data Company

Reviews

Muy Caro

3
In short, good food at ridiculous prices.
The problem is that the format is that of any good bar you can find in Madrid, Barca, San Sebastian etc, etc.
But this is London, I hear you say. Well, I suggest that los ninos Hart are squirreling away a very tidy profit from some rather gullible Londoners
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Fantastic tapas!

5
A good friend of mine happened to be in town last week and so we arranged to meet at Barrafina, one of his favourite restaurants in London and one that I’d been meaning to try. We met there at noon on a Saturday and were the second and third people to grab seats at the bar. The place filled up within half an hour so it seems the best thing to do is to get there when it just opens (they don’t take bookings).

When I saw ham croquetas on the menu, I knew I had to have them! We ordered those while still perusing the menu. They were extremely creamy inside and crisp on the outside and exactly how I like my croquetas!

From the daily specials, we ordered the grilled razor clams with olive oil, garlic and parsley. These were probably cooked a la plancha and were not at all rubbery but tender and so flavourful. My friend recommended the grilled lamb cutlets from the regular menu and so they went into our order. Very soft and we got stuck in with our fingers here. Also from the specials was the cavolo nero, braised with olive oil and garlic. Beautiful! The cavolo nero still had a bite but was tender and had toasted patches that were wonderful. I just bought some cavolo nero at my farmers’ market to try replicating it this week. Another special - this time it was grilled squid, stuffed with tomato and chorizo. Again, this dish was faultless.

We were starting to get full at this point and so focused our attention on desserts! I chose the chocolate tart while my friend ordered the fig salad with creme chantilly and toasted sliced almonds. Both were truly delicious. There was a bit of cream alongside my chocolate tart, which was rich and dense and a little of eating like eating dark chocolate ganache in a thin pastry shell. As for my friend’s fig salad, it was fresh ripe figs with a huge mound of creme chantilly (I originally mistook it for ice cream). I could have eaten a huge bowlful of this - the almonds and caramel sauce over top made it perfect.

It seems strange that we didn’t order any of their sliced jamon but though they had a leg prominently displayed on the counter, no one was having any. It was hot food all the way for everyone. Their tortillas looked fantastic too - little individual ones with soft innards - I’ll definitely try one next time.

However, it wasn’t a cheap lunch. For all the food, one glass of wine and all the tap water we could drink, it was £50 for the two of us. However, even with the limited seating, we never once felt rushed and our waitress was happy for us to order one or two tapas at a time. There’s a small counter along the wall where you can wait with a drink and a small bite for a seat - but as I noticed above, it’s probably easiest if you show up when they just open. I can’t wait to return (after I’ve saved up a bit)!

Photos at the blog: http://tamarindandthyme.wordpress.com/2008/10/20/a-tapas-lunch-at-barrafina/
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Queuing sensation.

5
On the four occasions or so I’ve been here, luck often prevails with me securing a seat within ten minutes of queuing. This place has to be one of the highlights for me this year. The food, service and ambience were all pretty much faultless. The catches of the day from the wet fish counter and the Jamon de Jabugo are well worth the expense and repeat visits. Other memorable dishes sampled included Grilled Quail with Allioli, Pork Chop with Cauliflower Puree, Ham Croquetas, Ariston and on and on. This place is good; so good that I feel totally spirited away and it sort of turns me into a happy shiny person. I would have given the perfect 10 for the food except that the acquired blandness of the Classic Tortlla renders the verdict otherwise.

Barrafina is expensive, but then again it’ll cost even more to go to Barcelona these days.
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Fantastic but be prepared for a wait

5
Barrafina is a little tricky to find since it announces its presence with little more than a word on the front door, but you'll find it easily enough if you look for a small restaurant with a queue flowing down the street. In fact, the second time I visited I was initially turned away but remained steadfast in the queue, was joined by my friend and (eventually) sat down to a very nice meal.

The staff are attentive and serve drinks and small snacks while you're waiting. Be prepared for a long queue, especially on weekends.

The food itself is generally excellent and mouth-watering, though I found the Pan Con Tomate less flavoursome than I hoped. The prawn and pepper tortilla was cooked in front of us and was deliciously runny inside (a personal favourite) and I can recommend the Sardines la Plancha. Though I do have a thing for sardines. The Creme Catalana was nice, if a touch too sweet. Our chef was incredibly jovial and made some good suggestions.

I'm no wine drinker but I managed to imbibe two very nice glasses of red, one at the bar and one during.

Expect to pay over £60 for two with wine for a modest tapas meal and far more for a spanish feast.
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Overpriced but good

4
There tends to be a pattern when new styles of cuisine are introduced to this country. The pioneer restaurants will be toned down, tame versions of the originals, designed to appeal to the masses; think Pizza Express in the 60s or Yo! Sushi in the 90s. Nothing too weird, nothing too offensive to the timid British palette, but due mainly to the novelty factor they are wild successes, at least for the first few years. Then once the novelty wears off, a new wave of more adventurous outlets open that offer something more closely approximating the "authentic" taste from abroad. So then you start noticing things like octopus or squid in your nigiri, or fresh basil and real buffalo mozzerella on your pizza. I'm generalising of course, but with passing time it seems diners, having gotten over the original shock factor and bragging rights of trying something new, will demand a more genuine experience. At least, snobs like me do.

There is sometimes a "Stage 3": Having mastered the said style of cuisine, some brave restauranteurs will take it one step further, and you end up with bizarre fusions like French-Japanese or Afghan-Ethopian. Most of these are hideous, so it's generally in the what I like to call "Stage 2" restaurants are you most likely to get a good meal. So where La Tasca bravely brought spanish tapas to an anonymous shopping mall near you, Barrafina in Soho ups the ante by actually trying to do it well.

However, this is London, and there are certain conditions. Tapas in Spain (at least outside the tourist areas of Catalonia) are little plates of bitesize morsels (chorizo, bread & tomato, croquettas, etc.) that are placed on your drink for free (yes, free!) whenever you order. In Barrafina, you pay £7 for a tiny plate of skewered quail and then have to cough up another £5 for a glass of Manzanilla sherry. Still, you'd think I'd be used to it by now.

Moaning aside, Barrafina was actually a reasonably enjoyable way to spend an evening. Looking less inside like an authentic tapas bar than a 1950s American diner, there were a dozen or so red leather stools alongside a gleaming chrome bar. The food (at least most of it) was cooked on a hot plate just behind the bar in full view of the diners, which was great fun to watch. Serving staff and kitchen staff all wore the same white outfits and moved around in the same space so you actually felt quite involved in the whole process. We randomly picked a few things from the menu and sat back and watched as they were cooked in front of us.

First to arrive was Pan amb Tomate (tomato bread), which was actually as good as I've had in Spain. Tomato flesh on crunchy bread spiced with raw garlic, it is admittedly a difficult thing to get wrong but even so was very nice. A board of sliced chorizo appeared next, which were only OK but swiftly followed with sweet and succulent whole prawns cooked in salt, the best of all the dishes we tried. The special tomato salad was full of flavour but hugely overseasoned - it was crunchy with salt. I saw the chef loading it with the stuff as I was sat about 3 foot away whilst the dish was being prepared, and I probably should have said something at the time, but never mind. Next, a couple of roast quail were tasty and succulent but with quite a layer of fat and again overseasoned. The accompanying aioli was delicious however, and we kept it back to dip our pimientos in. Finally, a dish of lamb cutlets was well cooked and presented, although I'm not sure how closely this fits the "tapas" brief.

The bill, with a couple of glasses of sherry and some nice Catalan red wine, came to £70 for two. This is a lot for tapas (I can only imagine the amount of food you'd have if you spent £70 in a tapas bar in Madrid), but not a lot for London to be honest. And we did have plenty to eat and drink. So I can recommend Barr
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