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Barrafina, London [Restaurant Review]

Monday, 16 March 2009

Reviewed by The Wild Boar

We continued our Spanish food extravaganza by visiting Barrafina, another restaurant recommended by my friends. We arrived at 5.50pm on a Friday evening and it was already full and bustling with activity. Just to clarify, Barrafina is strictly a bar with only stools (about 20 in total) around a counter, there were no tables.

barrafina

Fresh seafood were displayed upon a bed of ice, next to a grill top where the cooks prepared the seafood and tortillas in front of the customers while inside was the kitchen. Along one side of the wall, we queued up behind another two couples.

barrafina seafood counter

barrafina sausages

While waiting, the waitress said it would take probably 15 minutes until we get a seat (a very conservative estimate as it turned out) and we could order food and drinks in the mean time. It was still quite early so we only ordered some drinks (red Rioja for the PigPig, a half pint of Cruzcampo for me). After a while though, the smell of good food had my stomach acids sloshing around. The guy waiting behind us ordered potato croquettes which looked and smelled so amazing. There were also huge trays of the croquettes ready made in the fridge so we figured it must be popular and duly ordered some.

barrafina ham croquetas
Ham croquettes in the fridge.

It turned out to be as good as it looked/smelled – deep fried to a beautiful golden colour, wonderfully light potato exterior with a creamy cheesy filling with generous portions of Spanish ham.

barrafina ham croquetas 2
Ham croquettes

barrafina ham croquetas 3
Creamy and tasty ham croquettes

Anyway, that was a good beginning but it took a full 45 minutes from the time we started queuing before we actually got our seats. A friendly waiter (all are of Spanish origin) explained the specials of the day (sadly, the suckling pig was sold out. The people beside me looked really happy eating it though. We were quite jealous). We decided to quickly order three dishes since we were so hungry by the time.

barrafina suckling pig
Our neighbour digging into the last suckling pig.

First up was one of the day’s specials, Grilled razor clams which were fresh, delicious and very sweet.

barrafina razor clam
Razor clams

Soon was the Grilled prawns with garlic and chilli (Gambas de ajillo on the menu), also fresh, delicious and very sweet. Basically, the seafood was fresh and simply cooked, which is how I believe good seafood should be.

barrafina Gambas al Ajillo
Grilled prawns with garlic and chilli

Last of the three initial dishes was the Classic tortilla. The tortilla looked plain from the outside, but uncooked egg yolk spills out from the middle upon cutting it. Amazing to look at, but even better to eat.

barrafina tortilla classic
Classic tortilla

barrafina tortilla
Classic tortilla

Well, no surprise that it wasn’t enough. We ordered another three dishes to follow. One of the waiter’s recommendations was Morcilla with piquillo peppers, morcilla being Spanish black pudding, something we also ordered in El Faro a week ago. This version was much more beautifully presented, with a bed of sliced peppers and topped with a fried quail’s egg. The morcilla itself was amazingly tasty, more in keeping with chorizo and not really having the liver taste I normally associate with black puddings.

barrafina Morcilla with Piquillo Peppers
Morcilla with piquillo peppers

After that was Chickpeas, spinach and bacon; a dish we wouldn’t normally order but it had seemed very popular with other people. The bacon was crispy and had all the salt the dish needed. I would have preferred more spinach and less chickpeas as it was our token vegetable dish.

barrafina Chickpeas, Spinach and Bacon
Chickpeas, spinach and bacon

Last dish of the day was Tuna tartar. I think this was meant to resemble the classical French dish, beef tartar – raw chunks of fresh red tuna meat mixed with a variety of herbs, sesame seeds and drizzled with sesame oil. A puree of avocado came with it which was nice and soothing to the tongue. I would highly recommend this dish to anybody who goes to this restaurant, although it seems more Japanese than Spanish in nature.

barrafina Tuna Tartar
Tuna tartar

We were quite full by this time so only one dessert this time – Chocolate tart. Very rich, moist (almost juicy in nature) and chocolatey, but the pastry wasn’t very nice, being quite thin and flaky. It was probably just overwhelmed by the chocolateness.

barrafina Chocolate Tart
Chocolate tart

Overall, the bill came up to about £35 per person, including service charge, two beers and two glasses of red wine (I recommend ignoring the cheaper Rioja, its rubbish, the £6/glasss Urbinas is pretty good but we didn’t try the £10/glass Rioja).

Food - 7.0
Service - 7.5
Atmosphere - 8.0
Value - 6.0


The food was of high quality, cooked in a fairly simple manner but very deliciously seasoned to taste. I would say that the food here in Barrafina was of better taste and quality compared to El Faro. However, its not just the food, the atmosphere in Barrafina is nicer, more interesting, more fun. We got to have a chat with the waiter serving us, and we noticed that there is no time limit on how long you can have your seat, as long as you can tolerate the evil glares from hungry people.

However, you might have noticed the text additions besides the normal scoring; that’s because this eating place certainly has a few drawbacks, mainly the waiting time at the queue and un-party-friendly seating arrangements. The latter is partly due to them having a sister restaurant, Fino, where one can have a proper table to sit at.


Barrafina
54 Frith Street,
London,
W1D 4SL
Tel: +44(0)207 813 8016
Official website





Barrafina on Urbanspoon

29 oink oinks...:

Su-Lin said...

I had a fabulous time when I ate at Barrafina too! Glad you like it!

5 Star Foodie said...

Those are some fun delicious eats! I would love a taste of all of these dishes!

Apples and Butter said...

So wish I had known about this when I was in London last summer. This looks absolutely amazing! Will add it to the list in case we get back that way sometime soon!

Donna-FFW said...

I wish I could sample some. Such exquisite food, MMM. I hope to visit London someday!

Pam said...

I think everything looks amazing, especially the razor clams.

Wild Boar said...

Su-Lin:
A fellow fan! Btw, your rendang looks awesome!

Pam:
Oh yeah, the clams were really juicy and sweet. I didn't say much about it in the review because it was quite a simple dish, but its overall tastiness shouldn't be underestimated.

Lorraine @NotQuiteNigella said...

*sob sob* It's food like this that makes me miss London so much! We don't get razor clams here so I wish I'd tried some!

Reeni♥ said...

Beautiful! The tortilla is especially calling out to me!

Cynthia said...

The food looks fantastic.

noble pig said...

Wow, all amazing choices. What a night.

email2me said...

The clam so little only ..... enough meh?? =.="

That kind of amount just enough as my appetizer. It does looks good but portion wise .......

Kitchen Flavours said...

Chocolate tart looks rich and indulging...

Maria said...

Looks like a great place to dine!

Olga said...

how do you manage to take such amazing photos inside of a restaurant? mine come out absolutely dark!
if you can let me know at orchidgirl1979 at gmail dot com, I'd totally appreciate it.

the food looks fantastic!

Shari@Whisk: a food blog said...

I love your photos. I've never been brave enough to take pictures at a restaurant. Looks like a great meal!

Grace said...

that tortilla looks AMAZING. i just died a little bit inside knowing i won't have a bite for dinner any time soon. :)

Natashya said...

Your pictures are breathtaking! Looks wonderful all around. What an interesting place.

lisa said...

It all looks so delicious! I want the tortilla right now, and the prawns, and the razor clams, and the tuna and pureed avocado . . .

Sandie said...

Razor clams...I've never seen those before... planning my trip across the pond!

mycookinghut said...

Looks good!! I

Joie de vivre said...

What a feast! Your photos are amazing. I totally want those razor clams!

Bunny said...

WOW!! I could inhale all this no problem!

Núria said...

Wow! What a tapas Feast!!!!! Could you walk outside or just rolled out? He, he, just kidding!!! Barrafina looks fantastic. YOur choice of tapas is perfect, I specially love the morcilla & piquillo & quail egg... delicious :D

Wild Boar said...

email2me:
I feel your pain. I think that plate was cleaned out in under a minute. The Pigpig took longer taking pictures than me eating it. But tapas is meant to be quite small portions anyway, like "dim sum".

Núria:
Actually, I was merely 85% full and could probably have ordered another few more dishes, but didn't want to risk indigestion haha.

I noticed a lot of people are commenting mostly on the razor clams and tortilla. I'm not surprised to be honest, they're both extremely good eats.

janetching said...

Wow, Spanish Tapas Crawl is something I have to do when I visit London again! Your pictures are a guarantee of the good food!

Big Boys Oven said...

this looks so amazing . . . I just miss them so much!

foodhoe said...

what a meal! everything looks fantastic, I love grilled razor clams and that definitely jumped out at me too.

Janet @Gourmet Traveller 88 said...

Hi there, went to Barrafina last week, love it. Definitely have to revisit again!

Wild Boar said...

foodhoe:
You got good taste!

Janet @Gourmet Traveller 88:
I'm glad you enjoyed your meal there especially since I loved it so much.

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