barrafina, w1

it’s odd but if i am ever asked what is my favourite type of food is, it really wouldn’t occur to me to say spanish, but when i think about my favourite meals in recent months, it has been london’s spanish restaurants that have been exciting me.

and thanks to barrafina i am very excited. barrafina is the sister restaurant to fino, which is a long-standing favourite of mine. barrafina is a stylish tapas bar, modelled on cal pep in barcelona. it has a mere 23 stools placed around an l-shaped bar, behind which are the metal hot-plates (plancha) on which, much of the food you eat will be grilled.

arrive early and expect to queue. but don’t worry, the queuing is no hardship – a glass or two from their excellent wine list and possible a few tapas to stop your tummy from growling too loudly and the time will fly by.

in addition to the items on the menu there were a number of specials on offer, several of which we decided to try.

the first of these, and my favourite dish, was razor clams a la plancha which were stunningly fresh, tender and sweet with the taste of the sea. accompanied by gambas al ajillo (charred on the grill for extra flavour), pan con tomate (superb, absolutely packed with tomato flavours, chipirones (this was the only dish i wouldn’t reorder, the taste of the batter overwhelmed the flavour of the baby squid) and a meat platter we were off to a good start.

this was followed by a more substantial leg of lamb special, accompanied by another special, green beans with bacon. the lamb was beautifully cooked and incredibly tender. and at £10.50 for more than enough meat for the two of us, a veritable bargain.

somehow we also managed to work our way through a delicious cheese board (a single portion is enough for two) but i think this was due to our reluctance to stop drinking the fine wine that was on offer. everything is available by the glass and i would particularly recommend the pazo de senorans 2006 (rias baixas – albarino) and the cal pla red 2002 (priorat - garnacha and carinena).

we spent £55 on food (and a slightly smaller amount on wine!) which is really good value for food of this quality. and if you are slightly less greedy than my friend mel and i, you could probably get away with less on both the food and wine front.

i can’t wait to go back.


54 frith street, london, w1d 4sl

telephone: 0207 813 8016

other spanish restaurants in london that i love include moro, fino, tapas brindisa and eyre brothers.