i’ve been eating some wonderful food recently, both while travelling in spain but also in london, most recently at barrafina.
i have written about barrafina before – this small, but perfectly formed, tapas bar is modelled on the famous cal pep in barcelona and is one of my favourite places to eat in london.
i think barrafina is best visited when it’s just two of you, as sitting at the bar on stools is an intimate experience. you eat, drink, chat and watch the food being prepared and delivered; both remembering what you’ve yet to receive of your own order, whilst also trying to work out if you can squeeze in that something extra, that looked or smelt delicious as it was handed to your neighbour. going as a pair (or on your own, this is great for solo-eating) also reduces the waiting time you’re likely to have. athough having said that, my preference is to get there as they open for the evening (c5pm but arrive a bit before as there will be a queue outside the closed doors) so, fingers crossed, i can be seated straightaway.
there is a core menu which doesn’t change much but also a selection of daily specials. from the main menu we chose pan con tomate (a reminder of summer tomato flavours yet to come; sweet, fresh and with a hint of spice from some white pepper); octopus with capers (beautifully tender octopus drizzled with olive oil and dusted with sweet smoked paprika plus capers to inject bursts of salty pickled contrast); padron peppers; sardines, simply cooked on the plancha, and a stunning fennel and radish salad which used freshly ground white pepper to great effect.
this hint of white pepper was a theme in a number of the dishes, including one of the specials which i particularly enjoyed – calcots tempura (a type of large spring onion, cooked in a light batter) and served with what i think was a salbitxada sauce (tomatoes, garlic, olive oil and other flavourings blitzed with hazelnuts and almonds to create a roughly textured sauce). razor clams were on the menu so i had to order them (cooked on the plancha, with garlic and parsley) plus a duck egg and morcilla dish (served on toast, like the most luxurious breakfast treat imaginable).
as always we drank our wine and (alameda) sherry by the glass, flitting around the drinks list, trying whatever caught our eye.
barrafina’s delicious food and its approach to eating and drinking is something i love and every time i visit i want to return the following day. i’m not the only one who feels like that – sitting next to us were some tourists who confided that barrafina is the first restaurant they visit whenever they are in london, which makes perfect sense to me.
54 frith street, london, w1d 4sl
t: 0207 813 8016