Barrafina was always intended to be a solo excursions post because forever I couldn’t convince Shiima to come along with me as the menu looked scary to her haha! So, a couple weeks ago Shiima had Christmas dinner plans with her friends and I decided to take that opportunity to go on a solo excursion. After some initial research, it turned out Barrafina was the choice because it seemed to be unanimously judged, if not the best, certainly amongst a select few of best restaurants in London for 2016.
Barrafina is a Spanish tapas style restaurant with only bar seating that surrounds an open kitchen. There are three restaurants in fairly close proximity to each other – Dean Street in Soho; Adelaide Street just off the Strand; and Drury Lane in Covent Garden. I looked through the menus, and although there is some overlap in the dishes on offer, each restaurant does a fine job at offering unique dishes. Early last year while I tried to convince Shiima to come along to Barrafina, we only looked at the Dean Street menu, as that’s the restaurant we’d walked past a few times on route to Chotto Matte on Frith Street, but I was drawn to the Adelaide Street menu.
Barrafina in Adelaide Street is less than five minutes walk from Charing Cross Station. Soon as you step into the fairly small restaurant, you are taken by the excitement of the chefs and waiters just behind the bar, and you feel you’re in for an experience. I was alone so I got a seat in no time (there is usually a considerable wait). I’d scanned the menu thoroughly in selecting the restaurant, so I instantly knew what I was going for. A friendly waiter attended to me quite quickly and I unleashed my order lol – Iberian Pork Ribs; Chicken Wings with Mojo Picon; Quail Escabeche; and Stuffed Courgette Flower which was recommended by the waiter.
The food came as it was ready, and first was the Iberian Pork Ribs, which was really good; it was chopped to small bits and cooked in a tasty spicy sauce. Weirdly for ribs, you could easily eat these with just a fork and knife, as it was mostly succulent meat. I devoured this in minutes, and just as I was finishing my chicken wings arrived. The chicken was grilled to perfection and lightly seasoned, but then the Mojo Picon was an excellent accompaniment; it was rich and spicy. Fantastic dish. Next up was the Stuffed Courgette Flower, which was simply delicious. Courgette Flower stuffed with goats cheese and lightly fried in batter. It a dish I would’ve never ordered myself, but damn was I grateful for the waiter’s recommendation. This is blasphemy for a meat lover like me, but the Courgette Flower was my best dish up to that point. Lastly, the Quail arrived, and looking at it, I knew this wasn’t a job for a fork and knife – all hands! Lol. It was delicious as well, not spicy, but cooked and seasoned with care and topped with caramelised onions? I couldn’t tell lol, it was tasty though.
So with all that devoured, I was still hungry, and I heard another waiter joyously describe every single dish on the menu to a couple beside me, so soon as he was over I asked that he do the same for me. This was eye-opening, as suddenly there were so many more options open to me; I really couldn’t decide what to have next, but he suggested a couple light dishes – the Prawn and Bonito Carpaccio, and the Queen Scallop ceviche. I also cheekily added the Pintxos Morunos lol. The Prawn and Bonito Carpaccio was amazing, raw tuna (Bonito) and Prawns in a light delicious sauce. This was the highlight of my dining experience in Barafina; the best dish on offer, other dishes run it close but this was just perfect for me. The scallop Ceviche was also really good; a single scallop in shell and drowned in a light delicious salsa. The Pintxos Morunos was skewered Pork, cooked gently to medium and seasoned perfectly.
All in, my experience was absolutely fantastic, so much that I dragged Shiima back to Barrafina Adelaide Street a few days later to share the experience. I ordered for both of us, and I went with a lot that I’d ordered in my solo excursion but also quite a few new dishes – Pan Con Tomate, Monkfish Tempura, Classic Tortilla, Suckling Pig, and the Herb Crusted Rabbit. Shiima and I loved the Classic Tortilla, which was fried eggs stuffed with cheese onions and tomatoes. She really enjoyed the Pan Con Tomate, which is a tomato bruschetta – she especially loved the fresh soft bread. Needless to say, Shiima wanted nothing to do with the other new dishes, especially as she wont ever eat Rabbit because she had a rabbit as a pet, even tough I swore to her that it tasted just like chicken 😂. The Rabbit and the Suckling Pig were both good, and oddly both did taste like chicken. As I’d come to expect, they’d both been cooked to perfect tenderness, and I must add that the Suckling Pig was a VERY healthy portion. The Monkfish Tempura was a special, and it seems they change the specials every day so you might never get to order this, but if it is a special whenever you go visit, you should certainly consider ordering it because it is light and delicious.
For dessert Shiima had already decided on the doughnuts and chocolate sauce soon as the menus were handed to us lol. We had a doughnut each and Shiima doused hers in chocolate, whilst I occasionally dipped mine in chocolate lol. They were really good, although according to Shiima not super-sweet. Unexpectedly, our dessert turned out to be on the house and we are incredibly thankful for that 😊
I’d confidently say Shiima didn’t enjoy Barrafina as much as I did, but that’s relative because I enjoyed it immensely and she’s more than happy to make Barafina one of our regulars. The food is amazing and restaurant is very vibrant, but I think where it excels the most is the staff – they are genuinely friendly with the diners and each other and they all seem to be having a good time, which is ideal because you are right in their face lol. Expect a long wait though, as Shiima and I were told the wait was an hour and a half for a sit, but it turned out to be just a thirty-five minutes wait. Oh, and the food is also very modestly priced. I’d recommend primarily for foodies, and a chilled date when time isn’t a factor, in a perfect world I’d also recommend for large groups because there is so much on offer but the wait I imagine will be crippling.
Dress Code: Casual
Cuisine: Spanish Tapas
Amen’s Star Dish: Prawn and Bonito Carpaccio
Shiima’s Star Dish: Chicken Wings with Mojo Picon
Price: £20+ each (without alcoholic drinks)
Rating: 5 out of 5
Barrafina Adelaide Street
10 Adelaide Street, Covent Garden
London WC2N 4HZ
Barafina doesn’t take reservations.