I came to London for a single day this year and managed to somehow find the time to squeeze one good meal in on a Sunday night before a crazy day of meetings on the Monday. I gave my two colleagues a choice of Chinese, Peruvian and Spanish tapas and since they chose the later, I knew Barrafina was the natural choice. Believe it or not I had been there just once during my three years in London though it was definitely memorable. We first attempted to go to their new branch on Dean Street but gave up as the queue was too long and walked to their outpost on Drury Lane in Covent Garden.
Shockingly we were next in line and drooled on everyone’s gorgeous dishes as we waited our turn.
What we ate:
Portobello croquettes: I remember loving their croquettes during my first visit so it was a must repeat. Most people know I am not usually the one to gravitate towards breaded deep fried nibbles but it’s because they don’t ever taste as good as these gooey, hot centered croquettes enveloped in a crispy perfectly fried casing. Best dish on the menu!
Pan con tomate: a classic. Good but I prefer a higher ratio of tomatoes to bread and bigger chunkier tomato cubes.
Fried artichokes: I loooove artichokes but usually the frying is superfluous. In this case it was crunchy and delicious.
Tortilla: we debated between classic and chorizo and opted for the traditional. Why is a simple combination of eggs, potatoes and onions such an art and why can’t I manage to replicate such simplicity? Their tortilla is the second best I’ve ever had (see best tapas in San Sebastián) and is perfectly creamy and delicious inside (it often tends to be on the dry side). A must.
Soft shell crab: my colleagues choice and I went with it. Another deep fried dish, once again crispy and expertly done and resembling more of a Chinese preparation style as opposed to a Spanish one.
Arroz negro: perfectly al dente rice in a creamy squid ink preparation. Solid but not as mind blowing as other dishes.
Pork belly with salsa verde: we watched as the chef took a massive chunk of pork and carved it and chopped it, throwing 70% of it out until he got to three perfectly rectangular pieces of pork belly. We split our one order and my collage professed that it was the best pork belly he ever had. It was so good I had to save one piece of the almost brittle like skin as my last bite as we waited for the last dish. I just knew this has to be the final taste in my mouth.
Boquerone with squid: I am glad I didn’t really care for this, as at this point I had ‘a sufficiency’ (which is an expression Stewart’s grandmother used for when very full) and easily left all the bread surrounding the rings of deep fried calamari. Why deep fry calamari and then put it between bread smothered with aioli? Nuts. But not my choice and the last morsel of crispy pork crackling sent me home happy.
We skipped dessert as we needed a walk, destination Gelupo…a boyfriend I had once said ice cream helped digestion, I decided to check his theory…..!
In sum: best tapas in London. Happy friendly service and amazing food.
43 Drury Ln, London WC2B 5AJ, UK