First credited with bringing sophisticated Spanish fare to London with the launch of Fino back in 2003, the Hart Brothers have continued to woo the capital with the excellent Barrafina in Soho. A shining example of all that is top-class in tapas, Barrafina has now spawned a second site on Adelaide Street, WC2.
Conveniently located for a visit to the National Gallery, this new Barrafina looks exactly as one would expect: a buzzy bar, an open kitchen (complete with snazzy new josper grill), and lip-smackingly fresh seafood laid over crushed ice.
The beauty of Barrafina is that thanks to eating at the bar, there is always an atmosphere, no matter what time you arrive. The downside? At peak times it can be tricky to find a seat so you might have to wait for a table – no bad thing once you’ve seen the wine list and have a glass of chilled cava in your hand.
The menu reads like a fiesta of authentic flavours; from frituras and jamon, to tortillas and arroz de marisco, Barrafina is the sort of place where whatever you order, you know you’ll be licking the plate clean.
We opt for crab croquetas to get us going, which are fabulously light and perfectly crisp spheres, followed by tuna and a special of monkfish tail with trompet mushrooms. If you’re into beige foods, you’ll enjoy the gluey potato slick that accompanies the tuna, but it smacks of béchamel to me – a comfort food that makes me distinctly uncomfortable. However it’s nicely offset by a vibrant tomato sauce. Much better still is the monkfish, so often rendered tough by an incompetent hand, this tail was practically swimming in its juice of piquillo and rich mushroom stock.
The aforementioned josper is quite a piece of kit and it’s imperative you try something from its smoky depths. You won’t go wrong with the Iberican pork ribs, these bones are banging. Unctous and juicy, the meat melts away and pools in a sticky glaze filled with onions – for which you’ll need some bread to mop it up.
Brains were off the menu on our visit (boo) but we satisfied an offal craving with a delicate dish of sweetbreads with capers.
Much-loved for good reason, it’s fair to say Barrafina is something of an institution in London so hurrah for Adelaide Street – now there are more seats to go around.