Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Restaurant review: BARRAFINA (Covent Garden)

On my birthday (18th April), I ventured out of my cheap and cheerful and/or Groupon-bought dining comfort zone and celebrated in style with an altogether more upmarket dinner at Barrafina.

The restaurant specialises in Spanish tapas, and after the nightmare that was Salvador and Amanda with all their short-cut taking, I was naturally, a little hesitant.

I needn't have worried; Barrafina has restored my faith in Spanish tapas in London.

Here are some pictures:

As prior to my visit to Barrafina, the closest I get to ‘authentic Spanish dining’ is when I have the chicken, prawn and chorizo paella from Tesco’s Finest range, I was in heaven! My favourite of all the things I ate was the special, an ingenious concoction of fried egg on beef tartare. The beef was so soft and the egg made a surprisingly pleasant dipping sauce, as well as providing protein. This special had been slow-cooked and its vibrant flavour was incredibly satisfying.

To add to our gluttony, we also had the jamón and spinach tortilla. This, too, had a punchy sauce on top, which was perfect for immersing the dough of the tortilla in. The pastry had been fried and I wolfed it down (most unlike me, as I usually leave crusts when I eat pizzas!).

For me, no tapas experience is complete without some seafood, and the bocadillo de calamar encebollado was heavenly. As you can see from the picture, the sandwich is quite thick, and each bite packs maximum flavour. The calamaris used were just the right level of tenderness, the sauce was wonderfully moreish and the greens gave the sandwich some added texture. The icing on the cake were the caramelised onions which blended with the seafood and the sauce, as well as being an ingredient I can't get enough of. I adored it.

The least stand-out of all the things I trialled was the bread and olive oil, which was felt like a generic Sainsbury’s baguette, cut and tarted up to defraud punters of £2.80. That was the only thing I tasted  at Barrafina which I felt was pedestrian.

To wash down our food, we had Estrellas, which complemented the savoury deliciousness a treat.

Overall, whilst the overall price is more than I'd usually pay for a meal out, I had a fantastic time at Barrafina, and consider the dining experience there worth the (somewhat) dear pricetag. My only gripe (and sadly, the thing that prevents it from being an A-grade restaurant in my view) is the canteen-style seating arrangement, where everyone is sat in high-top stools around the chefs whilst they cook.

Whilst I have no problem with watching the food being prepared, the stools were uncomfortable and there was very limited space. This meant you had to either sit on your coat or put it on the floor, and if you ordered several dishes – as we did – placing it on the limited table size was a challenge. I always feel guilty if I feel I'm impeding on other people's personal space, and that did play on my mind during an otherwise top-notch dining experience.

Grade: A-

For the rest of my food and drink in London experiences, click here.

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