Let us give thanks to Spain, which has gifted the world Pablo Picasso, Don Quixote, The Alliance of Civilisations and – most importantly – Barrafina.
At least, in a roundabout way. Because Barrafina – which now runs not one but several of London’s best Spanish restaurants – actually comes from two English brothers, Sam and Eddie Hart, who were inspired to launch their first one by the famous Cal Pep tapas restaurant in Barcelona. And considering Barrafina’s current significance in the London restaurant scene, it seems eminently possible that someone, one day, many years from now, may ask you what it was like to dine there…
And so we’ve prepared a sample response for you:
“Imagine walking into a scleral-white, cosy eatery packed with stainless steel, marble and mirrors, and sitting down at an open kitchen bar where arguably London’s most prestigious Spanish tapas chefs are plating up a colourful mixture of both contemporary and traditional Mallorcan and Catalan tapas dishes. You peruse the menu, while watching those same chefs gracefully slicing wafer-thin, rose-pink cured meats from whole legs hanging on proud display above the bed of iced, fresh seafood behind the bar. And sometimes you’ll chat to them while they work, and they’ll recommend you the perfect red, white or sherry pairings to accompany the (Michelin-starred) dishes they’re plating up for you”.
Or alternatively you could go and see for yourself…
…and if you’d like to do that there are now FIVE branches of Barrafina in London, each of which serve that legendary tapas menu, bolstered by a few characteristic specials (with all of them accepting online reservations except for Dean Street).
Here’s what you can expect in each one –
BARRAFINA DEAN STREET | Soho
When the landlords of the original Barrafina on Frith Street decided to redevelop the building instead of continuing to host, you know, the most popular restaurant in London, Barrafina’s flagship set sail for Dean Street instead, where it’s made a new home in the ground floor of Quo Vadis (bringing two of our favourite Soho restaurants together under one roof). Sporting the characteristic marble dining counter, bustling open kitchen and somewhat Bavarian-looking beer pumps, it’s settled in nicely. It’s the only Barrafina that remains a no-bookings restaurant; perfect for when you happen to be passing and get a sudden craving for a little Galician almond cake.
Details: 26-27 Dean Street, W1D 3LL
BARRAFINA ADELAIDE STREET | Covent Garden
Happily a little more spacious than its sibling, Barrafina Adelaide Street is flooded with light – and has a dedicated space for drinks while you’re waiting for your spot at the counter. There are subtle differences in the menu between each branch, so head here for a wider selection of seafood, or if you have a particular penchant for cuttlefish croquetas; crispy pig’s ears; and milk-fed lamb’s brain.
Details: 10 Adelaide Street, WC2N 4HZ
BARRAFINA DRURY LANE | Covent Garden
When Barrafina Drury Lane first opened it took about five minutes to make our list of best restaurants in Holborn (the internet was slow…). It’s probably the cosiest in the group where those trademark glossy counters and floors are surrounded by exposed brick walls, warm pendant lighting, and quirky arched windows. Specials here include Butifarra sausage with wild mushrooms; fried duck egg with chargrilled kidneys and potatoes; and fideuà, a kind of Valencian paella made with noodles instead of rice.
Details: 43 Drury Lane, WC2B 5AJ
Set in the slick Coal Drops Yard, Barrafina King’s Cross is their largest restaurant, with a beautiful private dining room overlooking the canal. The menu here has a strong Catalunyan accent, with dishes like black rice with Iberian pork ribs and artichokes, and banana ice cream from the Canary Islands…
Details: Coal Drops Yard, N1C 4AB
Barrafina Borough Yards is the youngest sibling to be added to the Barrafina family. It’s linked to two other Hart Bros joints (Parrillan Borough Yards and Bar Daskal) through a network of refurbished railway arches within the Borough Yards development. Chef Director Angel Zapata Martin has drawn his inspiration from Balearic, Catalan and Mediterranean-Spanish cuisines for the menu here, which features Mallorcan dirty rice and fried Catalan doughnuts.
Details: 2 Dirty Lane, London, SE1 9PA
NOTE: You can make online reservations to go to any of the Barrafina restaurants, except for Barrafina Dean Street. They also take bookings for groups of 8 and above in their private dining rooms at the Adelaide Street, Drury Lane and King’s Cross restaurants. You can find out more on the Barrafina website.
Love tapas? Check out the best Spanish restaurants in London
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