Cosy, diner-styled tapas in Soho
Category : Restaurant
| Cuisine : Spanish
Address : 26-27 Dean St, Soho, Soho, W1D 3LL, UNITED KINGDOM - Directions
Web : http://www.barrafina.co.uk/
Opening Times : Mon-Sat: 12pm-3pm, 5pm-11pm; Sun: 1pm-3.30pm, 5.30pm-10pm
Closest Tube : Leicester Square, Tottenham Court Road
Occasionally British weather necessitates a blast of warmth from the Mediterranean, and Barrafina is one of London‘s best restaurants for a dose of Iberian heat. When Barrafina opened its doors on Dean Street it quickly became one of the most sought-after seats in town, garnering extensive queues and adoring reviews in equal measure. In 2014, head chef Nieves Barragan Mohacho won a Michelin star for her vigorous, rigorous work in the kitchens, which was the same year that the Hart Brothers opened a sister restaurant on Adelaide Street, followed by another on Drury Lane. Nearly a decade after originally opening, Barrafina has upped sticks from its first location and moved across the street to the ground floor of Quo Vadis, where the formula has been ever-so-slightly retooled, and in every way for the better.
We arrived ten minutes before opening (11.50am) to avoid the queue and there was already a smattering of people waiting for the doors to open. Cognisant of this fact, the Hart Bros have laid out a very salubrious seating area with comfortable booths and heat lamps to keep prospective diners warm. Inside, they‘ve oriented the bar so that the longer side faces the windows, letting in more of Dean Street‘s light and levity. The room quickly fills, circumscribed by anticipatory diners drinking sherry, wine or Estrella Galicia beer and nibbling on selections from the Para Picar section of the menu.
We had pride of place just in front of Nieves Barragan Mohacho, who is a force of nature, moving at lightspeed but smiling as she explains a dish or asks how it is. After a couple of Hart Bros exclusive Manzanilla Sherries we started to wend our way through the menu, making quick work of pan con tomate and crisp/creamy ham croquetas. From there it was a full-out sprint through many of Barrafina‘s staples and specials.
A visit to the restaurant wouldn‘t be complete without at least one of their pint-sized tortillas, obsessed over in the pan and perfectly presented. Ours happened to be filled with ham and spinach, it‘s hearty omelette exterior revealing a molten cave in the centre. We ordered artichokes from the specials board. Their stalks were fried to a buttery chewiness whilst the hearts and the rosette of leaves was as crisp and satisfying as Roman Carciofi alla Judea.
Mains came in the form of fish. We complemented this with a couple glasses of full-bodied Albariño - which was similarly exclusive to the Hart Brothers empire. First up was red mullet fried tempura style. The batter was light and gracile, and the entire fish was rendered edible, the bones and skin being a highlight. This, however, was upstaged by an entire John Dory, seared on the plancha and dressed with finely chopped parsley, garlic and lemon - flirting with piscine perfection. We crowned the meal with an excellent, very simple chocolate tart…
Barrafina is poised to remain a classic for, well, forever, breathing a Tramontane breeze into the heart of Soho. And its new digs are a nice step up, to boot.