The menu at Barrafina.
The menu at Barrafina is divided into various sections, including frituras (fried dishes), cold meats, vegetables, chargrilled dishes and seafood. There are also daily specials. The menu is based on quality ingredients that are prepared expertly but also with simplicity. You can order a couple of dishes here and there as you go along, and they arrive one by one as they are prepared. It's always a good idea to keep an eye on what others are ordering and following suit if the dish looks good!
|Fresh produce and the daily specials boards|
One thing I always have to have when I go for tapas is the Pimientos de Padron. I'm sure some people probably think they're boring (they are just shallow fried green peppers, sprinkled with sea salt), but they're the quintessential tapas dish in my mind so I usually go for them. Plus the mild thrill of wondering whether you'll get one of the hot, fiery ones turns eating them into a kind of edible game of Russian roulette. I got a couple of hot ones this time so I guess I got lucky/unlucky.
|Pimientos de Padron|
Another one of my favourite tapas is Stuffed Courgette Flowers. Eating fried courgette flowers is something I was first introduced to during my childhood summer holidays in Umbria, and now whenever I see it on the menu my heart leaps! This one still had the baby courgette attached (so cute!), whilst the flower itself was stuffed with goat's cheese and drizzled with honey. I just love the contrast of the savoury cheese and sweet honey, and the delightfully light crispiness of the flower itself.
|Stuffed courgette flowers|
Sometimes a small plate just isn't enough. This was the case with the delicious Arroz de Marisco. The rice was cooked in an intensely rich fish stock, had a beautifully creamy texture, like a loose risotto, and was topped with grilled squid and prawns. It was so damn good that we had to order another.
|Arroz de marisco|
There are some slightly unusual dishes on the menu at Barrafina... such as Milk Fed Lamb's Brain and Ortiguillas (a type of sea anemone). I wasn't brave enough to try either of these, but the Suckling Pig's Ears were safely within my comfort zone. These were deliciously savoury, with a crisp exterior and a nice bit of chew in the middle. They were topped with some deep-fried sage leaves and a mayonnaise dip on the side.
|Suckling Pig's Ears|
Other dishes we tried included a whole cooked mackerel, some incredibly tender suckling pig, and beautiful English asparagus on a sauce that I think is best described as a crunchy fresh tomato pesto, and topped with cheese shavings. Sadly I'm only human so I had to stop eating at some point, even though I didn't really want to! On the plus side, there are still plenty of dishes left to try next time I go back.
Having been to both the Frith Street restaurant and now the Adelaide Street, I can safely say that Barrafina produces the best tapas I've experienced outside Spain. Visiting Barrafina always makes me think back to my trip to San Sebastian many years ago when I first experienced real pintxos. I strongly recommend trying Barrafina - it's the kind of place you can enjoy sharing lots of different dishes with a small group, but you can also just pop in solo after work (but get there when doors open if you don't want to queue!) and enjoy a couple of plates all to yourself.
I have a trip to Barcelona planned for September, so this recent trip to Barrafina has made me even more excited about it! Barrafina was very much inspired by the Hart brothers' love of Cal Pep tapas bar in Barcelona. Please comment below if you have any tips (food or otherwise) for my trip!
Have you been to Barrafina? Or do you have another favourite tapas restaurant?