Many friends were outraged when I – a food blogger no less! – admitted to not having been to Barrafina. A Spanish tapas bar that, for some reason, seems to get people passionate, to demand some sort of loyalty. And so I, unsure at first, then a lot more willingly (having read the menu), found myself going with a group of girlfriends.
It all started badly. I ended up at the ‘original’ tapas bar at Frith Street, only to find out that the organiser of the evening (and Barrafina-obsessive) was waiting for the rest of us at the new Covent Garden one, on Adelaide Street (which opened at the beginning of the year). And that we’d lost our space at the bar which she’d waited an hour for.
But things went up hill from here, because, having wrangled some seats at the bar, the food arrived. And instantly you know why it is such a raved about place. The tapas menu, for one, isn’t your standard oily chorizo and soggy patatas bravas which has often (and unfairly) put me off Spanish food altogether. It’s diverse, at times unusual (bordering on ‘pretty out there’ – i.e. the brain/tongue/kidney options) and always interesting. Make sure you ask for their specials, because in this place they live up to their name.
Their stuffed zucchini flower is a must, their Chicken wings in Mojo Picon finger-lickingly good. And we argued over who got the last of the Iberian Pork Ribs.
While I cursed the bar for not suiting our seating arrangements (sitting four in a row does not lend itself to good group conversation), I so adore an open kitchen. And here you really get to see the chefs in action. And observe how on earth they make food taste so good, while doing it so quickly. I loved watching how they presented the food so artfully, even if it meant serious food envy as mouth-watering plates I failed to order were served to neighbours.
So I join the gang of loyalists (though my blog on Morito – a rival tapas bar – will be up soon). Because the tapas here is really good. And even if you can’t book, it is most definitely worth queueing up for. But just come with one date, not three. It just makes life (and conversation) easier.
Oh and I nearly forgot to mention the donuts. Do not leave without trying the donuts dipped in chocolate sauce.
10 Adelaide Street
Photos by Paul Winch-Furness. And the Instagram one mine.