I’ve lost count how many places can you go to in Soho to share food, it almost seems to be a requisite feature of any new restaurant that they incorporate the shared plates ethos into their menu lest they be accused of being passé. I suppose the people we should be thanking for this new, much loved London craze are the Spanish. They’ve been doing it forever and are probably wondering why it’s taken us so long to catch up. There are now quite a few tapas joints in and around Soho, the Salt Yard group have a few and Iberica is meant to be pretty decent but the one we went for was one of the older ones (at least by Soho standards these days), Barrafina. They’ve a new one opening up near Opera Tavern and a more sit down place Fino not too far away.
It was a glorious October morning last week and after a lovely aimless walk in and around the heart of London we wandered upon Barrafina and on impulse decided this would be perfect for a spot of lunch. The place was bustling and we grabbed a couple of beers and waited patiently for a couple of places to become available. You feel like you’re experiencing the real thing in Barrafina, the cooks chat away in Spanish and there’s various hams, clams and croquettas on show. We grabbed a couple of seats and started ordering, this is what we had.
Ham platter – Good but wish I’d ordered the slightly more priced Jamon Iberico which the couple next to me ordered and looked delicious.
Croquettas – soft, gooey, delightful.
Razor Clams – Always one of my favourite things to order and didn’t let me down; big, juicy and delicious.
Prawns – Again another classic but just what it should be; lovely pieces of garlic and chilli with satisfyingly large gambas.
Courgette flower – I love these so much, light, crispy and filled with ricotta, one of my favourite’s of the afternoon.
Quail – While everything else was good but not necessarily mind blowing this wasn’t just good but AMAZING. So succulent, juicy, tender, tasty, I could happily go on and on. It was accompanied by some lovely aioli (although it hardly needed it) and some rather good fries bravas which had a lovely hint of thyme this was the stand out dish. A must have.
So that was our Saturday lunch, although I am getting a little tired of the whole sharing plates malarkey, I don’t really count tapas in that category. When you’re in the mood for a casual hour or two at a bar with some lovely wine and great food there really isn’t anywhere better. Jose’s food might be slightly better but the lack of crowds at Barrafina mean it’s a slightly more relaxed option.