In the grand scheme of things £300 to spend after 10 years loyal service without a sick day isn’t a lot to shout home about (trumpet blowing over), so the aim is to make use of every single penny of it. Barrafina Frith St seems like the obvious choice as well as Bao Fitzrovia – from Michelin Starred tapas to Taiwanese buns – why not? Oh and we did spot off for Tombo’s matcha sundae in between! I’ve been dining at Barrafina Frith for many years, ordering unapologetically countless plates of tapas until I can’t eat anymore every time I come here.
By the time you read this Barrafina Frith St (the first Barrafina) would have move to a new site in Soho within Quo Vadis (which I love too) of Dean Street after the landlord decided to redevelop the Frith Street location. Barrafina of Frith St, owned by Sam & Eddie Hart, opened in January 2007 and earned a well-deserved Michelin star under executive head chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho in 2014.
We arrived for circa 11.30am and the queue for the lunch service was already looking ridiculous!
The Head Chef gave off an air authoritarianism off the bat with a stern demenaour as his minions look on. He’s a guy in command!
The menu is painless to follow and their specials are presented on a mini black board.
Pimietos De Padrón £5.75. Plump and taste like how they should. We are off to a good start.
Pan con tomate £3.50 a piece. The tomatoes are some the sweetest I’ve ever tasted and that garlic rubbed crispy-warm bread is the perfect vehicle to absorb and to purvey more flavour. I always order these.
Queen scallop – ‘a la mama’ £6.30. The sweet scallop is diced and cooked in a rue with deep seafood qualities and fried with bread crumbs. It was wonderful, but my only complaint was that it was cold in the centre. What a shame.
Deep water mussels £7.80. Briny and plump like how they should be and cooked from what tastes like sherry and seasoned with chives. The umami is prevalent and so it our appetite to make them disappear and quickly as possible!
Our carabinero’s at £16.80 a pop they’re not cheap but they are a grown-up prawn which aren’t to be confused with their cousins as it would be like comparing your top shelf Bells whisky to your Macallan. They’re flung onto the plancha and dressed simply with lemon and salt to bring our their inherent sweetness. I have them every time they’re available. My only gripe is that they were a tad under-cooked this time. 30 seconds more would have done them a world of wonder.
Sucking head is acceptable here.
I could eat them by the dozen.
Octopus with capers £9.80 are a elemental thing to order. If you don’t you will miss out of the most buttery octopus in London.. Period!
The classic tortilla £7. It’s a marvellous piece of cooking perfection. Oozing egg with thinly sliced potato and onion encased in a caramelised exterior fresh from their individual frying pans. How can this not be good?
Jamón and spinach tortilla £8. I’m in my element when I’m eating these and so you should too. Some say they are over seasoned to me they are perfect.
Chorizo, potato and watercress £9. The smoky and intensely flavoured chorizo imparts its robustness onto those waxy little potatoes. My god it’s so good. Another go-to of mine.
Morcilla Ibérica with quail eggs £8.50. Even if you don’t like eating black pudding I think you will revel eating this as it’s utterly delectable. Everything here is rich in flavour.
Cuttlefish a la Romana £8.80. I would say this will a wee bit of an anti-climax to finish on. We’d all expected the batter to be crisp and the cuttlefish sweet – instead it was almost like a French-toast eggy batter with insipid rubbery cuttlefish. I’m glad it was on the specials only.
When did I go? July 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £50-£65 per head sans drinks
The good: It’s a personal institution for me and the food is sublime every time I dine here. This would be my last in the 23 seat memory laden right of passage until I visit the new Dean St venue.
The bad: It’s shame the queen scallop a la mama and carabineros were not heated all the way through. They may have caused the four of us to have dickie bellies later on in the day. One bad experience won’t stop me from coming back though. Oh and it’s no bookings.
Address: 26-27 Dean St, London, W1D 3LL (New location)
Closest tube: Tottenham Court Road
Onto our second lunch.. My first visit earlier on during the month of July can be seen here.
This is the upstairs, wine ate downstairs this time. Change is good.
Our view from downstairs.
Mapo aubergine £5. A vegetarian number to kick things off – we can cope with vegetables especially if they’re this good until the carnivorous plates arrive.
Cod black £5, you were just as good as the last time.
Raw languistines, dulse, aged soy, oyster leaf £4.75. Dulse is a seaweed and from what I can see it’s dehydrated and sprinkled onto those sweet like candy langoustines. The aged soy mixed with sweet mirin they’re dressed in acts as an intensifier of flavour.
Duck hearts with chilli and garlic £5.50. Offally good morsels that were enjoyed by all the siblings!
Confit – pork belly, crispy shallots, hot sauce. Pork belly wrapped around a sweet carb is a sure fire winning combination. My favourite is still the ‘Classic’ though.
Fried Chicken Chop, Hot Sauce £5.50. Do as I recommend and order this!
Sans egg as someone was allergic!
I’ll repeat what I wrote the last time: The Beef Cheek & Tendon Nuggets. The craggy-crisp exterior contains the darkest seasoned meat once-upon-a-time from the well used muscular jaws of the animal. It’s slow cooked until the gelatinous layers melt into the proteins. It’s wonderful work. I hope you agree when you eat them!
Crispy Prawn Heads £2 a la crisps from the ocean.
When did I go? July 2016
The damage: Expect to pay £30-£45 per head with drinks.
The good: The second time was as good as the first!
The bad: No bookings!
Address: 31 Windmill St, Fitzrovia W1T 2JN
Closest tube: Tottenham Court Road/Goodge St
Phone: 020 3011 1632