The aim of the day was to squeeze as much as I could from £300 with my 3 siblings in tow. Barrafina Frith St, along with Bao Fitzrovia were obvious choices as from my experience, they offered a lot of bang for your buck. A Tombo’s matcha sundae was thrown in for good measure too. **Disclaimer**. By the time you read this, Barrafina Frith St (the first Barrafina) would have moved to a new, bigger premises in Soho by Quo Vadis (which I love too), on Dean Street. Barrafina of Frith St opened in January 2007, is owned by brothers Sam & Eddie Hart. The restaurant 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 keen.
The Head Chef gave off a stern demeanour that beckoned his minions to do what he wanted. He was clearly 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 were Plump and taste like how they should – brilliant. 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 the garlic rubbed sour dough was 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, then it’s 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 slaps you around the chops which forced us to hunker down and inhale. They were gone in 60 seconds.
Our carabinero’s at £16.80 a pop were not cheap, but they are a grown-up prawn which commands so much more respect. They’re left to loiter on the plancha until their singed on the outside and cooked in the middle. Then they’re 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 on each side was all they needed.
Sucking head is acceptable here.
I could eat them by the dozen.
Octopus with capers £9.80 are an essential order. If you don’t you will miss out on one of the best octopus dishes’ in London.
The classic tortilla £7 is a marvellous piece of cooking. Oozing egg mingles with thinly sliced potato and confectionary sweet confit onion, it’s all there to ogle at when you cut into the bronzed omelette.
Jamón and spinach tortilla £8. I’m in my element when I’m eating these, and so you should be 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. It’s lush.
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. The weakest link was this dish. I’d expected soft cuttlefish with a crisp overcoat – instead what we got an eggy batter with rubbery cuttlefish. All it needed was a couple of minutes less heat and more crunch to make it a compelling special.
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. It didn’t disappoint.
The bad: It’s shame the queen scallop a la mama and carabineros were not heated all the way through. I think they gave 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.. I’m no stranger and have eaten here before.
This is the upstairs, we ate downstairs this time.
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, well at least 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. To make them even better, they’re then dressed in aged soy and sweet mirin.
Duck hearts with chilli and garlic £5.50. Offally good morsels that were enjoyed by all of us.
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, but this isn’t far behind.
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