Tapas @ Barrafina

I can’t believe it’s already June! This season, I’m looking forward to a trip to Rome (fingers crossed), music festivals, food festivals and pick-your-own fruit farms. And being able to sprawl out in the back garden, and finally do some barbecuing!

Last weekend the man and I made a weekend trip down to London to visit our friend who wasn’t feeling too well. I seem to be stuck in a food rut every time we go and always seem to end up in Misato. It’s cheap and cheerful and just off Leicester Square. It works when we’re down for a day trip, but this time it was a weekend stay and we wanted to try somewhere new.

Barrafina tapas bar in Soho has been much talked about in the blogosphere and has received good reviews here and here. Being the out-of-townies that we were, we arrived there a good half hour before opening time, not realising they opened later on weekends. So we strolled a little and chilled in a Spanish cafe. The boyfriend ordered a cafe bombon – shot of espresso with condensed milk. Utterly delicious! My hot chocolate paled in comparison. It was really nice just relaxing, chatting and watching the world go by in front of us. It felt like our little corner of quiet compared to the hustle and bustle of the city.

OK, after the gaffe earlier we didn’t want to seem overly keen, so we arrived there 10 minutes after opening time, and lo and behold! The place was already half full. Barrafina operates like a lot of tapas bars in Spain. A no-reservation policy and sitting and eating directly at the bar itself. That suited us just fine, we parked ourselves in prime position just opposite the cooking station and right in front of the very fine Jabugo ham. Yeah, I was too chicken to whip out my phone to take some shots, so the photos below have been credited to their original owners.

Photo courtesy of  su-lin

The place has only 27 stools dotted around the bar. A huge pile of fresh seafood on ice entices you, and our server shouted out the day’s specials to us from behind the bar, pointing to each in turn.

Photo courtesy of  Boo in London

Marinated olives – various black and green olives marinated with olive oil scented with orange. Lovely salty flavour with a citrusy tang. Loved these, as they weren’t too sour as some store bought olives are wont to be.

Photo courtesy of david in italy

Octopus with capers – octopus sliced thin and boiled to such a soft texture. Topped with olive oil, dusting of mild paprika and capers.

Photo courtesy of bellaphon

Giant razor clams – simply cooked on top of the hot pan and topped with oil, parsley and garlic. So fresh and briny! The great thing about sitting right in front of the cooking station is  you know just when your order is being cooked. The bad thing about sitting there is that you keep looking at the plate on the bar just beyond your reach, salivating away before they call your table order!

Photo courtesy of plum project

Baby gem salad – served with whole anchovies and fried pancetta, and drizzled with a shallot vinaigrette. This was so-so, I expected the gem salad to be seared a little on the grill to get some caramelization effect but it was served raw.

Photo courtesy of su-lin

Morcilla Iberica – Spanish blood sausage (like black pudding, but spicier) served with sweet roasted piquillo peppers and yummy gooey quail’s eggs. Really good.

Photo courtesy of bellaphon

Tuna tartar – best of the day! Raw tuna cubed and flavoured with sesame oil, soy sauce and sesame seeds served with unctuous, smooth avocado puree. So. Good. The boyfriend demanded this dish be in my repertoire from now on. I shall aim to please.

Photo courtesy of su-lin

Crema Catalana – very soft custard (almost liquidy but not quite) topped with that perfect shell of caramelised sugar.

And that was the end of our meal. Every dish but one was to our liking, and we kept ooh-ing and aah-ing at the flavours and textures in succession. Service is great, our glasses were continually topped up with our drinks whenever they looked in danger of getting empty. The waitresses were knowledgeable and were happy to explain any dishes which we weren’t sure about. I just loved watching the goings on of the kitchen right in front of us! The bill doesn’t come cheap especially considering it was lunch, but it does very well for a treat every so often. Looking forward to coming back and trying out the other dishes on the menu!

Then we popped over to Liberty’s and I treated myself to a necklace. Just ’cause I could.

Heh.

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