BARRAFINA, SOHO: My first official Michelin starred restaurant! Woohoo – this is one of the most hyped places in London, well known for its amazingly authentic Spanish tapas and the line up that starts before it opens. With several branches all over Central London, Barrafina fell, unfortunately, just short of my expectations, which were probably exceedingly high. We just missed out sitting inside around the tapas bar where you can watch them make the dishes, so we were outside, luckily with heaters warming us up from above the seats. I definitely enjoyed the perfect textures of everything we tried, but the portion sizes (especially for the mains) were a bit smaller than I anticipated, and none of the dishes really surprised me. With the flavours of Spain still fresh in my mind, having travelled there just 2 months ago, I was actually very excited to relive the burst of flavours, the tender seafood and spectacular variety of tapas that Spain left imprinted in my tastebuds.
Octopus with Capers – GBP 12.5
The good fat: The texture of the octopus was so perfect – it was very tender and fresh, but maintained just the perfect level of springiness that defines octopus. The dressing had a slight lemon, acidic hint to it, a classic combo found in Spanish octopus. It was supplemented well by the sourness of the capers.
The bad fat: Presentation was a little bit messy and I think that the dressing started soaking into the cooking board instead of staying on the octopus.
Pluma Iberica with Confit Potatoes – GBP 15.5
The good fat: I loved how amazing the Iberican pork fell apart – the texture was just sensational, with soft portions of meat separating softly in my mouth. The confit potatoes were soft, buttery and creamy, forming a delicious bed for the pork to rest on. The flavours were subtle in this, with hints of garlic and butteryness just coming through, allowing the roasted aroma of the pork to stand out.
The bad fat: I wasn’t a huge fan of the capsicum on top as it didn’t really add much extra flavour for it.
Turbot and Ajada – GBP 17.8
The good fat: The fish was cooked very tenderly, and retained a great deal of moisture. The skin on top was crispy for that added complexity of texture with a little bit of a charred taste adding to the mellowness of the flesh below.
The bad fat: This was classed as a main but in reality, the portion of the fish was very small and probably finished in about 3 – 4 mouthfuls. There really wasn’t anything special to it, as it reminded me of a simple steamed fish that mum makes at home.
Callos a la Madrilena – GBP 8.0
The good fat: Callos is a very common Spanish stew, which incorporates beef tripe, blood pudding sausage, chickpeas and bell peppers. The tapas was very warm and hearty, with mouth full of flavour. The tripe melted in my mouth, and the chickpeas were the perfect level of softness. The blood pudding sausage was a little lost in the flavour of the stew but I loved how you could still distinguish everything based on their various textures.
The bad fat: As I mentioned before, the intrinsic flavours of the solid meat was slightly lost under the spicy flavours of the stew.
Kokotxas in Pil Pil Sauce – GBP 11.0
The good fat: Once again, a very warm tapas with gorgeously tender and smooth pieces of cod (kokotxas). The sauce was quite buttery and creamy, a perfect blend to let the fish hold its own but also permeate through the whole pieces so that the centres were still very flavoursome. It was very interesting because the sauce itself was extremely salty, but once you had it with the fish, all that saltiness just disappeared and it actually tasted quite subtle.
The bad fat: I would’ve liked a bit more chilli or lime type of different flavour just for an added level.
SHOULD YOU GET FAT HERE?
YES – It is definitely a little slice of Spain in London, with great care taken into preparing each dish but I wasn’t surprised by anything 😦