January 22nd, 2015

On Tuesday Sue invited me to lunch at Barrafina (Adelaide Street) and having read a glowing review by Fay Maschler, I didn’t need to be asked twice. Just a glance at the menu prompted a comment of, “I’d like to eat it all!”

barrafina interior

barrafina interior

Barrafina owners, Sam and Eddie Hart, say that the excellent Cal Pep in Barcelona was the inspiration for their restaurant. One sits behind a long bar and an army of cheerful chefs take your orders from a tapas menu which doubles as a place mat. Most of the food is prepared in front of you and a specials menu is handed round on a small blackboard. Barafina doesn’t take reservations, so it’s first come first seated. On a cold Tuesday in January we were lucky and had no trouble finding a place.



I was really looking forward to trying the ortiguillas de mar (sea anemones), very popular in Andalucia battered, or dredged in flour then deep fried. I’ve seen them occasionally in the Boqueria fresh and I know that top Catalan chef Albert Marimon sometimes cooks them with fried eggs, but I’ve never eaten one before. We were served about six of them in a little brown paper cone (like chips) with a wedge of lime and a pinch of course sea salt. They were wonderfully crunchy on the outside and had a softer middle, tasting of the sea, a bit like a fried oyster. I thought they were absolutely delicious – nothing icky or unpleasant here – I could eat lots of them!

croquetas de cangrejo

croquetas de cangrejo

Our second choice was croquetas de cangrejo (crab croquettes).



I adore good croquettes and these were to die for, as you can see from the detail above – beautifully crisp on the outside and soft in the middle.

alcachofas con allioli

alcachofas con allioli

We spotted the alcachofas con allioli (deep fried artichokes with allioli) being prepared and had to try them. They come with a little dish of home made allioli, sprinkled with pimentón. Even the allioli (an emulsion of olive oil and garlic) was of superior quality – I could have spooned it onto bread and eaten it as a standalone course!

tortilla de gambas, ajetes y setas

tortilla de gambas, ajetes y setas

We watched the chefs cooking mini tortillas, about 5 or 6 inches in diameter and ordered a tortilla de gambas, ajetes y setas (tortilla with prawns, mushrooms and garlic stalks).



The tortilla had a beautiful soft, runny middle, with a texture like melted cheese.



We had a plate of tiny, deep fried chipirones (baby squid) – crunchy on the outside and delicate in the middle. I had to order more allioli to go with these.



Sue had a craving for vegetables and ordered a salad of fennel, pear and radishes. I’m not a fan of fruit in salad, but was very happy to eat the fennel with radishes.

helado de turrón

helado de turrón

For pudding Sue had helado de turrón (turrón ice cream)

sorbete de limón

sorbete de limón

and I had a wonderfully tart and tangy sorbete de limón (lemon sorbet).



To wash down our lunch we drank Hart Brothers Special Selection Manzanilla Passada en Rama – a complex, nutty sherry, bottled unfiltered (en rama), raw, to preserve the original flavour. A lot of the natural flavours are lost through excessive filtering to create traditional, paler, clean looking sherries.

Executive Head Chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho is cooking food at Barrafino worthy of the very best restaurants in San Sebastian and Barcelona. Lunch/supper for two with wine or sherry will cost £60 plus, but it’s worth every penny.

Barrafina is at: 10 Adelaide Street, Covent Garden, WC2N 4SL

Square Meal

About Mad Dog
This entry was posted in Barcelona, Drink, Eating Out, Fish, Food, Restaurants, Spanish and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

31 Responses to Barrafina

  1. Ruth says:

    I can definitely see why you would want to “eat it all”! Love the culinary tour. It looks just perfect.

  2. That all looks utterly delicious and very authentic, especially the ortiguillas. And not overdone or fancy-pants, if you know what mean. Lucky Londoners 😉

  3. azahar says:

    Sounds like home! 🙂

  4. Oh wow – you are so right that Big Man would enjoy this! Very authentic, even the seating arrangements and they serve his favourite turron ice cream 😉

    • Mad Dog says:

      Hi Tanya – it was a fab lunch, a bit expensive in comparison to Spain, but they do use the best ingredients and the staff were very friendly and attentive. I’m sure you’d both love it 🙂

  5. Michelle says:

    Oh, how I wish I could go there for lunch today!

  6. You eat in such fabulous places Mad.

  7. Amanda says:

    OH, MD you’re killing me. This is seriously how I love to eat. Sea anemones? Fried artichokes? And that tortilla….So good. You’re making me miss Spain, which is why I”m going to book my trip ASAP. Helado de turron…so jealous. What a lunch!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Amanda, I’m sure you would have loved it. I’ve been waiting to try sea anemones for a couple of years and I wasn’t disappointed 🙂

  8. Bueno! Qué selección tan estupenda MD!! Se ha hecho la boca agua… 😉

  9. cecilia says:

    Crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle is a winner every time don’t you think?

  10. Karen says:

    Each and every dish that you tried sounds like more. 😀

  11. garybuie01 says:

    Ooooh, the crab croquettes look divine! Well, it all does actually – I shall have to return! Thank you for visiting Garybuie today.

  12. expatchef says:

    Looks absolutely amazing and I am very surprised about the tortilla! In the USA they always over cook it, but I am sure it has to do with all the suing that goes on there!

    • Mad Dog says:

      Thanks Carla. It is a fabulous restaurant and most of the staff are Spanish – which makes a considerable difference. I know what you mean about dry tortilla – it probably does have a lot to do with law suits and I think a lot of people cook them in the oven, which IMHO changes the texture as well as making them set.

  13. Joséphine says:

    Un beau voyage culinaire !

  14. abdun navi says:

    nice post,…
    very education

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  16. Dana Pottratz says:

    I loooooove Barrafina (Drury Lane). Discovered it by chance as I passed by – the heady, garlicky aromas wafting out onto the street beckoned me like the Sirens of the Odyssey). And now every time I go back to London I have to eat there! The food is amazing as are the service and the atmosphere in general.

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