Like many good restaurants in London, Barrafina doesn’t take bookings and requires you to wait in a very long line for your table. Unlike many other restaurants, nobody seems to mind!
One of the perks of waiting around in a tapas bar (albeit a very upmarket one) is that they know you want a little pintxo while you wait. You can order a glass (or a bottle) of wine, and whet your appetite with some ham croquetas (£4.50), pan con tomate (£2.80), or my personal favourite, a bowl of pimientos de Padron (£5).
Once you join the rest of the diners around the bar, though, the magic really starts. I wanted to try absolutely everything on the menu but in the end, we settled on the octopus with capers (£9.80), chips with brava sauce (£4), milk fed lamb (£12.80) and a couple of the nightly specials. Four to five plates (after three pintxos while waiting for our seats) was just the right amount for two and my only regret was that I couldn’t fit in any more! Everything we tried was perfectly seasoned, cooked and presented.
The service here was amazing! Our waiter told us honestly that we had ordered enough food, which we greatly appreciated. He also put in some extra effort to ensure that complementary dishes were delivered to us at the same time.
This is a great spot for a date or a fun catch-up with a friend. I wouldn’t attempt a group larger than three (preferably two) to decrease your waiting time for a seat at the bar. While you’ll probably still need to wait and the prices seem a little steep for tapas, Barrafina is most definitely worth it!
The good: The atmosphere is incredible – there’s a real buzz in this cozy venue.
The bad: If you don’t like thinking about where your food comes from, you may find the fresh seafood on display (and the inventory at the end of the night) a bit much.
The insider tip: If you want to minimise waiting time (which could be up to 1.5-2 hours), arrive before 7pm or just after 10pm. Any later and you risk not being seated at all!