I usually try to avoid no-reservation restaurants as patience is not my greatest quality and I don’t particularly enjoy watching other people eat while I’m desperately waiting for a table.
However, that said, I bravely went to Barrafina, a modern Spanish tapas bar in Soho, hoping to beat the rush by coming early (17h45!).
I was wrong! Even at that hour, the staff told me I would have to wait for an hour. The place is tiny, and as there are no tables, customers are seated on bar stools propping up a bar, which is actually the kitchen so you can sit and watch the food being cooked in front of you!
As I had arrived highly motivated and totally determined, I joined the queue, waiting for my friends to arrive.
I ordered a bottle of wine, and after some explanation about the different Spanish wines and sherry cocktails on the list, I was convinced to pick a slightly more expensive bottle than my original choice, which was eventually a very good decision! For wine fans, it was a bottle of Catalan Eagle 2014 La Bascula at £28 - £6 more than my original choice and well worth the extra. ,
Service was flawless from start to finish, and despite being in the queue, the waiter was still very attentive to the costumers in the line and served wine to my partner as soon as she arrived.
Amusingly, their attention to details was so great that they actually sat on each stool when laying the plates and cutlery, making sure everything was properly set up.
Once seated we wanted to order as quickly as possible so we could finally get what we came for. What we did not realise was while waiting we crossed the Spanish border and thus rushing was no longer appropriate. This is the land of mañana moved to Soho.
The chefs were friendly and showed a very relaxed attitude, despite being so busy and efficient, which was the best way to make us feel relaxed and happy in return.
Seating at the bar means you can see the ingredients (look out for the seafood and fish of the day!) and watch the food being prepared. The menu is full of tapas meat and seafood dishes and one of the chefs run through the daily specials.
We started off with some simple classic Spanish tapas: pardon peppers, jamon and salami accompanied by bread and an amazing olive oil (not something we usually notice in restaurants unfortunately). We then continued with more classic dishes with a tortilla, and chips served with Brava sauce, both excellent. We then enjoyed some very nice gambas with garlic and my favourite dish of the night, the pluma iberica: a tender peace of pork cooked to perfection and served with a sherry jus, and fondant potatoes.
All the dishes were authentic, prepared simply with fresh ingredients, and full of flavour. We unfortunately sampled too many dishes and had no room for dessert this time but this is my perfect excuse to go back there and try their Crema Catalan!
Price wise, most dishes are £6 to £9 with bread at £2 and the ham the most expensive at £18.80. So expect to spend around £30 a head – but that all depends on the wine and how much you drink.
VERDICT: Good things come to those who wait!
54 Frith St, Soho
London W1D 4SL
Mon – Sat: 12-3pm; 5-11pm
Sunday: 1-3:30pm; 5:30-10pm
Nearest stations Leicester Square/Tottenham Court Road