Barrafina, Adelaide Street

AdelaideStExterior

Credit: Barrafina

The Adelaide Street branch is the middle child of the Barrafina family, headed by restaurateur brothers Sam and Eddie Hart, who also brought us Fino (now closed) and Quo Vadis. Its location makes it ideal for pre- and post-theatre dining, unless you arrive 5 minutes after it opens for dinner and the estimated wait time is 1 hour. But since I’d been raving about the tuna tartare at the Soho sibling (link below), Chef Savla was willing to wait and see what the fuss was about.

Barrafina Adelaide Street Interior

Credit: Barrafina

Ambiance and décor

Being on the corner makes the restaurant seem spacious, and the cream counters floor tiles, white walls and strategically placed mirrors enhance this effect. Conversations were in full flow around us without being distractingly loud, creating a nice early evening buzz. We perched in an alcove opposite the counter, which gave us a good preview.

Service

Drinks and snacks were quickly offered by the chatty and friendly staff, who regularly updated us on the remaining wait time. Once we’d grabbed 2 coveted stools, we asked the chefs for their recommendations and some questions on the various ingredients, all of which were happily answered. Unfortunately, the tuna tartare is only available on the Frith Street menu, but this just means I’ll have to go back, which is no chore quite frankly.

 

Food and drink

Sharing a bottle of red (Los Trovadores, Grenache, Montsant, Karma de Drac, 2013) was a good way of passing the time, as was nibbling on crab croquetas. These were a lot tastier than the usual ham and cheese versions, and this is coming from someone who doesn’t really like crab. The coating also deserves a special mention for being thin and crisp; our palates therefore didn’t get clogged up with excess batter and we could fully appreciate the delicate crab flavour.

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The arroz de marisco (seafood risotto) went down a treat with both of us. Squid is so often overcooked, making it chewy and rubbery, but these generous pieces were unbelievably soft, then paired with juicy mussels nestled on gooey, tomato-y rice.

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The photo doesn’t do this bocadillo de calamar encebollado (calamari and onion sandwich) justice by half. When you bit into it, you got slight crunchiness from the warm toasted bun, juiciness from the squid then a hint of sweetness from the caramelised onions; a very satisfying combination. In contrast, the thin fries were a decent accompaniment, but I would’ve easily passed on these as I’m not a big fan, preferring normal fries or chips.

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We’d unintentionally saved the best for last with the Basque pork collar dish from the specials menu. Chef Savla once again used his powers of persuasion to get my approval and I’m so glad that he persevered. The meat was served on celeriac puree, together with grilled chicory, the smokiness of which delicately cut through the fattiness of the pork. The puree was so smooth that it was almost like a sauce, adding the final flourish.

Verdict

Having to queue for so long is frustrating, even with good company, but this becomes a distant memory once you have your first bite. The flavour profiles were well balanced, so each dish was impressive, unlike my last visit where there was only one standout. The restaurant may have been very busy and space limited, but the front of house staff never came across as flustered or annoyed. As seating is at the counter (unless you’re in the private dining room downstairs), it’s best to go as a pair; three is fine, but the second person is guaranteed to have a sore neck later from all the twisting and turning. Last word: try to get there early, otherwise wear comfortable shoes.

Links: Barrafina, Barrafina Adelaide Street, Barrafina Frith Street, Barrafina Frith Street review, Quo Vadis 

Budget: £45 pp (including 12.5% service).

6 Comments

  1. May 15, 2016 / 9:58 am

    I’m a massive fan of Spanish food but have never come across crab croquetas before – how different! That Basque pork collar dish looks delicious and I like the idea of sitting at the counter watching the chefs preparing food right infront of you 🙂 x

  2. May 15, 2016 / 1:16 pm

    The food is fantastic but waiting is a pain – we tend to go super early, last time only having to wait about 20 minutes which was perfect for a glass of wine, some nibbles and a catch up on our days!
    I think I need to visit Frith St for this famous tuna tartare… thanks for the heads up!

    • May 15, 2016 / 3:40 pm

      I know, and I’m not a fan of waiting around either, so we’ve started having dinner earlier so we can get in on the first sitting! 20 minutes isn’t too bad, and it gives you some time to decide what to order as well 😉
      No worries – that tuna tartare was a revelation, and the avocado mousse served alongside was equally memorable!

  3. mindyb69
    May 15, 2016 / 3:20 pm

    Nice blog and great pics ! Thanks for sharing

  4. September 15, 2016 / 12:27 pm

    How you manage to only order three dishes is beyond me. Every time I go, I want to get it all (and then some).

    But if you happen to go back, make sure the pork rib is part of your order; complex & rich, it truly is a thing of beauty (and the best dish I’ve had this year in London).

    And if you ever need a tapas-buddy, you know where to find me 😉

    Sandra | Cake + Whisky

    • admin
      September 18, 2016 / 7:06 am

      Thanks for the offer, Sandra, and I’ll bear that in mind! What we had was pretty filling, but we usually get way more than just 3 dishes!

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