Bill’s night but Karl’s choice. We initially tried the oldest wine bar in London… Gordon’s, as the menu looked pretty tempting, but on arrival, and more certainly after one drink, we knew it wasn’t the place for us.
Bill’s back up was still on the Embankment, a cute, small, British diner called Villiers. One bottle of red later we were more than happy to stay, however Karl suggested, with Mits absence, that we try the much vaunted Barrafina as it only allows a max of four in one party…. sorry Mit!
No bookings…. rock up and wait your turn… fortunately only a Thursday our wait wasn’t too bad. 45 minutes from memory but it was a good wait! Standing, but Inside, getting stuck straight into the appetisers and cold meats, we had a selection of Pimientos de Padron, Marcona Almonds, Manzanilla Olives, Crab Croquetas, Toast & Alioli, Banderilla, not forgetting some bread and olive oil to start soaking up the alcohol! All of which were delicious and had us eagerly waiting our seats….
Or should I say stools. Barrafina is ‘counter diner’ serving Spanish tapas. Sitting on your stool, adjacent to your friends, you are set in the heart of the action with the chefs and kitchen immediately in front of you. Social talk is secondary here… the food and experience takes the leading role. That said it must be noted that all the chefs and managers were utterly witty, charming and charismatic…. a contrast to what I normally have to put up with!
Having basically a huge pick and mix to choose from, with some help from the experts the other side of the counter, we choose shed loads! Nearly one of everything and ate it as it came out and was ready. The order is as below… good luck Dave inserting the correct photos!
– Artichoke Alioli…. Good.
– Rabbit Shoulder. With black olive alioli….. Very very good
– Lamb Brain. A olive talernade with pine nut on top. The crispy lamb brain in the middle. Tomato salsa at the bottom. Irony & livery flavour. Apparently very nice but not for me.
– Stuffed Courgette Flower. With goats cheese. Amazing.
So far very good. Throw in some delicious Spanish wine, better than normal conversation and the thought of possibly eating at Gordon’s earlier, which was a fortunate distant memory now… all made for a great evening.
– Queen Scallop Ceviche. Very good.
– Squid & Frites.
– Pork Ribs. Very soft & fell off the bone.
– Fennel & Pear Salad. Lovely.
– Shoulder Of Iberico Pig. Very good
– Pigs Trotter. Surprisingly pretty good.
– Pork Tenderloin. Good
– Taps de Entrecôte Gallego. Too rare for me.
– Portobello mushroom carpaccio. Different yet tasty.
– Suckling pig. Spilt opinions but personally very nice.
– Lamb Kidneys on a grill.
– Chicken Wings.
So many different flavours and intriguing delicacies but we weren’t over full and it was a very enjoyable selection of good. Being four typical blokes we went heavy on the meats but it was the recommended ones, such as the Stuffed Courgette Flower which made the meal stand out.
To finish we asked for the Flan, Sorbet, and a Rhubarb fool…. again all excellent.
Counter dining is certainly a trendy concept picking up pace currently, especially with the help of such foodie establishments like Barrafina and Bubbledogs. It wouldn’t be my preference but it is nice to have and try now and then, especially when the service is so exceptional as the above two. Watching the kitchen in action adds to the theatre and experience….. Barrafina is definitely somewhere to try when you fancy something fast paced, tasty as hell and action packed! Not to mention if your fed up with having to look at and make conversation with your other half…..!