Barrafina Drury Lane

Restaurants, Spanish Covent Garden
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(4user reviews)
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 (© Scott Chasserot)
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The third restaurant from the excellent Spanish tapas specialists, and it is a winner in every way.

However you feel about the now-ubiquitous trend for no bookings, you’ve got to admit that few places pull it off as well as Barrafina. The original Frith Street tapas bar pioneered the concept when it opened in 2007, and it has been so successful that the owners, Sam and Eddie Hart (whose blue-chip portfolio also includes Quo Vadis in Soho),  have managed to open two more branches within walking distance. Far from taking business away from one another, demand has only increased.

This latest outpost is located on a plum corner site with beautiful arched windows, sand-coloured brickwork and more space to accommodate the (decidedly civilised) queue. While the layout is familiar – an L-shaped marble bar overlooking the open kitchen – Barrafina #3 is no retread. Almost everything on the menu is new – and executive head chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho (exuding practised cool during our visit on the second night open) has gone to town with it. Cuttlefish empanada had rich, flaky pastry and a butter-soft, ink-soaked filling; thick slices of incredibly tender pork belly came topped with toffee-like crackling and mojo verde (a coriander salsa from the Canary Islands); the crab bun, its rich, creamy filling oozing onto the plate, nods to London’s current penchants for street food and general excess.

We kept watching delicious-looking dishes being prepared under our noses, including a special of stonking great salt-baked prawns so big they could have eaten us for dinner. A big juicy slab of calves’ liver looked like a steak. But our last dish – tender roast lamb, served on the bone with crisp, rosemary-scented skin – quashed any intention to order more.

Don’t just go for the food. Go for the precision-drilled staff, wholly focused on ensuring that your time at the bar feels worth any wait. Go for the class-A wine list, which makes mixing and matching by the glass a no-brainer. Go for the buoyant atmosphere – at once thrillingly foreign and thoroughly welcoming. Just go: Barrafina #3 may be on Drury Lane, but it’s too good to leave to the tourists. Nicola Arencibia

By: Nicola Arencibia

Posted:

Venue name: Barrafina Drury Lane
Contact:
Address: 43 Drury Lane
London
WC2B 5RT
Opening hours: Mon-Sat noon-3pm, 5-11pm; Sun 1-3.30pm & 5.30-10pm
Transport: Tube: Covent Garden
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £85.
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Average User Rating

4 / 5

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Aude
tastemaker

Barrafina is certainly one of the Best tapas places I have eaten at, and definitely the most expensive one!


The food is delicate and delicious, especially the scallop ceviche which is my “must have” dish now!


Be prepared to queue, especially in winter when the outside will be closed.


The default of the place is probably that it’s not adapted for groups; you will mostly be seated around the bar, so it is better to come only with your other half.


If you are taking some wine expect a bill around £40/45 per head which is still ok for London but sounds crazy after a trip in Spain!

Caroline M

Seriously good. Went for an early lunch and didn't have to queue, but I'd say it's worth a wait. Fresh, delicious, unfussy tapas of a very high standard. Favourites were melt-on-the plate classic tortilla and stuffed pig's trotters.

Cheeky Bellini
Tastemaker

A visit to this new addition to the group is just as much as wonderful experience is its Soho sister. The location looks more elegant and less busy on Drury Lane, you will recognise the restaurant straight away from its brightly lit windows and marbled interior. The wait was still around an hour on Wednesday evening with queue inside. Time goes quickly when you are chatting and sharing snacks with a fine Rioja reserva. Being at Barrafina is not just about the food, watching the team orchestrate and prepare the dishes is a joy. Here you will see everything chopped and sliced to perfection. Each member of staff concentrating on their workstations. From here, you can see which dishes are most popular on the day. The crab bun was the most ordered item. Arroz Negro was just scrumptious. Grilled sardine on torched cheese toast was delicious with its unusual flavour combination. The food puts on a smile on one's face once you have tried it. It is every tempting to over order after waiting in the queue and seeing all the food prepared in front of you. While this place is more expensive than the average tapas and not like dropping by the local tapas experience in Spain, it is great for an occasional treat when you have the patience to wait knowing all the food is prepared to perfection.

Katie F
Tastemaker

The newest Barrafina of the three, Drury Lane does not let the side down. Although it's slightly bigger than its original Soho sister, that doesn't mean the queue is any shorter. Luckily however, I have a wonderful father who was rather eager and got in the queue at 6pm. When I arrived there was a glass of wine waiting and the staff were very accomodating with the fact that we wanted to wait a while and just have a drink until we were hungry. Two hours and a bottle of Verdejo later, we took our seats at the bar and had a very tasty selection of padron peppers, patatas bravas, delicious solomillo de ternera (steak for those who also have very patchy Spanish!), a prawn and carabineiro special and our waitress-recommended absolute favourite, the crab bun. A serious must order dish. The service was excellent (helped probably by the presence of Eddie Hart, one of the owners, who was extremely attentive to everyone's welfare and mucked in with the service), the atmosphere was lovely and relaxed and the food was tasty and satisfying. Portions are restrained and it is pricey but for the whole package it's totally worth it.