There are loads of copycats dotted around the city now, but Barrafina was the original high-quality tapas joint. Arriving on Frith Street in Soho back in 2007, it transformed Spanish food from drab and touristy to top-notch and exciting. New branches have opened since then (and the original has been relocated), but despite the changes it remains a reliable place to eat: always buzzing, with lovely food and just the right amount of waiting time for a table to make you feel like you’re in the right place.
This outpost is on the top floor of Coal Drops Yard in King’s Cross and, in a Barrafina first, it has a few tables for four inside and some decent space for outdoor dining (every other restaurant has been counter seating only).The signature long dining counter, bustling open kitchen and menu packed with flavour all remain.
Food-wise, the classic dishes continue to shine. Like the tortilla: a perfectly eggy, oniony, round potato dish that looked delightfully like a giant Ritz cracker on the outside, but was gooey and delicious on the inside. Or the must-order crispy morcilla croquetas filled with rich, Spanish-style blood pudding, and the green salad: four heads of baby gem lettuce topped with aromatic diced onion and a super-fresh vinaigrette. Be warned, though: some dishes (like the gambas rojas a la sal – salt-baked prawns) are small for the prices, so the bill will creep up quickly.
Barrafina isn’t doing anything particularly new here, but this, its fourth branch, is just as great as the others. In London, that kind of consistency counts for a helluva lot.