Another day, another excellent dinner – this time at Barrafina‘s new outpost.
Recently opened on Drury Lane, it’s in the same vicinity as the Covent Garden branch on Adelaide Street, and really not too far from it’s michelin-starred sister restaurant on Frith Street in Soho. Brothers and co-founders, Sam and Eddie Hart, clearly have a recipe for success on their hands.
The vibe at Drury Lane is a convivial but distinctly busy one with quite a buzz and bustle to it. Given the no-reservations policy, it wasn’t luck that nabbed us three coveted spaces for dinner around the L-shaped counter surrounding the open plan kitchen. It was resolution on part of my bezzie Megs and her fella Sam, to stick it out over nearly an hour’s wait before the spots freed up. I cheekily joined in later, having started the evening out at a fabulously fun event hosted by London Restaurant Network at Anise Bar over in the city (more on that coming soon on my guest blog for citylicious.net).
The wait wasn’t all that bad of course, with a good selection of sherry, cava & wine to smooth over the time. Our recommendation is their signature aperitif – a Vermut Negre by Casa Mariol, served with soda on the rocks.
The base wine is made entirely with macabeo grapes from Catalonia, darkened with unripe green walnuts and steeped with a mix of herbs and spices (rosemary, thyme, orange peel, wormwood and cardamom!) in oak for six months. The result is a delightfully fruity, light and well-balanced aperitivo, that pairs well with the heavier dishes on the menu that you’re bound to find yourself ordering.
It was inevitable that vegetarians would be sidelined by a menu focused on meats and sea food (even the dedicated “vegetables” section was not spared). But the amiable and accommodating staff did their best to adapt, making dishes veg-friendly where possible.
Non veggie readers need not stop reading this post at this point – both my dinner companions are vociferous (but discerning!) carnivores and I’ll do my best to relay their views to you.
On to what we had then, shall we?
Stuffed courgette flower. A thing of beauty, the courgette flower had a crisp glaze but oozed warm, soft cream and goats cheese once we cut into it…
Ensaladilla Rusa. A cold, creamy mash of potatoes, carrots and mayo with peppers on top and a generous dousing of olive oil. It was all-too enjoyably mopped up with the very moreish breadsticks served on the side.
Baby gem, botarga, walnuts, pancetta & manchego – gloriously drenched in olive oil, this delicate salad proved to be a riot of textures – the butteriness of the manchego (a sheep milk’s cheese) particularly shining through.
Melt-in-your mouth, paletilla ibérica. Blink and it was gone, each sliver devoured by my hangry friends.
Salt cod brandada. I’m told that the squid ink sauce was well-balanced and did not overwhelm, while the tinge of parsley did a lot to enhance the flavours.
A crisp-skinned roast milk fed lamb. This was found to be a tad anti-climatic, lacking as it was the abundance of flavours that ran rampant in the other dishes ordered.
Patatas bravas. Medium cut English-style chips were not exactly what we were expecting, so this also a bit of a disappointment if we’re being honest.
Poached duck egg on brioche, from the “tortillas y huevos” selection – this for me was undoubtedly the star of the show. The truffle oil added an exquisite richness, while the brioche was a thick hunk of a buttery goodness. I just don’t think I could go back to regular eggs florentine after having had a taste of this.
Last but not least, leche frita. Custard deep-fried until perfectly-golden, a cinammon-coated mass with a silken gooey centre. Served on a thick bed of fresh strawberry jam, with an almost paste-like texture, the plate was wiped clean.
There’s a good chance that you may find us next, checking in at Barrafina’s sister restaurants.
Barrafina, 43 Drury Lane, Covent Garden, London WC2B 5AJ