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|Address:||62 Goodge Street, London W1T 4NE|
|Tel:||020 7768 6567|
|Price: £37.00||Wine: £14.50||Champagne: £50.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Sat 12N-11.30pm (Sat 1pm- )|
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The grand tapas takeover was never going to be the most natural fit for Brits. Designated portions are reassuring (as are reservations, and the time-honoured structure of three courses) and there’s a general consensus that convivial eating might descend into chaos. A shared dish presents the prospect of anarchy, anxiety and – potentially – not leaving the table feeling totally stuffed.
But Goodge Street is the place to go for an authentic taste of Spain, with Navarro’s and Bar Pepito nearby to name but a couple. Barrica would be my pick of the bunch. With its sunshine yellow walls and hams dangling from the ceiling, it’s like a little corner of Madrid. Other tapas bars in London are rife with intimidation tactics as grave-faced diners loiter, urging you to eat up quick so they can nab your stool and get stuck in, but it seems less of a problem here. While it’s rammed and often hectic of an evening, there’s always the option to book and the merry-making is infectious.
It’s also a super-chilled place to while away the afternoon. Certainly at this sleepy hour – ordinarily a no-man’s-land for appetites – there’s no sense of urgency to ‘book-end’ your meal, which is just how tapas should be. You can happily retreat into this sanctuary with a paper, a sherry and the daily specials to keep you company, then continue your tapas crawl a few doors down when darkness falls.
A search for the perfect croqueta will lead you here, and the tortilla and patatas bravas (soused with fire-breathing aioli) are consistently great. Veal cheeks are served in a diminutive earthenware pot, but the flavour is huge – unctuous, sticky and rich with ink-dark Pedro Ximinez. The ever-changing salads should stave off the inevitable coronary, even if the gorgeous platefuls of cured meat and Manchego aren’t helping the cause. To drink? Take your pick from Albarino, a selection of perky roses or one of 20 sherries, accompanied by tasting notes and food matches for the uninitiated or curious.
At times the staff are a tad off-hand and you can wait an age for a top-up, but the latter seems pretty authentic to me; tapas is as much about the journey as the destination, right? Waiters are in no hurry to shoo you out the door if you’re dawdling over a single dish, nor are they necessarily that driven to serve you in a snappy, super-efficient manner. Given the many memorable meals I’ve had here, I’m fine with this; if I want a fancier tapas joint, I’ll head to the crisp table linens and general polish of Salt Yard. Or more likely, I’ll take my piggy behind there for seconds.