Mixing authenticity with confidence and urban gloss, Barrafina’s lively theatreland outlet shows its glamorous side with huge windows, glittering mirrors, chrome and steel. The action centres around a curved marble-topped bar – an intimate, chatty and exuberant space overseen by hard-working chefs and helpful staff “who really know their produce”.
Readers confirm that “the quality of the food is always excellent”, especially if you’re hooked on familiar rustic classics such as Padrón peppers, tortillas, prawn croquetas, Ibéico ham or suckling pig roasted in a traditional tin tray. There’s luscious seafood with rice and cod catalan (lightly cooked fish with pine nuts, plum sauce and slivers of crisp skin), while pan con tomate arrives as a generous dollop of chopped tomatoes and green herbs instead of the usual scrape of tomato and garlic on a slice of bread.
For something more adventurous, try the crispy fried pig’s ears with chimichurri sauce and tabasco mayonnaise or roughly chopped tartare of lamb’s heart with quail’s egg and dill oil emulsion. Other top calls range from milk-fed lamb’s brains in a coating of panko crumbs with a rich dollop of tapenade and tomato sofrito to butifarra (rustic pork sausage) served with trinxat, a Catalan wintertime patty of cabbage, black pudding, rice and garlic.
Puddings include cujada (a lighter version of pannacotta topped with a crumble of honey and caramel), although we can’t resist the heavenly crema catalana – little bonbons of filo pastry filled with runny crème caramel and dusted with icing sugar. Fabulous Spanish regional wines, specialist sherries and cava complete a triumphant package.