Barrafina Dean Street

Gold Award
££££
Spanish, Tapas

Barrafina Dean Street
Barrafina Dean Street
Barrafina Dean Street
Bookings not required

Reservations are not required at Barrafina Dean Street.

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SquareMeal Review of Barrafina Dean Street

Gold Award

London’s first Barrafina has sparked three offshoots with their own distinct personality (Drury Lane, Adelaide Street, Coal Drops Yard), but the Soho original is the one that corresponds most closely to many people’s idea of the perfect tapas bar – chorizo and chipirones, gambas al ajillo and grilled sardines, all washed down with cava and sherry, Albariño and Tempranillo.

The Hart brothers’ “unbeatable template” shows in the venue’s marble surfaces, open kitchen, red-leather bar stools and mirrors, while the food is “endlessly fascinating and endlessly enjoyable”. As a fail-safe, the Barrafina classics beg to be ordered. A trio of prawns, pale and pink, arrives fresh from a sizzle on the plancha scattered with thick slices of crunchy fried garlic. There’s more garlic in the puréed tomato dripping off a slice of toasted sourdough. Made-to-order tortilla – plain for preference, prawn and piquillo for a change – leaks egg yolk at the gentlest prod of a fork.

But don’t ignore the daily specials chalked up on the blackboard. Deep-fried artichoke flowers, prickly as sea urchins, or crisp nuggets of battered cod with a gazpacho-like salmorejo sauce are far classier than your average tapas. And save space for a slice of Santiago tart, as sweetly almondy as a glass of Amaretto.

Downsides? There’s only one. Unless you arrive before 6pm, you can forget about getting a stool at the marble bar in under an hour, though ever-charming staff are on hand to feed the queue with oozing ham croquetas and glasses of their “sublime” own-label Manzanilla (“a perfect partner for the entire menu”, as it happens). Our advice? Pop in for an off-peak lunch and plan a siesta afterwards.   

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - £30 - £49
Cuisines
Spanish, Tapas
Ambience
Cool, Fun, Lively, Traditional
Other Awards
One Michelin star
Special Features
Counter dining
People
Dates, Romantic

Location for Barrafina Dean Street

26-29 Dean Street, London, London, W1D 3LL

Website

Opening Times

Mon-Sat 12N-3pm 5-11pm Sun 1pm-3.30pm 5.30-10pm

Reviews of Barrafina Dean Street

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14 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Piglet

Our favourite restaurant in London
21 January 2015  
We have eaten here more than any other restaurant in London, it is always first on our list when we have a free weekend lunchtime to be filled. For some reason I never want to have to queue for dinner, but if I have to wait at lunchtime (which I rarely do because I sit outside from about 11.30am), then it is always totally worth it. The staff are so friendly, knowledgeable and helpful (even if they have forgotten to charge us for our bottle of wine on 2 occasions - we told them and paid though)! There are always lots of super fresh fish and salad specials, but honestly, the main draw for me is the board of hams, chorizo, lomo etc. and the ham croquetas - I adore them and refuse to share with anyone who is with me. If you haven't been, go, you'll go back for more, I promise.
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Ms/Mrs. Krystle L

12 November 2012  
Barrafina is a lovely bar, serving tasty tapas in just the right proportions. I enjoyed the steak, the octopus with capers, tortillas and the cold meat platter. I waited for 1 hour 20 min for a table. I'm unsure if I'll be willing to wait again in the future though…That said, if you don’t mind standing in line in a cramped restaurant for over an hour, Barrafina will definitely be worth the wait.
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Mr. Rich M

22 September 2012  
I'll 'fess up. I'm a Barrafina fanboy. Other tapas joints come and go, but the tiny open kitchen surrounded by a ring of covetted stools has remained consistently one of my favourite places to eat. Freshly sourced food, cooked as simply as is needed, around that bright buzzy little bar. It's not one you'll often hear me recommend though, as it's another (possibly the first) of the no reservations crowd. Get there dot on 12 for lunch and before 6pm if you need to know what time you're eating, otherwise just accept that you're going to have a wait, always. With a good glass of wine (or five) and great company the wait for a space at the bar won't be a problem but you will be there for a minimum of 2 hours. The small front of house team (most of the ‘waiting’ is done by the chefs) can be slightly stroppy and on occasions disorganised while you stand outside the hallowed ring of seats, this will be in part due to your frustrations as you inhale the tantalising fumes. They're friendly enough and endearingly quirky once you're sat at that marble counter. Listen to the specials as they reel them off the tiny chalk board. Most are fish, different depending on the day. We started with lightly yielding razor clams doused in garlic and parsley off the board, fresh from the ice, to the grill to the plate in front of us, still alive as they hit the searing heat, a journey of no more than a metre from start to final destination. From the same grill came tiny gamey quail, cooked well with a soft touch delivering the lightest crust. Other hits included a perfectly cooked frittata, its eggy innards oozing prawn and picante pepper, and a selection of meats, hand carved to order. So far, so excellent. If salt cod fritters, patatas and a heritage tomato salad didn't reach the dizzying heights it was because there wasn't a dizzying height needed. A decent bottle of rose (with one or two supplementary glasses needed) and the bill came to around £50 a head. Perfectly acceptable for the quality and quantity consumed. Journey time, estimated at two hours, was closer to three, and as we finally rolled off our stools and out into mid-afternoon Soho, the queues had finally subsided.
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Mr. Grant M

22 July 2012  
Have struggled to get in when arriving around 9pm a few times but still come back wanting in. A restaurant mimicking Cal Pep in Barcelona. Have found the staff really attentive when waiting in line and eager to please when seated. Food can be fantastic or just alright on the night but overall enjoyable. Supply of quality ingredient has to come into play when cooking a fresh seasonal menu. Always a more upper dining crowd with a few tourists wide eyed on bar stools. Take friend their when in Soho for a taste of Spain
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Ellen F

28 May 2012  
Another evening, another foodie queue. Thank god my companion got to Barrafina at 6pm on the dot and bagged us a pair of barstools because, despite the fact that normally only miners eat at this hour, about 5 minutes later the place is full. The eat-at-bar concept really suits the light, bright, informal atmosphere here and has the bonus/downside (depending on whether you're queueing or not) of discouraging lingering. It also makes it easy to catch the eye of the cheery servers behind it when you decide to smash through the recommended 6 dishes per pair, which is easy to do. The appealing menu is supplemented by a lengthy specials board and a selection of seafood on ice which shout Fresh Fresh Fresh. We sampled (amongst others) some well-executed classics like Pan con Tomate and Croquetas, delicious honey-drizzled courgette flowers stuffed with creamy goats cheese, paprika'd unchewy octopus and tender scallops. This is messy, finger-licking food. I pulled off a prawn head covering myself and my companion in a garlicky chilli oil. I think it was worth the dry cleaning bill (I hope she agrees!). We also smash through the average lingering time by going for dessert (a Santiago Tart, like Christmas on a plate) and coffees. The wine list is a Chardonnay-free zone (Hurrah!) focussing on Iberian wines. We had an Albarino: light and fruity, perfect for fishy fresh food. I was lucky enough not to see the bill, but I suspect it fell somewhere between Bit High for Relaxed Tapas Dining and Surprisingly Low for Central Trendy Yumminess. By the time we leave, queuers are waiting patiently the length of the sidewall and, for those not so patient, are being fed tapas passed over the barstools. The Spanish traditionally eat tapas whilst propping up the bar so perhaps us grumbling London oldies should just revel in the authenticity of it all and invest in some support tights.
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Ms/Mrs. Natasha K

17 January 2012  
My favorite place to eat after work. Fabulous seasonal menu's, the specials are always special (the last time we went they had the most delicious Mozambique prawns) and the atmosphere is very spanish. No bookings, but you can order small plates and wine while you wait at the small bar. Spanish waiters and a traditional spanish menu made me feel as though i was back in Madrid without having to leave London – shame about the weather!
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Mr. Richard E

15 January 2010  
The Hart brothers seem intent on conquering the Spainish restaurant market in London, and barrafina is a fine example of a simple concept (a tapas bar) executed with style and panash. Like a sushi bar (or Joel's eponymous L'Atelier), the L – shaped bar grants an excellent view of the chef's at work. The fish sits proudly on display centre stage and the plancha is fired up and ready for action. The action is all fairly low key, less Hell's Kitchen b******ing, more gentle ribbing, amongst the young staff. I do, however, love the fact that, although the chef is directly in front of you, you have just seen him (and they do all seem to be him's) prepare your food, it is then sitting there on his side of the counter, he has to call a waiter to pass it the twelve inches to you! Come on, muck in; it really isn't beneath you to pass the food, especially as the chefs are all happy to chat away with the customers as they go about their business. Of the myriad dishes on offer, the razor clams stand out, as does the suckling pig and the blood sausage with quail eggs. The tortilla's are perfectly cooked right in front of you and the Jamon Iberica sliced paper thin. As you'd expect from a tapas bar (although generally don't get in this country), there is a good range of sherry's (try the Pastrana), as well as a short, but keenly priced wine list, of which all are available by the glass. Albarino is one of those trendy grapes at the moment, and the Paxo de Senorans on sale last time is very good, but they also have some interesting Godello and some white blends from wine producing corners of Spain you might not have come across before. On the niggle side, prices are very upper-end Soho (not individually but, like any place where you order lots of little dishes, they soon do add up), and the no-booking policy can be a pain, but overall, and excellent little place in the heart of Soho.
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Ms/Mrs. Anna N

19 October 2009  
Buzzy bar with highly skilled staff working behind it. The fish produce is super fresh; when we visited we had a delicious scallop carpaccio – very soft, thinly sliced with a lemon dressing; garlicky razor clams and la fritura – mixed dried seafood of the day, which included red mullet, prawns and calamari. We also had the coca mallorquina – the spinach was perfectly cooked with none of the bitterness you can sometimes get, complemented by pine kernels and raisins; and a delicious heritage tomato salad – flavoursome tomatoes, perfectly seasoned. The wine list was very good – I recommend the fresh, zesty Muga blanco and the savoury, silky Gran Reserva from La RIoja Alta. If it wasn't for the prices (we soon racked up over £70 for two people), and the queue, it would be 10 out of 10 and the equal of tapas bars I've been to in Spain.
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Mr. Jarrod F

01 September 2009  
Freshest fish and shellfish (if they're on the shelf the baby razor clams are not to be missed), exceptional meats (hot and cold) and gorgeous veg, all cooked/prepared in front of you. Absolutely no nonsense, don't come expecting a sit down meal experience, it is all about the tapas and banter with whom your with. I've not had a dish (or starter or side order) that disappointed and La Gitana sherry is an excellent accompaniment. Writing about Barrafina is making me want to go there, now.
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Mr. Roberto P

07 April 2009  
I just love this place…everything about it is so right! Gets busy and doesn't take bookings so you want to get there early or late. You don't really want to be more than 2 people as all seating is at the bar (except for a few tables outside that I would avoid). Would also try to sit at one end of the bar or on the corner for more room. Try any of the long list of specials…had some delicious pigs cheeks at the recommendation of our waiter/barman and they were ‘melt in your mouth’ delicious. Hart brothers should stick to the Spanish formla…I wasn't so keen on there re-incarnation of Quo Vardis…all a bit grown up and dull. Fino is also good but Barrafina is better!
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