I decided to visit this restaurant after reading all the great reviews during a short business trip to London and had high expectations. Unfortunately, it was decidedly average. Barrafina is a pretty small establishment with seating only at the bar which surrounds part of the open kitchen. Some people would enjoy the experience, myself I prefer not to come out of a restaurant smelling of cooking and feel in the need of an immediate shower.
On the Sunday evening that I went there was already a 30 minute wait after only opening for 45 minutes. Thankfully I was on my own so got seated immediately. The restaurant is supposedly a ‘high end’ eatery but is decidedly lacking in many areas.
Firstly service – while I got seated immediately, it took another 10 minutes before I was actually served. The servers take the orders from behind the bar so it wasn’t as if they couldn’t see I was waiting. Secondly – the menu was entirely in Spanish – which is fine if you can read Spanish but not if you don’t!
So it was a case of looking at what other people are ordering and seeing what looks tasty. I ordered the octopus, spinach and pancetta tortilla, and the rump of lamb. The restaurant clearly uses high quality ingredients which is highly commendable and the cooked dishes certainly look very appetising however it is very average in the taste test. Even the quality ingredients can't compensate for the lack of flavours. While the octopus was soft and not the usual rubbery affair, there were only 8 small bites for £9. The only flavouring came from the paprika seasoning sprinkled over the top but otherwise bland. The tortilla was very salty due to the pancetta and was very watery in the middle. The lamb was the biggest disappointment, while it was cooked to perfection, the miniscule piece of meat (only four bites for £10) was drenched in a watery sauce which again was bland. Each plate took about 20 minutes to be served (you are only served one dish at a time) – as I’ve mentioned it is a small establishment with limited seating and seeing as its tapas – the waiting time for each dish was too long.
My biggest complaint is the fact that they charge a 12.5% service charge but nowhere on the menu or website does it tell you this so you only find out when the bill comes. I don’t mind paying a 12.5% service charge if the food, service and ambiance are worth it, in this case it most definitely was not.
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