Harden's survey result
“The tapas is perfection and the equal of Cal Pep in Barcelona” at the Hart Bros’ “vibrant” chain of small (typically 30 covers) no-bookings bars, which its vast fanclub acclaim as “the best tapas in London or in the UK or perhaps even in Europe north of the Pyrenees!”, with “delicious, ultra-fresh seafood” a particular highlight. The preparation at the counter is “still a great piece of theatre” and – buoyed by its “exceptional, friendly, enthusiastic and knowledgeable staff” – helps create a feelgood experience. “Don’t be put off by the queuing – it’s part of the fun: sipping on Cava and nibbling on Jamon as you snake your way to the front of the line!”. This year, the group added a “slick outfit in the new Coal Drops Yard development” – “it lacks a bit of the charm and vibe of those in Soho and Covent Garden, but the edibles are still very edible!”
“The perfect alternative to a trip to Spain!” – in fact “the food is better than in Barcelona” in the branches of the Hart Bros’ small chain, which pays homage to that city’s Cal Pep with its small (no more than 30 covers) bars in Soho and Covent Garden (and – arriving in autumn 2018, in the trendy new Coal Drops Yard development in King’s Cross, alongside a covered and heated terrace separately branded as ‘Parrillan’). Confidently ‘surfing the Zeitgeist’ – no other individual restaurant, never mind group, has ever achieved such an outstanding and consistent level of support in the survey, over many years. There’s “no booking and no fuss” – “you often have to queue” (though drinks and nibbles help enliven the experience) and seating is “counter-stye” at the bar (“which works less well for any kind of group, but for couples is ideal”). With its “bold Spanish flavours” the tapas selection is “arguably some of London’s best food at any price, and remarkable value” (while by the same token “watching the chefs at work is brilliant” – “there’s nothing theatrical, but it’s mesmerising seeing experts so engrossed in their stations”). “The wine list is short, punchy and perfectly complements the food”, “staff seem to be having as good a time as the clientele” and the overall effect is properly “effervescent”. Top Tip: “always go for the daily blackboard specials, especially the fish”, which is “cooked to a tee and beautifully seasoned”.
“The wait can sometimes be twice the time spent at the counter”, but no-one seems to mind at the Hart Bros kick-ass small group of Barcelona-inspired tapas haunts in Soho (now relocated to the ground floor of Quo Vadis) and Covent Garden. “The buzz is amazing” and, having nabbed a perch (fewer than 30 in each branch), everyone “loves the open kitchen and watching the keen staff at work”, while the dishes themselves are genius – “fresh seafood is amongst the highlights” but “even something as simple as tomato bruschetta is transformed here”. (So far, the February 2017 departure of founding group exec head chef, Nieves Barragán Mohacho, to found Sabor, has had zero effect on ratings – the new incumbent is Angel Zapata Martin.)
“It’s a theatrical experience to watch your food being prepared with such artistic delicacy and loving care” at the Hart Bros’ “rightly celebrated” bars, whose “utterly brilliant” tapas is “better even than in Barcelona”. Despite “a queue visible from the space station” (at W1 especially), the food is “totally worth the wait every time” and the “terrific and very kind” staff add to the “wonderfully dynamic” atmosphere. “Exceptionally, the spin-offs are as good as the original” (each is “subtly different”), but in autumn 2016, change is afoot, as the original Frith Street branch moves site into the redeveloped ground floor of nearby Quo Vadis (see also). Top Menu Tip – “everything is bloomin’ marvellous and fresh, but anything out of the sea most especially so”.
Barrafina Restaurant Diner Reviews
"The quality of the tapas was outstanding and previous reviews are correct in their praise. Service although attentive was not particularly welcoming which might be a sign of staff shortages. All in all a good experience. "
"If they opened a place in Heaven I would become a Christian. Only advantage of Brexit referendum, it has been easier to get a seat at the bar."
"You have to queue at peak time but can get in slightly off peak eg 2.30pm. Each dish is excellent but beware, several small dishes do mount up."
"Saturday lunchtime. What a treat. However, £8.80 for two sardines and £18.80 for one large prawn, delicious though they were, is pushing it."
"Standard stay high here; You sit on a reasonably comfortable bar stool if you are lucky enough to get in! Cooking in front of you is fun. Everything we have had here has been a prime example of superb Tapas, fresh and a limited menu. Its not cheap but if you take care you can have an excellent and different meal."
"What a pity its so hard to get in (no reservations so waiting during peak hours). Food still excellent although not cheap. Bar stools discourage you from lingering."
"Always excellent, a great range of tapas and drinks along with great service and a good, vibrant atmosphere."
"Walked in and had an excellent meal. Need to visit a couple of times in order to understand the concept. Started with an excellent Pan con Tomate . Followed by a Stuffed Courgette Flower. Really enjoyed the Monkfish special. Evening rounded off with an excellent cheese board"