To celebrate our two year (civil ceremony) anniversary, E took me to a place that had been hanging around at the top of my restaurant wish-list for too long - Barrafina. Having heard that you pretty much need to go before they open to avoid queuing, we turned up well before 5pm, first in line being the keenest of beans, but a couple of minutes later we weren't the only ones waiting. The couple behind us told us that the wait was well worth it, and it'll be even more delicious than we've been told it is - talk about building up expectations!
No doubt all food-loving Londoners have at least heard of Barrafina, but they are a Spanish tapas place (with 2 established branches and one newly opened) with only counter seats. Although E was initially worried that counter seats wouldn't be romantic enough for an anniversary dinner (you can't cure the romance in a Frenchman), he also immediately loved the ambience and setting of the place (we went to the Adelaide St. branch), and we were happily sat with a friendly waiter in charge of us.
Even as we perused the menu, there were too many things we wanted to try and were already vowing to come back for more... and that's a definite, now that we've actually tried the food and absolutely loved it! Every dish we took, we were impressed by - but let me give you a little breakdown of our picks:
Pan con Tomate - classic, and a must at a good tapas restaurant in my opinion. E said, "yep, no way these tomatoes come from Tesco". Such fresh ingredients and perfectly seasoned.
Jamón de Bellota 5 Jotas - another obligatory dish, and we loved every slice of that ham.
Crab Croquettas - crab croquettes, and the best I've ever tried. They seriously don't skimp on the crab, and I could wax lyrical about these all day.
Salt Cod Fritters - probably the least favourite dish of ours, just because the batter to fish ratio wasn't great, but it was still delicious.
Artichokes, Aioli - fried artichoke, who knew it was so good? And the aioli was spot on.
Tortilla Morcilla and Piquillo Peppers - classic Spanish tortilla, with black pudding and peppers. This was possibly the best tortilla I've ever had, and the black pudding is a great touch.
Arroz de Marisco - hands down, our favourite dish of the night. Incredible seafood risotto, I would pop in to Barrafina to have this for lunch! Amazing, a must-order.
Milk Fed Lamb's Kidneys - I'm not big on kidneys, but we were told this was a fantastic dish so we had to try it. It came on a coal grill, and I have to admit that I liked it. Maybe not enough to order it again, but that's personal taste.
Iberian Pork Ribs - This came last, and by then I was pretty stuffed and only managed a bite or two - but E cleaned it up! It was superb, and I just wish I had left more room for it.
There is a reason why we didn't have dessert at Barrafina, although I'm not sure that I could have managed any without a little break...
Which is why it was good that dessert was waiting for us at home! After digesting for a while, we popped open some pink bubbly, and E presented us with the special tarts that he had made. I can't deny it, I was thoroughly impressed.
These are Pear & Chocolate Tarts, and I just think that they look so fancy and beautiful! And taste-wise, it's one of my favourite desserts that E has ever made (and that's saying something). He really outdid himself, and I felt very spoilt.
Back to Barrafina for a moment - we will most definitely be back, and their other branches have different menus, too, which means we're just going to have to the hard job of trying them all, aren't we?
As for the dessert, E's set a high bar for himself as we're only two year into marriage... let's see how extravagant they get each year...!