I’ve eaten out a lot lately, with no intention of writing any of it up. What a revelation. It’s suddenly clear why those who sate their addiction to share with merely an Instagram or two seem so bloody smug. Not to mention the rest of you who eat out simply because you enjoy it and it’s tea.
Take the newest Barrafina. I knew before heading in the vague direction of Drury Lane that the this Hart brothers and Barragan venture would be the same as their other two tapas bars bearing the same name. Which is to say: classy, on point, ridiculously tasty, and a little bit pricier than one would like (but somehow not begrudgingly so). Just go in and enjoy, Ed. Put the keyboard away.
True to form it’s another cracker, and there’s little that wasn’t written about the Adelaide Street opening last year that doesn’t ring true now. So maybe have a read of that one and just change a couple of the menu items …
… except then came an itch. “Perhaps something should be noted down about one or two of these recent eats”, pondered muggins. Plus, I haven’t doodled for a while.
The itch, I figured, could be fairly easily be scratched with a ‘One Good Reason’ post – on why you should head to Drury Lane for a crab roll because it somehow manages to be refined and filthy at exactly the same time. It would be no hardship to write a couple of paragraphs about a pillow soft bun that’s filled with a rich, sloppy mix of brown and white crab meat; the kind of thing that makes eating a burrito elegantly seem as easy as falling off a log.
Except on reflection this was not the best thing on the menu. Nor the one reason you should go (and you should).
The crab roll was lush. But braised oxtail rolled into an outrageously flavourful sausage, seared and served on an ethereally light potato espuma was better. As, probably, was a simple piece of toasted bread, topped with grilled sweet peppers and outstanding anchovies. Heck, there’s an argument to be made for the pan con tomate.
In fact, the only bad thing about this place (save the dented credit card), is that you can’t order everything. At some point in your meal someone else along the long, curving bar will order something that you didn’t and you’ll be annoyed – be that a daily special, or the always available oozing tortilla you deliberated over but figured you’d probably already selected enough.
And this means there’s no way I could say with anything resembling authority that there’s a menu item that singularly provides a reason to go.
At a push, what I personally liked the most was sitting at a packed counter in theatre land, watching a set of Spanish chefs and hosts perform a mesmerising ballet whilst speaking softly to each other in that melodic hispanic lilt. It’s like being momentarily transported one of Madrid’s finer and more forward thinking tapas bars, without the boring transport costs or the stifling heat.
But if I started going on about that, this would be moving towards a regular write up. And that was never the intention.
Barrafina Drury Lane in 3 words
Todo es bueno
£40-75pp depending on the size of your hunger and thirst
www.barrafina.co.uk – 43 Drury Lane, London WC2B 5AJ – no reservations, Mon-Fri 12-3pm, 5-11pm.