I love the concept of tapas – small dishes designed for sharing which allows the table to sample a lot more flavours in one go rather than ordering a main each. Sydney has plenty of nice Spanish restaurants, but Barrafina sets itself apart from them with its contemporary décor and buzzing atmosphere. This new tapas bar sits on the corner of Bligh Street, which makes it perfectly positioned to service the corporate workers who have time to digest a full restaurant meal at lunch.
Even though it only opened recently, Barrafina is already bustling with a lunchtime crowd and we’re glad that we booked early to secure a large table for lunch. The space is very neatly decorated in a minimalistic style with bright splashes of yellow on some of the chairs and the colourful wall, enhancing its effortlessly modern vibe.
After glancing at the menu, we decide to try one of each of the tapas and mains, since there are 14 of us dining and around 15 dishes on the menu. However, on the waiter’s recommendation he put together a selection of the dishes to allow us to sample a bit of everything except for the pricier options. There was even an unexpected bonus of a complimentary glass of wine or beer for everyone in the restaurant because Barrafina were still waiting on their liquor licence!
The free drinks did put us into quite a good mood to enjoy our tapas, but even without the beer goggles I would say that the food was absolutely delicious. There were more than a few stand out dishes for me from this meal:
Lightly floured calamari, aioli, lemon, $12
Barrafina’s aioli really packs a strong punch of flavour much to my delight. The lightly floured calamari was also panfried beautifully.
Jamon Serrano and manchego croquetas, $6 for 2
These croquettes were a real treat; lightly crumbed on the outside and oozing with melted manchego cheese and diced jamon on the inside once you take a bite. We also got the stronger tasting Spanish blue cheese and walnut croquettes which were also quite nice, paired with beetroot puree and wild rocket. Note: These servings were upsized for our larger group, the regular serving is 2 or 3 croquettes.
Spanish blue cheese and walnet croquetas, $9.50 for 3
Veal meatballs, pine nuts, tomato frito and patatas, $11
There were only 5 delicious meatballs to share in this dish and I wish there was more because they had a wonderful, hearty tomato sauce which complemented the flavour of the veal well.
Ceviche of NSW south coast snapper, avocado, lime, chilli, eschallots and mint, $19.80
The ceviche allowed us to take a short break from all the heavier aspects of the meal with zesty flavours from the lime, mint and diced chilli bringing out the freshness of the fish.
Twice cooked potatoes, salsa brava, aioli $8
The intense aioli makes another appearance, this time in Barrafina’s version of patatas bravas, one of my all time favourite tapas dishes. Nothing really beats lightly fried potato cubes with the perfect amount of crunch and addictive salsa drizzled on top.
Fried West Australian whitebait with harissa mayo, lime, $11.80
I am not usually a fan of whitebait because I don’t like the feeling of the sharp little bones still attached to the flesh of the fish, but I made an exception for this and was glad that I did because the harissa chilli mayonnaise which accompanied it was divine!
We also got a couple of their slow cooked meat offerings like their slow roasted beef shoulder, but I felt that their fried tapas dishes were the shining stars of the meal and overshadowed them. That’s not to say that they weren’t well done, it’s just that I found their other dishes to be more interesting flavour and texture wise.
All in all, I was very impressed with the high quality of the dishes at Barrafina and the reasonable prices they charge for them. It’s a lovely, spacious restaurant which is perfect for work lunches and their friendly service is just the cherry on top.
Barrafina Tapas Bar
Ground Level, 2 Bligh St
Sydney NSW 2000
Phone: (02) 9231 2551