To be honest, I’d never heard of Barrica before – a tapas restaurant on Goodge Street just a couple of doors down from Salt Yard. That was until I saw it in the ‘Bib Gourmand recommends’ section of the Michelin guide, so we thought we’d pop down with a group of friends to check it out.
On our Friday evening visit the place was heaving but luckily they take reservations which is a rare treat these days. We were seated at high stools which could have done with a cushion as I quickly suffered a numb bum. The lively and bustly atmosphere helped take our mind off our derrières however.
We started with some oysters drizzled with hot paprika oil (£1.95 each) which were really lovely. The spicy oil did overpower the oysters completely, but as the flavour was so enjoyable it didn’t really matter.
The patatas bravas (£4.50) were crunchy but lacked seasoning. The accompanying ‘Ali Oli’ and bravas sauce provided plenty of flavour however. The tortilla (£3.95) had a lovely gooey centre which was divine. The croquetas de jamón (£2.75 for two) were every bit as gooey as you’d hope for.
The smoked duck breast on red currant buttered toast (£3.95) certainly delivered on flavour but the meat was a little grey and over cooked. The leg of the smoked pigeon (£8.50) was also over-done but the Pedro Ximinez sauce that it was drenched in was cracking.
The ham hock and mustard Empanadilla (£4.50) was like a mini Spanish pasty and it was bloody heavenly. The pastry casing was buttery and the filling, which had a lovely subtle heat to it, was full of flavour. The two highlights of the meal were the braised ox cheeks (£6.95) which were served with a buttery mash and more of that sauce from the pigeon and the Ibérico pork shoulder (£7.95) which was so tender and meaty.
For dessert, the Torrijas (£4.50) which is a Spanish style French toast were incredible. Two thick wedges of sweet sticky toast – what’s not to like?! The baked yoghurt and Seville orange tart (£4.95) was surprisingly bland and tasteless though, which was a shame. The smoked oloroso, date and Marcona almond ice cream (£4.50) however was some of the tastiest ice cream I’ve eaten in a long time.
Barrica probably wasn’t the most exciting tapas restaurant I’ve ever been to (that award would almost certainly go to José on Bermondsey Street) but on the whole the food was most enjoyable. The service was warm and friendly too which always helps. You could do a lot worse than have dinner here.