Thursday, May 23, 2013

Barrafina Tapas Bar, Sydney CBD

I have mentioned in the past that I am a big fan of tapas and pintxos. So when I spotted this bright yellow cafe one day after a job interview last year, it has been on my mind to check it out ever since. While it's in the CBD, its location on Bligh Street is fairly low key compared to the many other streets of Sydney so it was easy for me to forget where it was. Fast forward many months later and I spotted the cafe during my lunch break and keen to give it a go after spotting the menu. It also has the same name as another Spanish restaurant, Barrafina in London, which has its own cookbook so this convinced me to check it out.

While most restaurants operate for lunch and dinner, Barrafina Tapas operates all day for breakfast, lunch and dinner (depending on the days). When I arrived here for lunch, you can see the breakfast menu listed on the blackboard near the kitchen. This is available until 11am though.

When entering inside, the first thing I notice was the colour scheme and the contemporary modern decor of the restaurant. Everything screamed 'yellow, black and white' as you look at the layout from the sign outside to the yellow bar stools. At first it was fairly quiet but as it reaches peak hour for lunches, the atmosphere was vibrant and noisy with colleagues from workplaces nearby gathering together for a work lunch or a casual meeting. With the atmosphere of the place and the simple yet funky decor, it feels like stepping into a cafe in Barcelona especially in the La Rambla strip.

When I spotted the pan co tomate baguette rubbed with vine tomatoes, garlic and olive oil, I knew I had to order this as I loved the ones I had in Spain. It was similar to a bruschetta but with the tomato rubbed into the bread rather than piling on top. The flavours worked so well together though the bread was very crunchy. Perfect to have as pintxos!

Pan con tomate ($4.30)

This dish had the rustic feel that we love from Spanish plates especially with the chunky romesco salsa, grilled chorizo sausages and the tangy caremelised onions cooked with pedro ximenez (aka sherry) wine. While I did not spot much onions on this plate, the sherry wine was pretty strong in the dish. Dipping the sausages into the romesco sauce was my highlight. They all tasted so good together. 

Chorizo ala Plancha ($14.00)

Fried chicken isn't something I would usually see on a Spanish tapas menu but I was craving for buttermilk fried chicken so I didn't care. It was lightly crumbled and not too crispy like Hartsyard or Arisun but they were still freaking delicious and crunchy enough to satisfy me. At $13.00 for around 5 pieces, this is a good cheap eat compared to many other restaurants and bars serving fried chicken these days. While I won't call it the best fried chicken in Sydney, it was delicious enough to enjoy with your mates especially on a cold day.

Crisp buttermilk chicken, chilli salt, alioli, lemon ($13.00)

Went back for another lunch recently for a few more dishes. This dish reminded me of the sliders at The Carrington (now that I thought about it, the whole menu is fairly similar). Really enjoyed the crispy and juicy soft shell crab. The avocado mousse was a nice creamy yet zesty touch while the bun was a tad chewy but still soft and fluffy.

 Soft shell chilli crab slider, avocado mousse, smoked paprika mayo ($8.60)

Thought this was a somewhat heavy dish but again quite delicious. I loved the crumbly and crispy batter a well as the scattering of paprika for a bit of variety in the overall flavour. Will recommend this dish either on your own (if you only order one dish for yourself) or sharing with mates. 

Lightly floured calamares, aioli, lemon ($13.00)

Considering some of the battered food available, a ceviche is a welcoming relief for the palate and the health conscious mind. The servings was smaller than I expected considering the price compared to the other dishes on the menu. Still, I thought this was one of my favourites with its light and fresh ingredients. On this occasion, this meal reminded me of the dishes I spotted at local restaurants near my hotel in the Eixample district on my first day of Barcelona. So good to try! Just wish that the size of this dish was bigger.

Ceviche of yellow fin tuna, lime, mint, tomato, avocado creme, chilli, eschallots ($22.00)

I'd recommend this place for their mostly authentic food. The atmosphere was buzzing and the prices for most of the food were fairly reasonable, if not, a bit more cheaper than what you would get at many tapas restaurants across Sydney. While service can be friendly at times, the speed of the service may vary. Most of the time, the food was delivered fairly quickly but it can also take a while as well. Also when I requested an extra dish after initially ordering two dishes at first, the front at house person I told this to clearly looked annoyed that I decided to order more. Very keen on heading back to try some of their other dishes including the jamon iberico, the braised beef cheeks, scallops with chorizos, and the fried whitebait.

Barrafina Tapas Bar
2 Bligh Street, Sydney NSW 2000
(02) 9231 2551
Barrafina Tapas Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. the buttermilk chicken and calamares looks amazing!

  2. yum!. i gotta try their soft shell crab slider and Crisp buttermilk chicken now. i've been wanting to try this place for a while as it's a local for me so good to know what you'd recommend. seems to be very popular these days for lunch. if anyone wants to join me next week for lunch let me know :-)

    1. there is so much to try out around the area. i still haven't eaten at Malay Chinese takeaway which is prob much closer to me than Barrafina

  3. What a great find - well done! The food looks great...I love tapas I love to try as MUCH as possible and little dishes are great for that. Soft shell crab slider for me thanks!

    1. just saw it out of luck. wouldn't have seen it otherwise if i wasn't around the area. i'm a huuuge fan of tapas and especially pintxos but the service could be improved to be honest

  4. I had work at a client near here, walked past it everyday! Looks really delicious so I might pop by if I ever go near again :)

    1. give it a go for the food. definitely has a corporate vibe when i saw the people dining there.

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  6. Love this place. They opened downstairs a new Restaurant called Contrabando - is even better!