The Barbary, London March 2018

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So despite the time lag in writing this review, this remains my best meal of 2018 so far. If you are in London, I would highly recommend it. The only slight issue is the potential wait. The restaurant is a counter top style set up around an open (very lively) kitchen. You can make bookings for when they open at 5.30pm, but after that you wait in line. And wait and wait. Thankfully the end product is worth it.

This was the second night of our easter trip to London, and the weather was not being kind. In fact no blue sky was to be seen all weekend, adding further to my case that the weather isn’t all that bad up north.

We headed to the Barbary at 7pm, thinking the first sitting might be coming to an end. It was, unfortunately, the restaurant are too nice at turning the stools and we had to wait a very long time. Somewhat frustrating as a large party of guys were hogging about 7 stools and were literally just sat staring at their phones for half an hour, whilst we stood patiently in line 2 feet from them. I was persuaded not to go in search of another eatery by the blonde just as we were offered some queuing nibbles. These persuaded me that despite the wait we were in the right place. Delicious cheesy bites with a wicked dipping sauce.

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After about an hour, the guys decided they’d go and look at their phones elsewhere and we were granted a seat at the counter.

Now sitting like this is an experience in itself for me. I love watching the chefs work, but this is something else. These guys can cook, and they are happy to make fire shows, start kitchen sing songs and generally have a great time. Thankfully no distraction is evident in the taste of their food.

This is why they were 2017’s best TimeOut London restaurant and why they have a Michelin Bib Gourmand. Will the star arrive in 2018? Serving food inspired by the Barbary Coast, think North Africa, Lebanese sharing dishes with immense flavour and excellent meat dishes cooked on open flame.

To kick things off we went for a naan with some more cheese, their signature halloumi and some babba ghanoush. The naan traveeled about 4 feet from the tandoor right onto our plates. It tasted divine and so fresh. The baba ghanoush did not disappoint with deep smoky aubergine flavours, anbd the halloumi, well it was the best I’ve eaten. Deep charcoaled stripes signalled this cheese had been cooked very hot, very quick. Amazing.

For mains we went with the chicken dish and the lamb, with a side of cauliflower. The flavours were incredible. Thie chicken rich and perfectly spiced, the cauliflower was one of those “I’ve never had cauliflower like that” moments.

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Then the Lamb – i’ve taken a video of the lamb and I think that speaks a thousand words.

Beautifully tender meat, pink on the inside with a bite that starts with deliciously charred flavours and ends up almost silk. This is food at its very best for me and having experienced Michelin starred eating, whilst I can appreciate the craft and artistry, this cooking  speaks more to me about what is good wholesome food.

Some beer and a bottle of wine and the bill came in at about £100. For food like this, in Covent Garden (Seven Dials to be precise), that was great value.

I loved the Barbary and I can’t wait to go back. But next time it will be at 5.30pm with a reservation. I haven’t done this before, but I’m awarding the Barbary top marks for great atmosphere and flawless food. Truly stunning.

20/20

 

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