What: A four-pronged, split-level approach from the Hart Group in the newly-opened Coal Drops Yard in London’s King Cross. The group’s ambition matches that of the developers’, with it having opened the latest outpost of its hugely popular tapas restaurant; Casa Pastor, a 200-cover follow up to Borough Market taqueria El Pastor, which is described as its Mexican big sister; Plaza Pastor “the naughty cousin” of Casa Pastor, that comprises an outside bar and kitchen and seating area for 100 people (albeit under cover); and an adjoining wine bar The Drop. If that’s wasn’t enough, there are plans to create a sheltered outside area at the front of the Barrafina, likely to open next spring, that could feature tables installed with parilla grills to allow guests to cook a small selection of meat and fish as they sit. All in all, the sites have over 400 covers.
Who: Brothers Sam and James Hart alongside Crispin Somerville are the brains behind the project with Barrafina executive head chef Angel Zapata Martin, who replaced Nieves Barragan Mohacho last May, having devised his first full menu for the now four-strong tapas restaurant.
The Food: Zapata Martin was previously sous chef at the three-Michelin-starred Barcelona restaurant Can Fabes and is keen to show what he can do at the new Barrafina. Dishes include red prawns and pig’s trotters; calamar and butifarra bun; Pyrenean lamb chops with tumbet (pictured); and suckling pig empanadilla. Casa Pastor’s menu is similar to its older sibling, with the likes of tacos and quesadillas with Plaza Pastor the place to come for rotisserie meats, more tacos and mezcal. And then there’s The Drop, with its ‘Carefully chosen wines, broadly British dishes’ tagline, serving charcuterie and light bites and oysters from an outside cart.
The vibe: There’s very much a party feel to the lower level locations, with live music and outdoor heaters a feature of Plaza Pastor to keep things lively. Above at Barrafina things are a bit more sophisticated, with the restaurant’s 24-cover PDR with views over Regents Canal the perfect place to lose a few hours.
And another thing: The Drop was initially intended to be a bin store, but the Harts decided the space was too good to use for trash. As a consequence, it doesn’t have permission for extraction, which is why the cooked food menu is restricted to a few fried and baked items.