There is absolutely nothing conventional about the experience of dining at The Man Behind the Curtain. It is avant-garde in every sense: in name, décor, location, people, ambient music and of course, the food. You just have to visit their site’s homepage to get a feel for what I mean – there is a cat with an astronaut helmet floating in space next to a giant open mouth with a man’s face inside and some other strange elements scattered around. Got the idea yet? Me neither.
I had read and heard really good things about Barrafina. And it has two major pluses for me: it serves Spanish tapas and it’s in Soho. I LOVE Soho. And I love Spanish tapas too! But my experience with tapas in England has been mixed. To be quite frank, good tapas are in Spain. I think the disappointment with tapas in England stems from two main things: an adulteration of the original to fit the local taste (which is a well-known phenomenon across many foreign cuisines in this country) and a lack of ingredients as they come in those countries – ripened under much more sunshine and considerably higher temperatures throughout the year. The tomatoes here are not the same, the garlic is not the same, the onions, the potatoes, you get the idea. And so the food can’t really taste the same. Especially if we are talking about food that is simple. A lot of the dishes you eat in Spain (and Italy, for example) are prepared with only a handful of ingredients. You can, however, get very close here and there are a few examples in London. Barrafina is undoubtedly one of them. And Barrafina is more than that. It has elevated the humble tapa to something a bit more glitzy and upmarket, and still managed to keep it delicious.
Homemade pizza is great. Super-easy homemade pizza is even better! I know making pizza dough can be fun and it feels great to make pizzas from scratch (and if you have a bread-making machine you can have it kneading the dough for you). However, if you want the simplest of pizza bases and want it quick, try using bagels.