Barrio Central in Soho
Soho is a tricky one to crack for drinking. If you want to be able to hear, have clean feet and a penny or two left over at the end of the night then you’re gonna be hard pushed to find somewhere. Essentially, you can’t be too fussy. Barrio Central offers that perfect middle ground between sticky pubs, swanky bars and garish clubs. After a slick refurbishment of both wallsmenu and wallsmenu, it’s now a strong contestant for a Soho night out.
There’s a Mexican influence throughout, which gives the place something to hold onto and play with. Think Day of the Dead and palm leaves for the decor and smoky, salty food balanced with zesty, fresh cocktails. Dishes are small, shareable and very drink friendly. Options are standard Mexican affair: tacos, quesadillas and ceviche paired with sides such as corn on the cob and sweet potato fries. Despite being a late- night venue, with DJs playing at least twice a week, the food is not overlooked. Homemade tortillas, garnishes such as ten-day-cured egg yolk and a well-concentrated tomato sauce reveal the care put into it, and that’s just for the lamb chilli tacos.
Elsewhere, salty sweet potato fries, with lime and garlic mayo cutting through, are well seasoned and citrussy but lacking in a garlic smack –they will, however, be your best friend after a couple of smoky Ol’ Dirty Bastard cocktails of Santa Teresa rum, Four Roses bourbon and orange). Guacamole comes in hearty, chunky portions and, with a good ratio of avocado, chilli and coriander.
The Chicharrón Mixto (pork done three ways) is well spiced but distinctly lacking in pork flavour; combined with the blandness of the fish in the ceviche, this suggests badly sourced ingredients. However, the blend of taste and textures in both of these dishes is pleasing and well-thought out.
The cocktail menu shows similar qualities. There’s an emphasis on fresh flavours, such as elderflower, jasmine, ginger and lemon, with homemade syrups and Latin American sourced spirits. As is the case with all good bars, their rum cocktail (the Rumshackle) is the stand-out, easy-drinking one to watch out for.
By no means novel, attention-grabbing or innovative, Barrio is nonetheless a safe, easy option for friendly drinks. Full of flavours, colours, warmth and value, it’s a reliable hit.★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
To book a table at Barrio Central, 6 Poland Street, W1F 8PS, call 02077493940 or enquire here.