"A cheerful addition to Soho's bars"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
The success of Barrio North in Islington has led to the opening of Barrio Central in Soho, which is positively buzzing with people, even on a Monday night.
Barrio Central’s look is kitsch in the extreme. Miniature suitcases adorn the walls and lampshades which are in fact upside down buckets hang from the ceiling. The bar is narrow and lengthy, with a part porch part conservatory area at the back and another floor downstairs with space to dance, as the venue stays open till 1am.
The warm colours and bright decorations in the bar along with the name (which means ‘central neighbourhood’ in Spanish) suggest a Latin influence, however the cocktail menu – designed as a sleeve cover for a 7inch record – suggests there is more than just Hispanic inspiration here, as it is divided into different regions of the world: Europe & the East, North America, the Caribbean, South America and Central America.
There is plenty to choose from, and the bar prides itself on importing many of its spirits for the most authentic experience. The Mayan Magic cocktail (£8) is a dark chocolate and chilli drink with agave and tequila. The rich chocolate flavour is highly inviting at first but the aftertaste has a real kick thanks to the chilli – delightful for those partial to a little spice.
The Hoodrat (£7.50) is milder, with Zubrowska vodka, vanilla, southern spice and tiny pieces of red pepper which add a fresh taste to the concoction.
On the sweeter end of the spectrum is the Flor de Rita (£7), an extremely saccharine-tasting blend of tequila, vanilla, hibiscus, cherry, and lime. Even more interesting is the Rum and Raisin Swizzle (£7), which contains an actual piece of nutty chocolate floating in the glass. The drink itself contains rum, lychees, berries and rose petals.
Elsewhere on the menu is the No Brainer, the bar’s signature cocktail with tequila, grapefruit, pineapple, guava and champagne, and is served in a Mexican ‘luchador’ or wrestler’s mask.
Food is a similar hotchpotch of cuisines, from quesadillas and nachos to Spanish patatas bravas and jerk chicken. Amongst the starters are halloumi and plantain kebabs, with large chunks of the fruit next to the salty cheese on skewers, and a large mound of chopped fresh tomato on the side.
A plate with various different condiments arrives to accompany the meaty dishes: allioli, a salsa with chopped pieces of fresh of mango, spicy tomato salsa, garlicky guacamole, a zesty pepper salsa with plenty of lime juice, and a cucumber coleslaw ideal for cooling down the palate.
The Barrio sandwich has chunks of pork, slices of chorizo and Monterey cheese stuffed in a baguette. It’s filling comfort food, especially with the accompanying fried potatoes. The beef brisket is served in a tortilla wrap and is a much smaller portion as it comes without a side. Dishes are mostly in the £5 - £6 region.
There is definitely a happy, unpretentious vibe about Barrio Central, no doubt aided by smiley staff and the cheerful décor. A welcome addition to the neighbourhood.
Leila reviewed Barrio Soho on Thu 05 Aug 2010