One of my oldest, very best friends is moving to Australia for a year – she’s featured in this blog before, she’s the jamon fiend!
Three of us wanted to go for a final meal in London before her big adventure and we decided that Barrafina might be the place with jamon guaranteed.
However, on arrival it was soon clear that the seating arrangement probably wasn’t suitable for a cosy, goodbye meal.
I always feel like the panic sets in when you’re in Soho without a reservation and it’s past 6.30pm. The queuing situation at so many places is a real pain, and this was a very cold Monday evening, not one for waiting around.
Luckily our friend had spotted Rex & Mariano just around the corner from Barrafina and we were intrigued…
We got a table straight away and were swiftly talked through the service format. This restaurant is one of a growing number which have seen the future, and it involves iPads.
We selected a couple of Aperol Spritzs and a margherita to start which arrived very fast.
Rex & Mariano specialises in seafood and while the menu is quite small, it’s full of delicious-sounding dishes.
We were told to order around 2/3 dishes for our starters and mains and to not do it all at once as it would arrive very quickly.
We chose the tuna tartare, salmon carpaccio and sea bass ceviche for the first round. It came to our table very swiftly.
The portions were a really good size, with plenty to go around the three of us. The tuna was soft and tender on a guacamole which was the perfect balance of lime and chilli.
The sea bass was served in really large chunks which really didn’t need much of a garnish as it spoke for itself.
The salmon was really thinly sliced but came in a bit too much oil and was probably our least favourite of the three. But, they were all really lovely dishes and we cleared the plates.
After a small pause we went back to the iPad and chose four more dishes to share as a main course; the fritto misto, cooked red prawns, grilled artichokes and triple cooked chips.
There were at least four different types of fish in the fritto misto, including prawn and salmon which was unusual but worked. The batter was light and crispy and the aioli had just the right amount of garlic. Again it was a really generous portion.
The prawns were really well cooked with the bodies just slipping out of the heads. I think they could have done with a bit more lemon or garlic on them as they were missing that little extra something.
We decided that we didn’t think the chips were triple cooked as they didn’t seem crunchy enough but that didn’t stop us polishing them all off.
The grilled artichokes looked really lovely on the plate and while it can be a lot of effort to get the meat out of the leaves, it was worth it. We could have done with something to dunk the leaves in but once again we forced them down!
While we started off the night with Rex & Mariano not even on our radar, we all agreed that it had been a great find.
While the iPads replaced the need for staff in some aspects, when we did see humans they were really friendly and helpful.
The restaurant itself has a lovely atmosphere; the tables aren’t too close together and there is lots going on to give it a good buzz.
I can’t wait to take more friends especially as I know we won’t have to wait in the street for a table!