A Family Affair
The road that eventually led London restauranteurs the Hart Brothers to Coal Drops Yard in 2018 stretches from 1990s Mexico City by way of Barcelona in a long meandering journey that takes in plenty of scenic spots and culinary by-roads along the way.
Their first London restaurant, Fino, which opened in Fitzrovia in 2003, drew on key influences from Spain. But it was the Mexican capital where Sam and Eddie Hart first cut their hospitality teeth – at the suitably named nightclub El Colmillo (the Fang) – and where the pair fell in love with the city’s street food scene. And then came Barrafina.
The Soho tapas bar was an instant hit when it opened on Frith Street in 2007. Diners and professional foodies alike fell for its charms, happily queuing for a stool at its bar-top counter (Barrafina was an early proponent of the no-bookings policy that went on to sweep through the capital’s restaurant scene in the Noughties) in the manner of the legendary Barcelona restaurant that inspired it, Cal Pep.
Like the Hart Brothers themselves, Barrafina has since gone from strength to strength (not least scooping a Michelin star in 2015). There are now four across central London, including its most recent opening at Coal Drops Yard. Along the way, the team’s magic touch restored Quo Vadis (the site of which was home to Karl Marx in the 1850s while writing Das Kapital) to its rightful place as a Soho institution under Jeremy Lee’s superb culinary direction. And that early passion for authentic tacos al pastor founded in their Mexico City years? That eventually found an outlet in the opening of celebrated tacqueria El Pastor in Borough in 2017.
But it’s Coal Drops Yard that has become the team’s latter-day alma mater – home to that super-size Barrafina, a scaled-up El Pastor (Casa/Plaza Pastor) and the small(er) but perfectly formed wine bar, The Drop, as well as more recent opening, Spanish-style grill, Parrillan.