We were invited to Barrio East, the new restaurant in the Barrio chain, which has just opened in Shoreditch. We have been for happy hour in the Soho establishment but it never crossed our minds that they would do food in the happy hour rush.
Anyway we had an invite for brunch – Barrio East is a Latin American joint that tries to capture the enthusiasm, honesty and colour that is associated with this continent.
As we walked in we were welcomed by a waiter who seated us in a little alcove. There is a long room that hosts the bar and a few seats for revellers in the evenings and then a room at the front that overlooks Shoreditch high street. The restaurant has an obvious Latin American themed decor with festive, bright colours, flowers and bamboo creating a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Don’t let my description make you think of a tacky cheap chain restaurant – Barrio East somehow pulls this off into a fun yet stylish place to eat and drink.
Our waiter was from the East London set; very cool yet a little inexperienced with his knowledge of menu and laid back manner. But what I liked was the fact that there was a mix of experiences and ages in the waiters who checked up on customers and clearly worked very well together. This added to the relaxed atmosphere and is a good way to train up inexperienced waiters.
We were given our menus and were impressed by the juice menu (yes reader I said juices- it was not yet 1pm and more on that later). I ordered something with passion fruit batilda – I had no clue what this was but sounded lovely and my friend ordered the aqua fresha – even the waiter had issues explaining what this consisted of. I had expected a juice type of drink but my friend (who had read the menu more thoroughly) informed me that my choice was with dehydrated milk – I do not like creamy / milky drinks so fortunately my friend said I could have his. His aqua fresha was delicious (they had ran out of the melon juice fortunately for me so we had ordered the pineapple) and was really refreshing; sour and delicious. The dehydrated passion fruit drink was sour yet fruity and worked well although not for my taste.
We ordered the chivito sandwich, which consisted of thin rump steak, bacon, cheese, red peppers, onions and a fried egg in a sandwich served with herbed potatoes (not the diet option obviously) and the poached eggs with smoked salmon and toasted muffin serve with hollandaise. For the poached eggs and hollandaise I didn’t want the English muffin and asked for mushrooms instead; this was no hassle for the waiters who quickly registered my request.
I was a little nervous of the Latin American cuisine as a brunch option but when the dishes came out I was instantly converted. My poached eggs were huge served on the bed of mushrooms and pink flesh of the salmon. When I cut into the eggs the yellow goo just burst out and was bright orange. The hollandaise was creamy yet not overly rich and just covered the eggs enough to get a taste with every bite but not enough to make the dish swim in it. One of the best eggs royale (without the muffin I admit) I have had in a long time.
The sandwich came out at the same time and I have to say the word ‘sandwich’ rather undersells this dish. The steak was served in a crusty bar with melting cheese oozing out of the sizes, the bacon was a little fatty for my liking but if you go for this option this would hardly be a consideration I admit. The steak I was worried would be over cooked but it was still slightly pink in the middle with a fried eggs with a runny yolk intact on the top. The presentation is worth a mention too as the bap top lent on the tower nonchalantly and was served with roasted square potatoes. Needless to say we managed to mop the whole lot up and were very satisfied (the Latin American interpretations were better than the original English versions I have to say in some dishes.)
Stuffed we were informed that we should try a bloody Mary, as this place prides itself on these for brunch– unfortunately neither of us like tomato juice but we were informed there was a non tomato bloody Mary. We looked at each other and shrugged a ‘why not’ and hoped for the best.
Our non tomato ‘bloody Mary came out with a stick of celery (this is one of my food hells) but looked extremely refreshing; served in a high ball glass with a lime coloured liquid served over ice. I decided to be the first to brave it and I have to say (and please don’t judge me on this) it did taste like a bloody Mary! I know that sounds strange but whatever ingredients were in it (I am still unsure despite looking at the menu time) it was zingy, fresh and packed a punch.
We walked out of the restaurant; full, satisfied and a little woozy after only half a cocktail each. I am really pleased we tried Barrio East as a brunch location as I certainly wouldn’t have considered Latin American for brunch, yet we will definitely be going back in the near future. As a result Sex Drugs and Bacon Rolls gives Barrio East:
Food Atmosphere Service