Restaurant Review: The Barbary, Covent Garden

The Barbary


Have you heard of the Barbary?

I ask my friends and they say no. That’s because most normal people with normal jobs don’t have the time to follow every new restaurant opening and decipher which ones are awesome – and which are obviously money laundering schemes. That’s where us bloggers come in. (After bingeing through Ozark season 1 I now suspect money laundering. Everywhere.)

I follow hundreds of different blogs and online magazines so when I see a restaurant pop up in the reviews a few dozen times, I get interested. Recently, I’ve written blog posts on Bao London, Bob Bob Ricard, StreetXO, The Barbary, and XU London, which have all received my blogger’s stamp of approval. More than that, they are unique restaurants bringing something new and different to London’s incredibly diverse food scene. These are real finds.

Small confession, I found out about the Barbary before I’d heard of the Palomar. Palomar is the Barbary’s big sister, which opened three years. It’s super popular and highly instagrammable. I’m making it a priority to check it out asap.


Dinner is Walk-ins only

It helps to know a couple of restaurants that don’t do reservations for those last minute plans or times when everything is fully booked. And I don’t mean Nando’s (even though I love it). You can add the Barbary to your list of other walk-ins, such as Smoking Goat, Bao Soho, Spuntino, Homeslice… The Barbary take bookings for lunch, while dinner is walk-ins only.


The Barbary London


The vibe

The restaurant is small, seating just 24 people in one single room with a bar-like open-kitchen smack in the centre. Diners sit on backless bar stools facing the culinary action, limiting the age group to over 10s and under 60s. It works best in groups of 2 or 3, as it’s hard to hold a conversation between four people sat side by side.


The food

The menu is beautifully simple. First decide whether you want naan bread or a sesame-encrusted bagel, or both. I came with a friend and we split a beautifully crafted, buttered and salted naan between the two of us.


The Barbary Naan


Next, choose some dips. Their chicken livers dip and baba ghanoush are both heavenly.


The Barbary Dips


Order grilled fish, meat or vegetables for your mains, and definitely go for their dish of the day. We ordered prawns and chicken and devoured them both.


The Barbary Prawns

The Barbary Chicken


On my visit, they also had these fish cigars and mouthwatering watermelone with mint, almonds, and yogurt.


The Barbary Fish Cigars

The Barbary Watermelon


The cuisine uses a lot of Mediterranean inspired ingredients such as olive oil, garlic, aubergines and yoghurt as well as North African and Middle Eastern flavours like tahini, mint and chickpeas, with the obvious overlaps between the two.

No matter how full you are, if you’re not a dessert person, save it, sister, you’d be crazy not to order the Knafeh, a cheese pastry with syrup. It’s to die for. I am a savoury person but this was actually my favourite dish of them all which is crazy because the food here is super good.


The Barbary Knafeh


The drinks

Another highlight is that they offer most of their wines by the carafe, which is perfect for a midweek dinner that will save you the type of morning brain one gets after half a bottle.


The Barbary Wine


The verdict

I ask my friends again if they’ve heard about the Barbary and I get a different response. Since I get asked a lot now where I recommend eating I always change my answer to reflect what I’ve just discovered. The Barbary, I’ve been saying for weeks. “We just tried the Barbary” they now tell me. “It’s incredible.” You’re welcome, guys. You are very, very welcome. 



Lara Olivia
Lara Olivia

Freelance writer and blogger obsessed with food, travel and good stories.

Find me on: Web | Twitter | Facebook


  1. Jane Lee
    23 August 2017 / 2:15 pm

    Looks delicious! I must try 🙂

    • 23 August 2017 / 3:29 pm

      Let’s go to Palomar together!

  2. Alice
    16 August 2017 / 10:10 pm

    This place look so cool, but strange that they don’t take dinner bookings! Surely it would be a lovely place for a group meal

    Alice | Dainty Alice

  3. 16 August 2017 / 1:50 pm

    I’ve got a thing about sitting at the bar, it always feels more immediate and intimate than sitting at a table, for some really strange reason. Must originate from my pub-loving ways. But what I really love is when places don’t try and reinvent the wheel but produce tried and tested combinations, well executed and with their own spin. These dishes look amazing, the naan especially. Going on my must-eat-at list immediately!
    Katja xxx

  4. 16 August 2017 / 12:49 pm

    I’m going down to London next week so I’ll have to check this place out, it looks incredible! My mouth is watering at the descriptions and photos of all the food!
    Emily xx

  5. 16 August 2017 / 10:20 am

    That is absolutely delicious! Love the tip to opt for the meal of the day.

  6. 16 August 2017 / 5:26 am

    I drooled over the food pictures! XD Amazing place indeed! It is great that you have such amazing places to suggest, I am always the one confused if I ever go out to eat. XD

  7. Meghna
    15 August 2017 / 6:43 pm

    Bookmarked for my next trip to London. Thank you.

    • 15 August 2017 / 7:11 pm

      You’re welcome, I hope you like it! London has too many places to suggest, you can’t go far wrong. Neal’s Yard, Kingly Street and St Christopher’s Place are nice little foodie hubs that will spoil you with choices.

    • 15 August 2017 / 7:01 pm

      Definitely, you can try food from all around the world now without leaving zone 2!

  8. 15 August 2017 / 4:55 pm

    The food looks super delicious! I don’t usually go to restaurants as I can’t find anything to eat from the menu (I’m way too picky) but I love reading different reviews 🙂

    • 15 August 2017 / 7:05 pm

      Oh no, sounds like you’re missing out on some good food out there! It takes a bit of time to acquire new tastes, but eventually the palate adjusts. I used to hate so many things that have funnily enough become my favourite foods, olives, blue cheese, sushi, smoothies!

    • 15 August 2017 / 7:06 pm

      The naan could not have been better. I was really impressed by the quality of this place. Highly recommend!

    • 15 August 2017 / 7:08 pm

      Hahaha I always bring up Nandos because there was a time when that was my go-to restaurant… I was a student! The Barbary is value for money and yes, far superior to Nandos! 😛 Hope you like it.

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