Thursday, August 22, 2013

Barrio East, 10th August

I had a great time at Barrio East last week for my birthday and from the sounds of it, so did everyone else. There were a couple of things that made me pause for thought but mostly the evening was a success.

Firstly, I'd enquired about booking an area for about 30 people. They didn't have anywhere big enough available (or perhaps big enough period) but I was given some tables in the 'Timber Room' that could seat 12 comfortably. I figured that would be fine - and it was. We just needed somewhere to stash our stuff and where we could sit to eat if anyone ordered food. I wanted people to mingle so didn't really want somewhere everyone would be sitting the whole night.

Also, I wanted to book it from 7 pm but I could only reserve from 8. Again, this didn't turn out to be a problem as when we got there at 7, no one was using our table so we just claimed it straight away. Apparently my boyfriend and a couple of people were asked a few times while I was at the bar if they knew the area was reserved and they were like, yes - for us! But I guess that would have been good had there been usurpers.

I got there at about 7:15 and was asked whether I had a reservation and if all of my party was with me. I explained that my reservation wasn't until 8 anyway and they just let us in but it did make me wonder what they would have said if I had turned up with only the four of us at 8 with everyone else to come. After all, most parties don't arrive en masse at the first port of call.

I'd been told there was a £250 minimum spend which I was a little worried about. Not worried about spending that much - I knew me and my friends would easily pass that target, just about the bar knowing it was my party that was spending it. It did all get a big confusing - they suggested we all stay at the table and let the waitress take our orders so they knew to which party the tab belonged, but the waitress barely ever came over so everyone started ordering at the bar and I was worried the system might fail. But the guy behind the bar said that, to be honest, they only tend to strictly enforce the minimum spend when it's obvious someone hasn't brought along as many people as they'd promised. Considering there were probably at least 30 people in there that could say they were there for my birthday, I didn't have to worry about that!

Revellers on the dance floor
A few of us got food at various points of the evening. I got the reina pepida I'd spied when I first looked at the menu though it turned out to be completely different to what I'd imagined. I thought it would be a single roll, a bit like a burger but instead it was about five mini rolls, with chicken and avocado in them. They were tasty but the cornbread was a little dry. Luckily my friend's tacos came with salsa that she didn't want so I nicked that. Would really suggest they include that as standard. They also missed off my order but I'm happy to report that they took it off the bill when they brought it which I always think is nice (even if I kind of expect some sort of gesture like that). The food isn't really what you go to Barrio East for - it's just something fun and easy to eat while you're drinking the cocktails, of which I had several, mostly from the happy hour list - we took full advantage of that.

I think it is brilliant of them that they have a happy hour every single day from 4 until 8pm, when you can get cocktails for £4.95. They had a couple of classics (like the mojito I had) and a couple of more interesting, fruity numbers (which I also had). I started with a Pitufina - tequila, lychee and passion fruit, and followed that with a Hawaii-n-dry - vodka, grapefruit and guava. Very tropical!

I was worried the night was going to get crazy busy and my late-arriving friends wouldn't get in but there didn't seem to be any real problems. I think one girl had to wait in line for a bit which was a little cheeky. It was busy inside but not rammed - the area we were seated at in fact became quite empty later on in the night as people moved to the dance floor.

I'm afraid I don't remember much of what was played, other than it made me want to dance, and dance a lot, and that's all that matters really. The brave amongst us were already dancing by around 10:30 and the rest of us soon joined them until at some point we decamped to that old chestnut - Ye Olde Axe.

So yes, just happy memories from the night, I think this is a good place to go for a large crowd - it was mainstream but not too cheesy, had a good atmosphere, just seemed to be about having a good time. Thanks guys!

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Please feel free to add your views, or maybe suggest somewhere I should put on my list!