Smoked, grilled or roasted, it's meat, meat and more meat at Jamie's Barbecoa
“Barbecoa is a celebration of traditional fire-based cooking and incredible ingredients. founded by Jamie Oliver, it’s much more than a steak restaurant. Our in-house butchers handpick and prepare the very best meat in Britain, then our chefs cook beautiful modern dishes using Texas pit smokers, Tandoors, Fire Pits, Robata Grills and Wood-Fired Ovens.”
My brother (Darren) and his better half (Alex) seem to know what they’re doing every weekend until 2016 so it’s quite hard to meet up with them. Luckily, when we do get a date in the diary, it usually involves food! This time we were off to Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa by St. Paul’s Cathedral. We met for a drink beforehand at the nearby Paternoster, which is probably packed during the week but being a Saturday, in the City, it was empty and they rang the bell for last orders at 19:00…!
As we got within sight of Barbecoa, which is part of the One New Change complex, we were hit by a wall of delicious BBQ smells and couldn’t wait to get inside. You enter on the ground floor where there is a small bar and staff to take your coats before they send you upstairs. Once upstairs you realise that the restaurant covers a lot of square footage but because the dining area runs around three sides of a central, open kitchen it never feels too big. The restaurant is dark, the decor is classy and there are floor to ceiling windows pretty much everywhere you look. Very cool.
We got straight down to ordering some drinks from the cocktail menu. Alex had a classic Mojito (£9.50), Antonia ordered a Porn Star (£10.50), which was full of passion fruit and came with a shot of Prosecco to either pour in or have on it’s own. Darren had a Bloody Barby – smoked jalapeno infused Vodka with a spicy tomato mix, which came with a rasher of smoky bacon & a gherkin (£9.50) and I had a Grande Kentucky – Bourbon, sugar & Peychaud’s bitters (£9). All pretty delicious!
The food menu is very meat heavy with no fish or vegetarian options for the main course. The starters section has a few seafood options like Calamari, Scallops and the Chargrilled Wild Tiger Prawns w/ Flamed Mango Salsa (£13) which we ordered and were delicious. I’m a fan of Pork Scratchings and insisted we get a portion, which came with a subtle Apple & Thyme Sauce (£4). They were quite disappointing though, very crispy as you’d expect but massively under seasoned and if anything, a little bland. We also ordered the Pit-Smoked Baby Back Ribs w/ Coriander & Chilli (£10) which were stunning and a portion of Crispy Pig Cheeks w/ Piccalilli, Chive & Lamb’s Lettuce Salad (£9). The pig cheeks were fine but I much preferred the way Pitt Cue do them – deep fried in a crispy batter.
Almost half of the main course options are steak – T-Bone, Rump, Fillet, Sirloin of Rib-Eye for two. They’re all very expensive… more than Hawksmoor in fact but that didn’t stop Alex and I. She opted for the 225g Fillet Steak w/ Bone Marrow, Smoked Béarnaise, Shallot & Herb Salad (£35) and I had the 320g Dry-Aged Sirloin Steak w/ Bourbon Green Peppercorn Sauce & Sticky Roasted Red Onions (£32). The fillet was delicious and beautifully tender as you’d expect. It was definitely nearer to rare than the medium-rare Alex had asked for though. My sirloin was tasty but not exceptional and I’m not sure how I feel about spending that much money on one piece of meat, especially when it was literally a piece of meat on a plate with no accompaniments. Is it really too great an expense to include a side in the price…?
This excess was balanced out by Darren’s Pulled Pork Shoulder w/ Waffle, BBQ Sauce & Coleslaw (£17) and Antonia’s Pit Beef w/ Smoky Baked Beans (£16). Both of these were superb, especially the Pit Beef and considering they were pretty much half the price of the steaks I’ll certainly be having one of them next time. We ordered two portions of Duck Fat Chips w/ Volpaia Vinegar & Salt (£4) and a Baby Gem Salad (£5) as well. There’s a lack of simple veg sides here and we actually asked for the salad to come without the creamy bacon dressing.
If you’re in to your wine, want to spend a bit of money and want some advice, there is a sommelier on hand to help you but as everything he recommended to us was over £60 we opted for the perfectly tasty Marquis de la Prade Merlot VdP d’Oc, 2011 at £26 a bottle instead.
To finish we shared a Warm Pecan, Maple & Bourbon Pie w/ Bourbon Ice Cream & Spicy Caramel (£8) and had a few tipples to wash it down with including a lovely, warming Davey’s 1815 – Warm Rum, Cognac, Demerara Sugar & Dark Lager (£9.50) and a measure of Macallan 12 (£10).
Barbecoa is a cool place and the ambience is just right for a relaxed meal out. The staff were all excellent, knowledgeable and patient, which is important when you’re as indecisive as Antonia is. We went a bit overboard but I think you can have a really good meal here for £45 a head if you stay clear of the steaks, which I think dominate the menu too much and just aren’t worth the money.
All in all, a good experience and I’ll be back soon.
|Baby Back Ribs||£10.00|
|Crispy Pig Cheeks||£9.00|
|Duck Fat Chips x 2||£4.00 each|
|Baby Gem Salad||£5.00|
|Pecan, Maple & Bourbon Pie||£8.00|
20 New Change Passage,
City of London,
London EC4M 9AG