Until recently, my only experience of Jamie Oliver’s dining had been an underwhelming visit to a Jamie’s Italian branch a few years ago. It was so disappointing that I’ve never made the effort to visit the Fifteen branch a stone’s throw from my parents house. That said, when I was invited to experience Barbecoa, the UK’s first barbecue steakhouse in London, being the meat lover that I am, I was curious to see what it was all about as I’d never even heard of it.
The whole idea of Barbecoa is that it focuses on dry-ageing, free range and organic produce, with everything either delightfully smoked or cooked over fire. It offers a tantalising range of steak, pulled pork, BBQ meat, ribs & more, they also have one of the biggest whisky collections to be seen in a restaurant. Their £5 cocktail hour from 5-8pm is a crowd pulling pleaser too.
The interior is bold, dark and luxurious, with plenty of brass, exposed dark brick and black matte fixtures. The booths are upholstered with soft, cognac leather, but the main feature is the floor-to-ceiling windows showing off a stunning view of one of London’s most famous landmarks – St Paul’s Cathedral.
We arrived on Sunday at 3pm, and it was so quiet. I love dining in restaurants when they’re quiet, and I realised this was likely due to its location which is in the middle of the city, and heaving with commuters and businessmen and women during the working week. The staff were friendly, very attentive (yet, not intrusive) and we were able to take our time when ordering. I am one of those annoying customers who forgets she’s in a restaurant to actually eat and will be so busy chatting that I always have to send the waiter/waitress away at least twice before I’m ready to place my order, because I’ve barely glanced at the menu.
To start off with, my friend Janice and I ordered a couple of drinks (we boringly stuck to orange juice) and picked the sourdough bread and veal butter. We then both chose the calamari with turmeric and lime pickle mayo for our starters, which was cooked well, not chewy at all and delicious with lime squeezed all over it which added a nice twist instead of the usual lemon.
For the main roast, I chose the slow-cooked pork loin and belly as my favoured lamb option had sold out. Janice opted for the Dry-Aged Scottish Sirloin The other option on the menu was chicken, so it’s not somewhere to bring a veggie if they’re expecting to eat a roast too. The sides of roast potatoes, carrots and broccoli were flavoursome and generous in portion size, as were the Yorkshire puddings. It’s worth noting that the A La Carte is also available on a Sunday too. Barbecoa offer two courses for £27 or you can make it three for £32. They have three options for the roast which change weekly. Sunday Roast specials start from £17.95.
To be honest I was really full after our main course, but for the purpose of the review I was obliged to try the dessert menu. It was a really difficult decision to make(!)
We opted for the Lemon and Meringue Pie, under which lay a blackcurrant curd, delivered on top of a crunchy vanilla shortbread, the moreish Snickersphere with peanut and salted caramel and a refreshing strawberry sorbet and ice cream to share. Out of the three, the Snickersphere was my fave but to be honest, I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed by any of them. As mentioned before, I was truly stuffed by this point, so that may have affected my tastebuds as I could only manage a couple of mouthfuls of each dessert.
I even visited the bathroom and I’m pleased to report it passed the hygiene test. Decked out in sleek dark interior and very clean, it was easy to forget I was in a restaurant and not a private member’s club.
Barbecoa is fairly mid-range in price, not somewhere you’d go every day but not somewhere that would break the bank either – especially if you go on a Sunday with the deal on, it’s good value in my opinion and I’d probably return if it was a dining option.
Barbecoa is located at 20 New Change Passage, London, EC4M 9AG TEL: 020 3005 8555
Nearest Station: St Pauls
***Our meal was complimentary in exchange for a review; but as always, my opinions are solely my own.****