What? Jamie Oliver’s original barbecue and smokehouse, Barbecoa is a restaurant making the most of traditional fired-based cooking through the use of Texas pit smokers, an Argentine grill, Japanese robata grill, tandoor and wood-fired oven. It’s also big on whiskies, having one of the largest collections in London.
New? It opened back in 2010, it was then followed by Barbecoa Piccadilly, earlier this year.
Where? 20 New Change Passage, St Pauls, EC4M 9AG, www.barbecoa.com
On the Menu: Whilst Barbecoa might be a restaurant best known for its cuts of meat, smoking and barbecuing, it’s not all about the beef. To start you’ll find dishes of calamari with ginger, chilli, spring onion and lime and tea-cured sea trout with cucumber salad, lovage, horseradish and crème fraiche. Main courses are more adventurous than just steaks too, you’ll find wood-roasted artichoke with toasted barley, summer squash and smoked tomato (yes, an actual vegetarian dish which isn’t mushroom risotto or goats cheese tart); Creedy-carver chicken, jerk spiced mango and Scotch Bonnets. Sides include broccoli with miso almonds, truffled mac and cheese and roasted carrot with spices and crème fraiche. To drink there’s an extensive wine list with a focus on Italian and French bottles, but also an adventurous strong cocktail list.
The Look: Slicker than it’s Piccadilly counter- part, Barbecoa St Pauls is all burnt orange banquettes, geometric shapes, bold pendant lighting, stone grey floors and muted gold columns. The open kitchen curves round one side and walls are lined with bottles of whisky, but it’s the large floor to ceiling windows that draw your attention, giving you views of the iconic St Pauls.
What We Ate: To start there is coal-seared beef carpaccio with broad beans and tarragon. The beef, so thin there’s almost a creaminess to it, there’s a sharpness from bitter leaves, but it’s offset by Berskwell, a hard sheep’s cheese from the Midlands, whilst a pretty dish of prawns and scallops is given kick with a rose and saffron harissa.
A perfectly cooked rib-eye steak is finished with summer herbs and capers and anchovies, giving a saltiness that works well with the beef. Pit beef, is devilishly good, so tender it fell straight off the bone, its covered in a sticky, shiny, sugar glaze that somewhat steals the show, served with Westcombe grits, watercress and pickled walnuts just to give it some crunch. Mash potato is good, mash potato with burnt ends and gravy is next level and is the definition of comfort food.
For pudding, it had to be the Snickersphere – a chocolate dome full of peanuts, popping candy and salted caramel, it might be named after a certain chocolate bar, no prizes for guessing which, but it’s so much more. Liquid caramel is accompanied by chocolate, vanilla and peanut praline and a buttermilk sorbet cuts through the richness. If you can’t decide what to order then the Sweet Treats gives you a little bit of everything from a mini pavlova and half a Snickersphere to a crème brûlée and mini macarons. It’s a lot so get it to share, unless you have a particularly sweet tooth.
What We Drank: Tough day? Then, The Old Smokey will take the edge off any nightmares at work, made from Bohea Lapsang Rum, Mandarin Napoleon and finished with lemon peel, it’s got a rounded, smokey (as the name suggests) warmth to it. Like your cocktails with a bit of a kick to them? Then Salty Dog’s Gimlet is an acquired taste, but fortune favours the bold. It’s made from Navy Strength Gin, salt and gunpowder and lime cordial and garnished with seaweed – it’s is rather like drinking citrusy seawater, but there’s something strangely addictive about it. When it came to the wine we ordered a bottle of Kaiken Mai Malbec 2013 – a rich full-bodied red.
Go With: Being close to the city you’re obviously going to get your city workers coming in to chat deals, drink too much wine and eat steaks, that said it also makes for a good date venue (try and get a table with a view of St Pauls) the only thing that would help is having a penchant for good meat.
Final Word: Celebrity chef restaurants can be seen to be gimmicky, playing on their name alone and whilst to some extent you might be tempted to try Barbecoa because of its association with Jamie Oliver, he proves that this restaurant is no gimmick and should be taken seriously, it has after all survived seven years in this city, which is no mean feat.
Barbecoa St Pauls: 20 New Change Passage, St Pauls, EC4M 9AG
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