The Handbook
The Handbook

What? To celebrate World Whisky Day which took place on the 20th May, we headed over to Barbecoa Piccadilly for a little meat and whisky pairing. Whilst the day might have been and gone, they have around 140 whiskies on offer all year round, so any day is a good day for whisky.

New? It opened its doors back in February of this year.

Where? 194 Piccadilly, St. James’s, W1J 9EX,

On the Menu: Meat is the order of the day, it’s all fire and smoke at Barbecoa Piccadilly, with meats being cooked in the open kitchen on all manner of equipment. You’ll find a Japanese robata, Spanish Mibrasa charcoal oven, Argentinian grill, Tandoor oven and a Texan smoker, making it one of the best equipped kitchens in London. That said, if meat isn’t your thing, there is a raw bar and fish dishes too. We’d say start with the likes of chicken wings with hot sauce, blue cheese, roasted peanuts and chives or tea-cured sea trout, followed by St Louis ribs or the pit beef with Westcombe grits, pickled walnuts, watercress and dandelion. Finish with the decadent Snickersphere, described by our Deputy Editor as ‘A dome of creamy, salty, caramelly goodness, with chunky peanuts’. You can read more about what Fran thought here.

First Impressions: Whilst the bar upstairs was relatively quiet, the vast restaurant downstairs (it has 250 covers) was packed, which surely is a good sign. It’s in a prime location and has Jamie Oliver’s name to it so naturally you’d expect it to be busy on a Thursday.

The Look: The restaurant found its home in the former Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours, which was originally opened by the Prince and Princess of Wales back in 1883. Designed by Jamie along with his Director of Design and Developments, Justin Hardy, the restaurant pays homage to its heritage. There’s plenty of dark wood, deep green leather and a marble sweeping staircase which leads down to seriously impressive cabinet of 2,500 wines. Large round hanging lights give it an Art Deco touch. We were eating in the private dining room, The Rose Gray Room (named after Jamie’s original mentor, of the River Cafe) the dark red room is filled with a large table that sits fourteen. One wall is made up of a wine display and others are decked out with photos of chefs that have influenced Jamie.

What We Ate: We started with short rib croquettes, with a spicy Gochujang mayo to dip them in. Next up were sticky creole ribs sprinkled with fresh chilli, served with an equally sticky, smoky BBQ glaze and a fresh, zingy, apple and kohlrabi slaw that cut through the sweetness of the BBQ sauce. Pain de Mie – an indulgent dish of chicken butter, crispy skin and garlic was good, but the best chicken butter award is still undeniably held by Adam Handling, over at The Frog.

Where Barbecoa came into its own was when the meat was brought out – impressive hunks of 16-hour smoked short rib with bone-in-rib-eye which had been aged for eight weeks before being grilled over coal. Perfectly cooked, tender and with a touch of burnt caramel to it, it was absolutely spot on. Accompanying it were sweet roasted root vegetables, creamed spinach and Dauphinoise potatoes, you’ll be full, but you’ll keep just scooping up a little bit of that creamy, unbelievably moreish cheese sauce.

This was followed by a crème brûlée, that was free standing rather than in a pot, it needed a little more crunch to its topping, but it was beautifully silky and rich and prettily decorated with slices of apricot, chamomile and sharp pistachio brittle.

What We Drank: Being a whisky and meat pairing, each dish was paired with a different whisky, showing its versatility. Alongside more familiar whiskies such as a Talisker 10 YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky, there were more unusual pairings such as the Nikka Coffee Grain whisky from Japan that was served with the meat. It had a light finish to it, with a sweet, fruity and, at times, toffee taste to it. Accompanying the Pain de Mie was a punchy Glendalough 7 YO Irish Whiskey and we rounded off with the Berkeley House Blazer, a theatrical cocktail which they set light to, to capture the cedar smoke and blend it with Glenfiddich 15YO, barrel-aged rested Barbecoa bitters and a caramel and port reduction, an ideal accompaniment to cheese.

Go With: A meat and whisky lover of course. Given its central location, it also makes a good place to meet up with friends who live the other side of London to you, or as a good pit stop after a day of London sightseeing.

Final Word: Visiting at lunch time? Then you can get three courses for just £27, which, for central London, is excellent.

Like This? Try These: Hawksmoor Borough, Smith & Wollensky, Barbecoa St Pauls

Barbecoa Piccadilly: 194 Piccadilly, St. James’s, W1J 9EX