When you walk into Barbecoa in the City of London, the iconic dome and imposing Baroque architecture of St Paul’s Cathedral comes into view; it would be the backdrop for today’s Sunday lunch.
Barbecoa is a meat-focused restaurant founded by English celebrity chef and social foodie campaigner, Jamie Oliver. After Jamie found fame with television appearances and best-selling cook books he set up his first restaurant, Fifteen, where he trained teenagers and young adults for careers in the restaurant industry. Since then Jamie has continued to set up successful restaurants, the most popular being Jamie’s Italian which now has branches across the world.
Fairly recently a Jamie’s Italian opened locally to us and it’s become a bit of a main stay for a local lunch at the weekend – crab spaghetti for me and lamb chops for Mr S. But we were keen to try Barbecoa which promised a more deluxe experience to his famous chain.
The interior of Barbecoa was certainly sexier than our local Jamie’s, the large ‘L’ shaped room was decorated with red leather banquettes, gold surfaces and floor to ceiling windows to make the most of the impressive view of the city.
There’s also two bars (always good thing…) with a varied cocktail list including different variations on the Bloody Mary as well as classics and more inventive cocktails. Barbecoa also boasts the widest range of American whiskies in the UK and a large range of beer and wine.
We started with an aperitif, an Old English for me containing Kamm & Sons, St Geramin, Prosecco and Mint, a light and mildly sweet cocktail that bought back memories of summer. Mr Silver had a forager’s fizz which contained an interesting mix of gin, mrytle and dandelion, lemon and soda, a stronger drink that was softened with the soda.
Barbecoa is actually the Caribbean word for barbecue and as the name suggests, Jamie’s restaurant is a homage to fire-based cooking. Several different barbecue style cooking methods are incorporated in to the menu and Mr S began the meal with the sticky spare ribs. Slow cooked so the meat melted of the bone, they were smothered in smoky barbecue sauce and served with an apple and kohlrabi slaw – though the salad seemed more like a gesture of healthiness next to the epic portion of ribs. I’m afraid I don’t like ribs so I can’t comment on the taste but a delicious sweet, smoky smell filled my nostrils and Mr S devoured them right down to the bone.
I shunned the barbecue, and the cooked food and chose one of my favourites for starter; a tuna and scallop ceviche served with a light salad of radish, chilli, coriander and miyagawa (a citrus fruit). I’m a big fan of Peruvian food and the ceviche was beautifully prepared, with just the right amount of acidity plus I loved the crunch the accompaniments alongside.
Regular readers will know I’m not a big meat eater, and though I don’t avoid it entirely I wouldn’t order a steak for a main course. I chose the prawns from the starter section and I was given a double portion as a main course. Fortunately, I was still able to enjoy the smokey flavour from the fire-based cooking as the prawns are prepared in the tandoor oven. Served with lime pickle yogurt and garlic crisps, it was actually the perfect main course for me to choose and I loved the Indian flavours.
As we were there on a Sunday, Mr S was able to enjoy the Sunday roast. There was a choice of lamb, chicken or beef and he went for the eight-week dry aged BBQ Picanha (a cut of meat popular in Brazil) with burnt onion ketchup. As you can see from the photo, it was cooked perfectly rare and I had a good taster of his delicious melt-in-mouth rump.
The roast came with a vast array of trimmings which we ended up sharing.
As the vegetables were wood-fired they had a tasty bite and slight smokiness to them.
A huge Yorkshire pudding had a tasty crunch but the beef-dripping roast potatoes were quite disappointing. There was no satisfying crunch on the crust of them, they were a little soft and perhaps needed more fat to crisp them up.
We broke through the crisp surface of the mac & cheese to find gooey, creamy sauce and pasta with just the right amount of bite.
We opted to share desserts and chose apple & custard brioche with hazelnut crumble along with a trio of ice creams including Tuscan chocolate, Tahitian vanilla and blackberry sorbet. I have to say I thought presentation was a little odd, both desserts were presented on a slate which I thought was a little impractical especially for pouring the custard over the brioche. The brioche itself was a little hard and I probably would have preferred a standard crumble.
Though we were there at the weekend, I can imagine Barbecoa would be a huge hit for weekday City diners with a great choice for the cuts of meat, a wide ranging drinks menu…and of course THAT view!
20 New Change Passage
020 3005 8555
Our food was complimentary.