Posted on Monday, 4th January 2016
BARBECOA BY JAMIE OLIVER
Named after the Caribbean word for barbecue, Barbecoa by Jamie Oliver is a barbecue steakhouse to satisfy even the most diehard of meat lovers. Founded by both Jamie Oliver and award-winning American barbecue chef and author Adam Perry Lang, Barbecoa boasts of luscious cuts of beef, roasts, pulled pork, ribs, smoked beer-can chicken, but to name a few. The menu is then rounded off by a plentiful assortment of starters, sides and desserts. The meat is prepared using a variety of modern barbecue methods – Texas pit smokers, tandoors, fire pits, robata grills and wood-fired ovens. Moreover, the beef is handpicked and dry aged for up to 70 days by the restaurant’s own in-house butchers (there is a Barbecoa butchery downstairs that sells to the public). Barbecoa also boasts of the widest range of American whiskies in the UK and also offers a list of global wines, American and British beers and an assortment of cocktails.
Barbecoa is every city slicker’s dream. Sleek, well appointed and decidedly modern, the restaurant plays to your appetite with its open kitchen where all the different types of meat, cooking merrily away, are on display and for all to see. But perhaps the most impressive view is that of St Paul’s Cathedral. Barbecoa is perched next to this striking London landmark and offers a perspective like no other – a view that one deserves to enjoy with a cocktail. P chose the Long Islay Iced Tea (£9.50) with Islay Whisky and I went for the Peach Ni-Ti (£10.50) with Matcha-Infused Cucumber Gin, Peach, Lychee, Lemon and Egg White. St Paul’s was breathtaking, but the cocktails were less impressive, particularly the Peach Ni-Ti which needed much more acidity to lift it from its borderline blandness.
We began our meal with the Devil’s Cornbread with Westcombe Cheddar and ‘Nduja (£5). The cornbread was unlike any I had ever tried and exceeded every expectation. Simply put, it was just fabulous. The combination of the flavoursome, gooey, melted cheese, with the hint of spiciness coming through from the smoky porky flavour of the ‘Nduja and the wholesomeness of the cornbread proved to be a genius combination. The cheese had formed a slight crust around the rim of the cast-iron plate, which added a lovely crunchy texture to the dish. This is one plate I would definitely order again.
Sticky Spare Ribs with Smoky Barbecue Sauce (£9) was meltingly tender, succulent and very juicy. These were also delicious although I wished there had been more sauce to go with it. Eventually we did ask for the waiter for more sauce so problem solved. This was yet another dish that I would order again.
The Crispy Calamari with Smoked Red Pepper and Chilli Romesco (£11) was respectable, but I didn’t love this as much as the plates that preceded it. The calamari was reasonably tender and tasty, but the batter didn’t hold together very well so it seemed to disintegrate away from the calamari, although this could have been the intention of the chef. It also needed a touch more seasoning. As for the red pepper and chilli romesco, this was very nicely done and I adored its nuttiness as well as its sweetness.
Moving onto the main course, we could not help but order the Chateaubriand for Two (£75) with truffle butter. The meat was wonderfully tender and cooked to a perfect pinkness. I particularly enjoyed the charred flavour on the outside of the flesh, and the truffle butter was a nice accompaniment for the beef.
Truffled Mac and Cheese with a Gruyère Crumble and Ivy Farm Cream (£7) was a little on the bland side. There was not enough truffle flavour or cheesy richness, and in all, I found this to be a rather boring version of mac and cheese. Beef-dripping Chips (£5) were tasty, and came with a volpaia vinegar dip.
Moving onto dessert, and went for two items very North American in concept, a Snickersphere (£9.50), with peanuts and salted caramel, and a Pecan, Bourbon and Bacon sundae (£8). Both desserts were very enjoyable, moreish and satisfying. The Snickersphere was decidedly nutty with a lovely flavour of caramel and chocolate. It was very rich, but also delicious. The sundae was also a winner with the crunchiness of the pecans contrasting well with the saltiness of the bacon and the hint of the bourbon. All these elements combined beautifully with the soft creaminess of the ice cream.
The whole Barbecoa experience was very well conceived. There were some true highlights, from the cornbread to the ribs to the chateaubriand. The desserts were also a delight, and for those dishes that weren’t as successful, I couldn’t really say that they were bad, just not as good as those dishes that won me over. The service was attentive and polished, so overall Barbecoa gets the thumbs up from me.
1. The devil’s cornbread was simply fabulous.
2. the sticky ribs.
3. The chateaubriand.
4. The desserts.
5. Great views.
6. All around solid experience.
1. The mac and cheese could have been tastier.
2. The Peach Tea-Ni cocktail needed more acidity.
Food rating: 3.75/5
Service rating: 3.5/5
Prices: £35 to £63