20 New Change, City of London, EC4M 9AG
I. Love. Meat. I could never be a Vegetarian (bar that time when I was 14 because I thought it would make me cool and interesting but then McDonalds cracked me) so when I was invited along to basically eat meat at Barbecoa* – Jamie Oliver’s traditional fire-based meat fest of a restaurant – I was practically skipping there with steak knife in hand (very dangerous, don’t try at home)
As the Beard and I walked onto the restaurant floor last Thursday evening, the first thing we noticed, it’s basically impossible not to, is the absolutely stunning view of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Wow. The restaurant’s romantic dim lighting emphasises this beautiful Baroque Church and steals your breath as you enter the room.
A view like that needs a glass of wine to go with it. As we took our seats on a comfy corner booth facing the Cathedral our waitress brought over the menus. We predicted we would both be ordering steaks, so when it came to wine we decided to go for red. I’ve never been a red wine drinker, but over the past few weeks I’ve really taken a liking to it – I swear my taste buds are maturing as I edge closer to 30.
Knowing nothing about red wine and being the type of people who are easily pleased when it comes to alcohol, the Beard and I ordered a Carafe of the 2014 Les Vignes de L’Eglise Vermentino which was £16, and throughout the evening we enjoyed a further two more.
For our starters we decided to share some bits. We originally ordered the Pork Scratchings (£5) as well as some Olives (£4) from the Nibbles Menu, along with Sticky Spare Ribs (£9) from the Starter Menu. However, our lovely waitress Shanni – a long-time employee of Jamie Oliver and one of the original wait staff at Fifteen – recommended that if we were opting for the Pork Scratchings and Sticky Ribs, to ditch the Olives and instead go for the Tandoori Naan bread with Cornish Sea Salt (£4) as it would compliment the others exceptionally. Sold!
The Pork Scratchings were tasty enough, fatty and soft on one side and crunchy on the other, and were served with a little pot of delicious Barbecue Apple Ketchup. But I have to be honest, they were more for the Beard, he loves Pork Scratchings whereas I’m not fussed, I ate maybe four or five and then donated the rest to him (much to his delight). Although I will say, I loved the presentation.
The Naan bread and Sticky Spare Ribs arrived next and thus began my evening of low murmuring foodgasms and constantly saying to the Beard ‘Mmmmmmmm, sooooooo good.’ The super soft Naan bread that stretched as you pulled it apart was easily the most delicious Naan bread I’ve ever tasted. Okay, so I don’t necessarily eat a lot of Naan bread, but this doughy starter was seriously yummy and came with a good-sized dollop of soft and creamy butter.
Eating the Naan alongside the Sticky Ribs was indeed a perfect combination, the ribs being incredibly succulent and tasty – I’m not a fan of messy food, but for ribs I can always make an exception! Smothered in a smoky barbecue sauce and served with an Apple & Kohlrabi slaw, we were in Heaven eating this dish. I rotated between eating straight from the bone, to adding chunks of it on top of the Naan along with the slaw. I was struggling to control myself, shovelling the succulent meat into my mouth as if it was going to be taken away from me. I had to remind myself that I had more meat to come, a whole other course in fact, and so I gave my last chunk to the Beard in an attempt to leave some room for my next course.
Next up – the mains. Steaks obvs. The Beard ordered the Sirloin Steak, Medium-Rare (£35/12oz) served with Slow-Roasted Tomatoes, whilst I ordered the Fillet Steak, Rare (£32/8oz) served with Bone Marrow, Smoked Béarnaise and a Herb Salad. We ordered two sides; Beef-Dripping Chips (£5) and Broccoli in Burnt Butter Vinaigrette (£5).
Rather than try and relay the Beards Steak experience, I thought I would just let him tell you himself:
“Loved all of it! It was so meaty, so juicy and perfectly cooked, just how I like it. The garlicy tomatoes that came with were incredible. And no poncey little sizes, it was a really decent size and left me completely full up and satisfied. It’s basically top quality meat done f****** well.” – the beard
I loved my steak, just as the Beard said, it was perfectly cooked, a deep pink on the inside and brown and crispy on the outside. The Smoked Béarnaise sauce was quite rich so I don’t think I needed such a generous serving of it, but still a delicious sauce nonetheless that complimented my fillet spectacularly. The Broccoli went perfectly with both meals, and the chips were mouth-wateringly good, but I have to admit, after trying the Bone marrow I don’t think I’m a fan. It was a bit too salty and fatty for me, and mostly bone so I sort of didn’t see the point. But agreeing with the Beard, Barbecoa’s steaks are basically meat done properly and a must try for all steak lovers.
Next up was Dessert and a cocktail. I’d never necessarily order those two things together, but as I was ordering the Snickesphere – a peanut and salted caramel pudding based on the Snickers Ice cream, served with gold popping candy and a perfectly oval shaped scoop of Ice Cream that basically left me Ummmm’ing and Aaahing as I demolished it – Shanni said she would be sending me over a cocktail she thought I might like. I love service like this in restaurants, where it is personal and tentative, it can really make your dining experience.
As the Beards deep green Digestif arrived, a little tumbler glass filled with what looked like a trifle was placed down in front of me and Shanni began to talk me through this delectable drink called The Apple Pie. Served warm and toasty, perfect for a cold February evening, this Winter cocktail contains Apple Cider, Moonshine, Vanilla Vodka, Cinnamon, Cloves and Maple Cream. The only way I can describe it is it tasted like an alcoholic gingerbread latte and I could have drank many more. I doubt it would be to everyones taste but for someone with a very sweet tooth, like me, it was the perfect way to wash down such a strong savoury meaty meal.
Overall our evening at Barbecoa was incredible, and I can’t compliment the service and the staff enough. I love a restaurant where the waiters and waitresses are foodies themselves and really know their stuff; a smile goes a long way, but a lovely conversation as well as tips and recommendations will impress me no end.
Would I return? Absolutely, I can’t fault any of the food, it was scrumptious, the wine was wonderful and the service exceptional. Although a little out of our usual budget, it’s a restaurant definitely worth splashing out on, and I would love to take friends and family back there for another night of delicious food. Jamie Oliver, I applaud you.
*I was invited along to the review the Barbecoa by the Resaurants PR agency, who contributed to the cost of our meal