A joint venture from Jamie Oliver and American chef, Adam Perry Lang, Barbecoa brings some serious meat to the carnivores of the City, throwing in some spectacular views of St Pauls just for good measure.
Located in the brand new One New Change shopping centre, Barbecoa utilises its envious location impeccably. Commandeering one end of the development, seating snakes around a huge centrepiece of an open kitchen, ensuring that as many of the diners as possible can enjoy the stunning vista the huge floor to ceiling windows afford. The fact that Christopher Wren’s awe-inspiring cathedral is in plain view of all but the unluckiest diners certainly adds gravitas to what’s an already impressive venue, where a careful balance between sophistication and informality has been really well judged. Even without the sublime panorama though, this place would still impress, thanks to swathes of black, red leather booth seating, swooping spotlights, snippets of industrial chrome piping and little nods to its neighbour next door, such as the imposing clusters of organ pipes acting as lampshades. It’s all very stylish and well thought out, even if eyes will undoubtedly end up ignoring it all anyway to gaze out across the capital.
In the heart of the City, Barbecoa knows its audience. It’s relaxed enough for long boozy lunches and informal deal-breaking, but there’s certainly enough polish for the suits to feel refined - and the excellent, knowledgeable and considerate service from a well-trained team definitely helps. Of course, there are plenty of nearby workers splashing their cash but Jamie Oliver’s faithful fans will certainly come from afar, as will those eager to sample those very fine views for themselves.
Barbecoa is unashamedly carnivorous, specialising in good quality cuts of meat and fish cooked, apparently, just like we would have done when we were barely bipedal. The fact that the kitchen is a high-tech mix of Texan smokers, Japanese robata grills, tandoor ovens, fire pits and char-grills suggests that it’s sentiment rather than reality, but it doesn’t matter anyway – there are some incredible meats coming from the kitchen.
However, meals begin with starters, and whilst they’re good enough, they’re not nearly as impressive as the main players. The roast squash salad (£7) is a pleasant enough mix of feta, winter leaves, pine nuts, a (slightly over-toasted) crostini and a balsamic dressing - it just doesn't really wow. The crispy pig cheeks (£8) look much better, served with an autumn piccalilli and a chive and lambs lettuce salad.
Mains are pretty much split into pork, lamb, beef and chicken (with a brief mention of daily fish specials). The fat and fine fillet steak (£30) is cooked to perfection and served with bone marrow, parsley pickled shallots and tarragon but the real highlights are the lamb chops (£18), three stunningly tender chops of very, very good lamb, served with a well-balanced anchovy and rosemary sauce and a huge woodland mushroom. Creamed spinach (£4) is an excellent accompaniment, served with crispy shallots and a breadcrumb topping.
Barbecoa’s wine list isn’t extensive, but it is very accessible and will keep everyone bar the pickiest of wine enthusiast happy, with plenty of options rising from very affordable house options (Cantina di Torro madregale rosso) at just £11 for the bottle, rising through to gran reserve riojas and cru reislings at £85. Refreshingly, the first page of Barbecoa’s wine list shows all the wines available by the glass – and there are a few – making lunchtime dining a whole lot easier. As well as the house options, you can sup on a Vallone negro amaro at £6 for a small glass or an Argentinian malbec from Altos las Homingas for £7.
The Last Word
The stunning views of one of the capital’s finest landmarks will probably get the majority of the plaudits but the quality of the food is every bit as impressive. Barbecoa comes highly recommended.