Barbecoa: where you can steak it easy

Barbecoa is Jamie Oliver’s collaboration with steakhouse/barbecue legend Adam Perry Lang. It’s pretty much a celebration of traditional cooking from all over the world using fire. Think smoking, grilling, tandoors and everything barbecued. Sounded like my kind of restaurant so we decided to give it a go.

Located at One New Change opposite St. Paul’s Cathedral, the L-shaped restaurant is designed by Tom Dixon nonetheless. Walking into the restaurant, we were greeted by red sofas surrounding tables that reminded me of diners and fast food chains. I had a flashback of Gladiators and those kiddie gyms my mother used to put me while she shopped around the mall. But I thought this is fine dining? Thankfully we were escorted to a better looking area with an amazing view of the church and its famous dome. This is more like it. Further down, two caged booths waited for their VIP 7.30 special occasion diners. Very much a date place.

Our server was called Aute who looked half-Finnish, half-gift from God and 100% yum. He went on about the night’s specials which included fish and poultry. I couldn’t care less because he had me at ‘Would you like some wine?’ prime rib. I let my friends order everything as I was too busy giggling like a schoolgirl. Ew.

We had two starters to share, the calamari (£10) and the roast baby veg salad (£8). The calamari was so-so. Understand that squid is one of the relatively pricier ingredients in the market but ten quid for a measly piece feels too much. I could’ve gone to a Chinese takeaway, paid half for triple the quantity and enjoyed it more. The veg salad was heaps better. It seemed simple but the ingredients were well thought of. Every forkful was pretty exciting. You get sweetness from carrot and beet, boldness from salsify, creaminess from avocado and curd cheese, and punches of freshness from mint. I wish we had two of these instead.

Lamb leg, zolfini beans, rocket, tomato sauce

I didn’t like how C’s lamb was presented because I’m not a fan of stacking meat on soft/mushy sides. However, the sear on the meat looked great and when she cut through, it was a beauty to look at. The smell wafted towards me and though I’m not a fan of zolfini beans, I think I’d try this one next time for myself (beans on the side).

Specials that night included prime rib (market price). My friends P and T decided to share 900g (apparently good for two people) of British born and bread beef. I was really excited about this meal because I love my steak.

Steaking it easy on me.

The steak came in a big plate which made it look like a small portion. It looked like an easy feed until I carried it for a photo op and realised we were in for a feast. It came sliced which isn’t usually how I like steak served (unless carved tableside!) because I enjoy seeing the juice ooze out when I cut it myself. Nevermind – we were sharing anyway and perhaps they thought about this. I like steak plain and lightly seasoned and this one was quite good. The meat was tender and was already delicious on its own that I really didn’t care much for the sides (mashed potatoes, creamed spinach at £4 each). It’s not the best steak I’ve ever had, but it did hit a spot.

There was so much of it! The server told us it’s usually good for two people so I thought P, T & I would easily devour the whole thing, but we did leave a little bit because we were getting full. My excuse was dessert…

Desserts come at £8 each and we had two – the banana split (caramelised wafer, butterscotch praline, chocolate sauce & vanilla ice cream) and the vino santo rose cake (with candied vanilla lemons, crystallised rose petals, creme fraiche). The banana split came with a slice of walnut cake which was a surprise. I wish they’d put it down in the description because I’m not a fan – plus if people had nut allergies, they’d be dead by now. It was just okay, over all. I don’t remember getting excited about this dish, even if it was all so chocolatey.

The vino santo cake was more exciting. The cake itself wasn’t so bad although it was a bit dry. But when you eat it with all the components it comes alive beautifully. The candied lemons were really yummy and I wish they had more of those crystallised rose petals. Yum.

The whole dining experience was pretty cool. The food could be a tad bit better for what you pay, but to be honest the ambience kinda makes up for it. The first hint of ‘Oooh this is pretty schwankey…’ subsides after seeing the red sofas, and once you’re at your table the good old ‘laidback Jamie restaurant‘ feel comes back. Our servers were all friendly (and *cough*goodlooking*cough*) and knowledgeable about which wines to pair our food with. There’s an intimidating amount of lovers on dates but it’s also a decent place for friends to hang out too.

Barbecoa
20 New Change  City of London, EC4M 9AG | 020 3005 8555

Average spend £60 pp for starters, mains, dessert & wine

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