After the madness of London Fashion Week, the promise of a delicious meal was the antidote that I needed to get through the day. I was stressed out-as usual- and flapping around like a mad hen because things were not going to plan. In short it was a typical Saturday and organization was not my strong suit. Still, armed with my power squad of girls- Cherrie, Lucy (Lucy Ellen) , Christine (Xtine Loves) and Anna ( On The Edge Blog) , I knew that Saturday night was about to get ‘lit’. I just had to de-stress first and after a delay with events, I was late for my scheduled meal at 4 PM and felt anxious about it. I am a pretty punctual kinda gal and being late is not something I tend to be associated with very often so I was worried that this would effect our time slot at Barbecoa . I needn’t have worried, the staff at Barbecoa, ST Paul’s were surprisingly lovely about it and ushered us to a table overlooking ST Paul’s Cathedral. The decor was minimalist but impressionable and armed with menus we were ready to be treated to a delicious slap up meal. Because we had arrived before 5 PM there was a special three course meal ‘Lunch menu’ which listed three courses for £27, but sadly I was unable to order off this menu as there was no vegetarian main. One thing that I noticed after looking at the menu was how little vegetarian options there were and ended up having to order vegetarian sides to create a ‘main meal’ as the only main meal option was ‘cod’ or ‘celeraic’, neither of which I could have. Still choosing two sides of Truffle Mac ‘n’ Cheese (£7) and Spiced Pumpkin (£4) I was nevertheless looking forward to my meal.
Both Anna and Christine opted to skip starters and treat themselves to a rack of ribs (£20), smothered in jalapenos , while Lucy ordered the ‘smoked grilled chicken’ (£19) and Cherrie ordered the beef cheek main (£22). The ‘rib plates’ came out first, smothered in New York Slaw and jalepeno peppers and immediately I noted how large their portions were. First impressions were good, both stated that the ribs were tender and melted in their mouths but stated that more seasoning was needed to compliment the tenderness of the ribs. The jalapenos added much needed flavour to Christine’s ribs , while Anna who does not like spice preferred hers without. After witnessing the enormity of the ribs plate, seeing Cherrie’s and Lucy’s mains were a little bit of a shock and looked minuscule in comparison. What they lacked in size however they sure made up for in flavour and both parties praised the juiciness of the cuts of meat on their plates. For Cherrie the beef cheek accompanied by pickled walnuts and Worcestershire Glaze was very tender and praised Barbecoa’s use of prime cut meats. The only critique which seemed to be a running theme was there was not enough seasoning and stated that ‘people who expect lots of flavor’ may be disappointed but nevertheless she enjoyed her main immensely, especially the ‘juicy’ beef. While seasoning seemed to be a common critique Lucy’s smoked chicken was a meal which she declared had more than enough flavour, although she noted that there were too many bones in the chicken to pick out, meaning that there was less chicken on her plate.
Despite the lack of seasoning, my vegetarian sides proved to be an anomaly in the selection and while small, packed plenty of flavour and punch. The truffle mac n’ cheese was served in a small clay side dish and wafted tantalizingly underneath my nose, conjuring up memories of eating this Italian favourite growing up. Topped with a Gruyere Crumble, the cheese crust was thick but had layers of flavour. Notes of Gruyere rang through, while a sharp hint of cheddar in the bechemal sauce, enveloped the macaroni in an invitation of warmth. I only wisgh that the side was larger as I would have happily scoffed the lot, especially as it wasn’t too creamy as many mac ‘n’ cheese’s can be. The roasted pumpkin was served with pickled spices and labneh, in a small dish and was hopelessly divine. The fragrant scent of roasted pumpkin reminded me of cold winter soups, while the labneh created a stark ‘tart’ contrast to the softness of the sweet pumpkin. While the meat mains may have not had enough seasoning, the two sides I ordered had plenty of flavour to sate my culinary appetite and I was blissfully content with my small but delicious meal.
To wash down our mains/sides we all ordered drinks; Anna and Lucy ordered the Le Pianure Bianco, a white Italian wine (£6) that merged a fine ‘balance’ of ‘sweetness’ and ‘tartness’ perfectly, Cherrie a oak aged beer (£5.50), Christine a cocktail named ‘Sons & Roses’ (£10), while I stuck with my go to cocktail, a delicious original mojito, also £10. Cherrie described her beer as being light and fragrant and praised its ability to transcend other beers, which often left her feeling bloated in comparison. Christine’s drink was very small and looked more like a shot than a cocktail but with one taste it was easy to see why. Sons & Roses is not for the faint hearted and one sip left me gagging to escape back to the comfort of my delicious fruity mojitio. For those who are a fan of strong alcohol, the cocktail is made with a bourbon base and laced with maraschino syrup, to lend sweetness to the mini drink. While pricey for the quantity of alcohol it certainly made Christine tipsy, proving how strong the percentage of alcohol was. Thank god it was so small, any more and she might have been on the floor. But the crowning jewel was undoubtedly the mojito which blended crushed ice, fresh mint and rum to create the perfect Faded Spring approved cocktail.
It is worthy to note that the staff were definitely paramount to creating the perfect dining experience and were always on hand if we needed to order or had a query about their dishes. While the others had not ordered starters, they had ordered ‘beef dripping chips which proved to be the lowlight of the meal. All parties stated that the chips were dry and appeared to have been re-fried several times and asked for the chips to be changed. The staff were ready to provide a fresh batch and seemed non-plussed about the change in itinerary, despite me knowing how frustrating it must have been for them, having worked in the hospitality industry before. Unfortunately the chips came back very quickly and looked even drier than the first batch and I felt slightly embarrassed that we had to send them back again. Fortunately the third batch proved to be the lucky charm and was a moister selection of chips, where you could actually taste the beef dripping. It was time to order deserts, at least for me and Cherrie and I couldn’t wait to have a sweet treat to end my day. Christine joked with the waiter that it was my birthday and to my surprise my ‘Snickersphere’ arrived on a black chalkboard with the words ‘Happy Birthday’ which I thought was a sweet touch, even if it wasn’t actually my birthday. I have to admit for £9,50 the desert was minuscule and believe it should be charged at a lower price considering the size. Nevertheless the peanuts and salted caramel were delicious and although the vanilla ice cream melted quickly, the ‘popping candy’ kernels were a welcome if a little strange surprise. Cherrie had decided on the sticky toffee pudding, which at £8 was larger and had plenty of flavour. Paired with ice cream and tangerine marmalade the desert was tart but did not compromise on flavour.
It had been a wonderful evening and thanks to the generosity of Barbecoa we had been gifted a meal free of charge, which was a delicious rare treat. While the sizes were small, the flavours for the most part were artfully curated and the craftsmanship of our alcoholic ‘drinks’ presentation was a strength that Barbecoa excelled in. Food was fresh and well made and despite ‘chips gate’, staff were professional, compliant and always ready to help with a winning smile. With the right company any meal can be a success and Barbecoa’s ability to host us and accommodate our preferences was a joy to behold. My one personal critique would be the lack of vegetarian options and although I know Barbecoa specializes in ‘meat’ dishes, having a better variety of ‘main’ vegetarian and vegan meals would boost the overall dining experience.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10
Photo Credit- Christine Wenham ( Xtine Loves)
Have You Ever Been To Jamie’s Barbecoa?
Please note I was given a budget, provided generously by Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa, ST Paul’s Cathedral. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more details on my disclosure policy please contact me using the contact form provided.