You may have seen from my social media and Smokestak review that I have some friends who are very into their meat. So when I got the opportunity to visit and review Barbecoa, St Paul’s I jumped at the chance! Obviously I had to invite Tiva and David as my partners in meat eating… so we three went to eat the sh*t out of Barbecoa.
*Full Disclosure: this is a sponsored post, Barbecoa provided me a discount on my meal in return for an honest review*
Meat fiends do Barbecoa
Atmosphere & decor
I went with my friends at 8pm on a Friday night and the restaurant was comfortably buzzing. The family at the reception desk in front of me had to wait for a table as they hadn’t booked, but it didn’t feel rammed. There were plenty of couples on date night or special occasion (the ones next to us were out for a birthday) and a few big groups again there for birthday celebration meals.
I particularly liked the booth tables – it felt intimate to sit around these, although they are low booths separating the different tables. Overall the restaurant is mainly about the views – the decor is minimalist and dark, very masculine, which shouldn’t be a surprise given the focus on steak and whisky!
The best bit was definitely the view over St Paul’s – the New Change centre is ideally situated for this and my top tip is to ask for table 72 in the corner for this spectacular view:
Pretty spectacular view at dinner last night! Barbecoa at New Change has stunning views over a lit up St Paul’s – top tip is to ask for table 72 for this view!! ?? . #sponsored #meatfiends #barbecoa #bestviewofstpauls #givemethemeat #steakandwhiskey #restaurantreview #londonessentials #londonlife #londonview #lovelondon #instalondon #mylondon #londonbylondoners #londonblogger #igerslondon #london2do #london4all #thisislondon?? #toplondonrestaurants #eatfamous
You can also see into the open kitchen and check out the grills (they have two – a Japanese robata grill and an Argentine grill) and a smoker.
As David and I had to wait for Tiva to turn up, we started with some nibbles to keep the hunger at bay. With our cocktails (see the section later!) we had the beef croquettes and the Barbecoa sourdough with chicken butter and crispy chicken skin. Now these hit the spot!
The beef croquettes were sublime – the melt in the mouth slow cooked meat was divine! The crisp outside is wrapped around a soft and smokey meat filling.
David and I fought over the crispy chicken skin that came with the sourdough bread and chicken butter. Something so simple but done so well and full of flavour.
We decided that the best way to assess the menu was to get a selection of different starters and mains to share. I wanted to see what the non-meat options were like to give the best review of the food. Unfortunately the sticky creole ribs were off the menu (already sold out?) which left us with the chicken wings with blue cheese, hot sauce and peanuts. We also tried the stone bass ceviche and the prawns and scallops dish.
The wings were great! We loved the blue cheese, hot sauce and peanuts on them – full of flavour, albeit not the best thing to have with a nice wine!
The prawn and scallop dish had a lobster bisque with fennel as the sauce. This was as tasty as it sounds, however with just one scallop cut in half, it wasn’t really a sharing plate (i.e. I wanted to eat it all myself lol!)
The ceviche, scallop and prawn dishes were plenty tasty, but could not compare to the wings. These would be a great light way to start your meal though, with the grapefruit really adding a different citrus bite that was very cleansing.
You can’t come to Barbecoa and not get steak! So obviously we had to try that… we went for the rib eye served with smoked garlic mash and a fillet with bone marrow and smoked holladaise. In addition I wanted to try the venison special served with jerusalem artichoke puree and spiced shoulder croquettes. Of course the obligatory sides had to be tried also, we chose mashed potato, truffle mac and cheese, a blue cheese salad and miso broccoli. So our table looked like this:
So first up: the star of the show was the rib eye steak:
Perfectly cooked and so easy to eat with loads of flavour, the rib eye got the thumbs up from Argentine Tiva – in fact we had to leave her the majority!
I think this is maybe my favourite? The fillet was well cooked (medium rare) and sat on top of a slice of sourdough to catch the juices. My only criticism was that I didn’t think there was enough of the delicious smoked hollandaise sauce (I wanted it all). The bone marrow was also tasty and well cooked – I will only eat things like this in restaurants where they know their meat. I don’t like under-cooked bone marrow, so this was perfect for me.
The venison steak was served pink in the middle – so not overcooked, but not too bloody. The accompaniments went really well, I loved the artichoke puree and the croquette was as good as the beef ones from earlier.
Together it was a good selection of meat for self confessed meat fiends! Barbecoa also serve a chateaubriand for two (order early as these sell out), sirloin and rump steaks. All of the beef and most of the other meat is dry aged.
There is also lamb, short rib, St Louis BBQ style pork, pork chops and chicken, making good use of the smoker. For the non meat eaters, fish and a cauliflower dish complete the menu.
What about the sides? Well you get the options of the all the usual steak accompaniments, such as chips, mash potatoes, greens and sauces. So we went with mash, truffled mac and cheese, miso broccoli and the escarole (blue cheese) salad.
The truffle mac and cheese was divine, I love the luxury of truffle flavours and I wish that perhaps we hadn’t ordered quite so much food, so I would have been able to eat it all myself!
However I wasn’t so into the miso broccoli. Both Tiva and David liked this – they thought it was unique and different. However I’m used to miso glazed aubergine and this did not live up to that dish (which is one of my favourites). It was more on the salty side with the miso, but had none of the caramelisation that you get with the grilled or baked aubergine, so I was disappointed not to have the familiar flavours I was expecting. But so far only one unsatisfactory note for the whole meal – not bad!
By now I was bursting, so didn’t really want dessert, however Tiva never says no to pudding. So she and David ordered the snickersphere and the warm apple pie and I made sure there were three spoons!
So the snickersphere was meant to be a deconstructed snickerdoodle – I believe this is some kind of American biscuit. But basically it was chocolate, caramel and peanuts. This was a great combination of textures, with the crunchy nuts and oozy salted caramel working well with the chocolate.
Even with my love of chocolate, I think the comfort of the apple pie won out… that and the brandy ice cream it was served with! The apple pie also came with a custard, my Grandad would have approved of that. He always wound my Dad up by serving both custard and ice cream (which wasn’t allowed in my Dad’s house when he was growing up – Grandad Hugo was my Mum’s Dad)
Tiva and David washed the desserts down with some whisky – you’ll need to read on below to find out more about that!
Whilst I waiting for David and Tiva to arrive, I did what I normally do and order a pre-dinner cocktail. There was a good selection, including some very interesting gin based ones. I went with the Age Old Martinez, made with Bourbon Barrel-Aged Old Tom gin, vermouth and curacao. David had joined me by this point and tried the Old Smoky – with Bohea Lapsang Rum, Mandrian Napoleon and Lemon Peel. Both were fabulous cocktails. I loved the sweet martinez, made all the more sophisticated by the barrel-aged gin adding loads of interesting notes and depth. David’s smoky number was amazing, that rum was a revelation and almost whisky like.
Old fashion variations
This is what you come to Barbecoa to try if you LOVE your whisky. Tiva went straight in with this, trying the Gold Fashioned which uses a barrel-aged bourbon. This is not my type of cocktail, however both Tiva and David were very impressed.
Obviously a place that is known for its meat will have a great wine list too. The list at Barbecoa certainly has something for everyone, starting at a reasonable price point and then skyrocketing to the very special ones that we could only imagine! However Barbecoa make this very accessible with loads of high end wines available by the glass through the use of the coravin system. The lovely sommelier Alex took us through some of the wines that would suit our tastes and we tried a taste of a couple of the coravin ones before settling on a bottle of Amalaya Grand Cortes Malbec.
The first bottle (don’t I sound like a lush!) was unfortunately corked. Alex dealt with this so smoothly, she immediately replaced the wine with another bottle, even though it had taken us 20 minutes to figure out that the wine shouldn’t have tasted like that. When we tried the second bottle it was immediately evident that the mustiness from the first bottle wasn’t wine needing to breath, but actually something wrong with it, there was no fruit and no depth like the second bottle. Malbec is a great wine to have with meat, as the tannins in the wine work so well with the protein in the meat to create a party in your mouth, but they definitely had something for all tastes.
After our meal we were taken to the whisky bar for a little history on the vast whisky collection, including many special editions that Barbecoa have.
As we rolled out of the restaurant after 3.5 hours, stuffed to the gills, we reflected on the meal. The steak was amazing, the cocktails superb and the whisky selection world class.
But what really made this meal for me was the service.
We had fantastic service, from our Welsh waiter Alex, to bar manager Fernando and our sommelier (also an Alex). I don’t think this is just because I was there to review, for example we didn’t get special treatment on the wine – they would have replaced anyone’s bottle that was corked.
Overall the service was attentive, but not pushy – we had plenty of time to catch up with each other (and we needed to!) and the food came at a pleasing rate. I got the impression that they tailor the service to each individual table and do not make you feel rushed in anyway.
Because we ordered a lot of food and tried several extra drinks, this wasn’t the cheapest meal. However it was very good quality and stands up to similar pricing from Pitt Cue and wasn’t that much more expensive than our Smokestak dinner. I would not recommend this restaurant for vegetarians or non meat eaters though – you are best going somewhere without the focus on pure meat!
You can find Barbecoa at 20 New Change Passage, London, EC4M 9AG
Tel: 020 3005 8555
Head to the Barbecoa website to book a table.
*Full Disclosure – my meal at Barbecoa was discounted in return for this honest review, however all opinions remain my own!*