Address: 194 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EX
Opening times: Mon-Thu 8am-11pm; Fri & Sat 9am -12am; Sun 9am-10.30pm
Telephone number: +44 203 005 9666
Barbecoa is an opulent art deco restaurant with great steak dishes, but veggies beware – this is one for carnivores! So PAs, if your principal and their guests want succulent steak, this is a perfect choice.
Tiger rating: 3.5/5
Great for: Business meetings and personal lunches or dinners
What is Barbecoa?
First thing first, what is Barbecoa? This is Jamie Oliver’s latest restaurant opening in London’s West End – and it’s very different from his staple brand, Jamie’s Italian. Come to think of it, it’s very different to his television shows. And, very different to the Jamie we know.
But, what does Barbecoa actually mean? We had no idea before or during our meal what it meant. After a quick Google search, I’m glad I didn’t know. Barbecoa is a traditional way of cooking meat with a high fat content (pork, sheep, goat or beef), usually steamed; a very similar method to slow cooking, originating from Mexico and the Caribbean.
It strikes me as a misleading choice of name for a plush contemporary barbeque restaurant, specialising in British and Irish beef – especially one with little on the current menu resembling its namesake. Thankfully, most of its guests are likely to be just as in the dark as we were.
Although it doesn’t feel like Jamie Oliver, or taste exactly like traditional barbecoa, it is very good at what it does. We ate from the ‘Lunch and Early Supper’ menu which has a healthy choice of dishes for all tastes. According to the website, its menu is made up of ‘classics and ever-changing seasonal dishes’ which are ‘all about wood, fire and the best meat’.
The quality of the meat is clear; generous cuts of delicious tender beef are this restaurant’s showstoppers. We began our foray into Barbecoa’s finest with the ‘Burnt end trencher’ starter. This was a sizeable portion of deep meaty flavours, rested on top of a hearty slice of sourdough toast. I say meaty flavours because there didn’t appear to be much actual meat, rather more bone marrow, onion and tomato. But it didn’t matter, this was delicious. Comfort food at its finest.
Our next notable dish was the best we had. The ‘Dedham Vale rump steak’ was lean and tender. The quality of the steak really does rival that at London’s better known top steak restaurants. The corn succotash perfectly complimented the succulent taste. In short, we thoroughly recommend this dish!
But then there were the vegetarian and fish options. Underwhelming is perhaps an overstatement; disappointing seems fitting. We had a pescatarian in our lunch party who was well-catered for by the menu, yet underserved by taste. These days it is not uncommon for someone at the table to not eat meat, so even restaurants specialising in the stuff should provide alternatives that are on par with the main offering.
The ‘Smoked maple-glazed plums’ could be likened to a sour dessert. The ‘Crab hush puppies’ starter was tasty, yet lacked any distinctive crab flavour. And the ‘Arctic cod’ was a quality fish fillet, but the tart grilled apricots overpowered its delicate flavour. We advise you to think carefully about booking Barbecoa if not all the guests are meat eaters.
Our favourite dessert was the ‘Eton mess’ which was a delicious combination of homemade ice cream, marshmallow and violets.
The meat is quite literally the showstopper of the venue too. Upon entering, Barbecoa’s customers are greeted with great slabs of aged, marbled specimens in floor-to-ceiling cabinets. This adds a sense of authenticity to the food and a degree of honesty to the glamourous interior.
The venue is filled with carefully juxtaposed textures and patterns which give the restaurant an opulent feel. The downstairs dining room is large but beautiful, and intimate yet spacious. The dimly-lit vintage chandeliers, set against the dark tiles, vintage chairs, leather upholstery and parquet flooring, give a feminine edge to what would otherwise be an entirely masculine feel. We recommend requesting a booth for larger parties for added privacy in this large space. There’s also a private dining room, which we recommend booking if your principal is looking for a more intimate experience.
The interior pays careful homage to the building’s roots, built back in the 1800s, with its classical design and colour scheme. It harks back to the area’s heyday, a time before the Pizza Huts and Tescos of today’s Piccadilly. Barbecoa is a beautiful venue that its website proclaims, ‘fully merits its landmark location’.
The staff are attentive and knowledgeable, providing us with the right amount of contact throughout our meal. We were served efficiently and professionally, with our sever taking care not to be too intrusive to our conversation.
One last gripe: the website boasts that ‘as the sun sets, there’ll be no better place to enjoy beautifully crafted cocktails…’ but this place has few windows. The main restaurant is situated downstairs, with no windows at all.
Despite the drawbacks, Barbecoa offers a solid dining experience in an exceptional venue with a deliciously meaty menu.