The time has come again, summer has passed, and whilst dear old Blighty retains some milder temperatures, us icy-island dwellers prepare ourselves for the impending doom of winter.
However, the misery of our summer’s departure is offset by an exciting period. No, not autumn itself, but rather the chance to celebrate the culinary offerings of the capital with London’s Restaurant Festival. The October-long affair signifies how to deal with the long cold months ahead; eat your way through it. And while so many of London’s restaurants showcase their menus at excellent value through the course of October, the time is ripe to head to Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa in Piccadilly.
As you walk down to the basement level of the Barbecoa, a stunning Art Deco-style dining room awaits, complete with view of the open kitchen and extensively stocked bar. Sinking in to the pine green booths and revelling in the warm light of the room, I wasn’t sure if it was the surroundings or the exquisite Sidecar that were leading to a warm fuzzy feeling in me.
To begin we had the chicken wings, drenched in hot sauce and counteracting blue cheese. A scattering of peanuts and chives addition made this combination worth getting your hands dirty for (note, finger bowls are of course provided).
Alongside the chicken wings, we tried the calamari – a litmus test for any establishment’s cooking. I’m not squidding when I say this may be the best calamari I’ve ever tasted. Definitely the best I’ve had in London. The beautifully floury rings were of perfect texture, and the accompanying Asian flavours of lime, chilli & spring onions made the rings zing out.
Considering Barbecoa has 3 different grills & an in-house BBQ from across different corners of the globe, it made sense to keep things carnivorous.
For once, I tried some meat where the barbecue added to the flavour rather than choked it out. It turns out the subtle, smoky taste of the St Louis pork belly was from cherry wood being used in the in-house BBQ. This dish might be all you need to stave off the Missouri of winter.
After our taste buds had travelled across the world, Barbecoa returned them to the hearty flavours of British winter. Our culinary homecoming was a generous rump steak – as flavoursome as you could expect – matched with sweet leeks & wild mushrooms. Top nosh.
To finish on a sweet note Barbecoa gives the indecisive of us a chance to revel. We were presented with a platter of made-on-site, too-good-to-eat handcrafted desserts. The platter, which included chocolate pecan brownie, baked vanilla & cherry cheesecake, salted caramel & chocolate macaron, lemon meringue tart, chocolate truffle and orange jelly-type gum, could have impressed me on its selection alone. But sure enough, the delicate creations tasted as good as they looked.
Basking in my own gluttony and plodding my way to the Tube home, I was left with a lasting impression; Barbecoa is an essential joint to have on your foodie map to navigate the perils of the imminent British winter.
Barbecoa – Piccadilly
194 Piccadilly, London, W1J 9EX