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I am a planner. By this, I mean that I meticulously plan my monthly budgets and my personal finances in general; I maintain a list of restaurants that I want to visit in London and (some) slightly further afield. However, as a result of all of this planning it means that I am not the best when it comes to an impromptu evening out. I found myself in just such a situation last weekend where, after meeting some friends for drinks in the St Paul’s area, my wife and I needed to go somewhere for dinner. Nightmare! I hadn’t planned anything. Where should/could we go?? Fortunately, in these situations my wife is apt to take the lead and guided me to a restaurant that wasn’t on “my list” – Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa.

It turned out to be an excellent choice. I am in the last throes of training for a 100km trek and as such over the last couple of weeks have been eschewing carbohydrates in favour of a high-protein diet in order to lose some weight; and Barbecoa is certainly a restaurant for meat lovers – the whole focus of the restaurant is essentially a paean to the cow, the pig and the chicken. Furthermore, the setting of the restaurant is wonderful; we had a lovely table next to the huge windows and wonderful views of the back of St Paul’s. The cover photo for this post demonstrates the lovely views that we had.

For starter we shared what turned out to be the highlight of our dinner – a fillet of Beef Tartare with Chimichurri Aioli, Charred Red Peppers and a Hard Boiled Egg. The quality of the meat was immediately apparent, it was succulent and tender and beautifully seasoned. The accompanying elements made sure that there were lots of interesting flavours to combine the raw meat with. It also came with some deliciously toasted crostinis. We were seriously impressed with this dish. It was on their “Sharing Plate” menu and was a perfect size for two people to share as a starter.

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For the mains, I decided not to mess around. I wanted meat and I wanted a lot of it; so I went for the Pulled Pork Shoulder with Waffles, BBQ Sauce and Coleslaw. As you will be able to see from the photo, the pile of meat that emerged was certainly impressive. It was everything that one comes to expect from Pulled Pork, deliciously tender and wonderfully flavourful. The coleslaw was a vibrant purple colour and made a good accompaniment to the Pulled Pork; whereas the waffles were pleasant but I allowed my wife to eat these due to the aforementioned diet.

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My wife chose for her main the Brined and Roasted Chicken Breast which was served with blackened creamy corn, deep-fried banana and Jalapeño Salsa. As you can see from the photo below, it was extremely attractively presented. The chicken breast itself was beautifully succulent and the glaze that had been applied to the outside gave it a lovely, sticky coating. It’s probably an appropriate time for me to admit that there is only one food on this planet that I have encountered so far that I absolutely will never eat – bananas. Now is not the time to explain why, but suffice to say they are evil and an abomination. That being said, my wife was rather pleased with her deep-fried banana as an accompaniment to her chicken.

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As part of the healthy eating policy, I am also not drinking – which has made it rather difficult to maintain a wine blog over the last few weeks. Therefore, I did not try any of the wines from the wine card; but I will admit to having perused it and being very impressed with the selection. I had to settle for a non-alcoholic cocktail to accompany dinner, which was a Cream Soda that I believe was designed at Jamie’s other London restaurant – Fifteen. This wasn’t a bad accompaniment, but I must admit to hankering after a nice wine to go with my food; still that is my cross to bear (until Sunday, at least).

Overall, I was impressed with this restaurant. It wasn’t on “the list”, but it did exactly what we needed it to do and with great style and quality. I will be coming back, because I want to try their Rib-Eye; which reminded me that we never really cross a restaurant off “the list” – even if it wasn’t actually on there in the first place.

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