Met up with some folk yesterday for an (early) birthday meal at Barbecoa, a BBQ restaurant owned by Jamie Oliver and Adam Perry Lang.

I met with my friend S at Peterborough, and we travelled down to London by train. We arrived at 1 New Change early, which gave us time to look around the shops, and then have a wander on the roof terrace. There we met and and two other old friends – a chum from University and his wife. The final two members of our party – again, a uni friend and her husband – were waiting for us at the bar, and we were soon seated.

Our table was great, overlooking St Pauls. However, the bright sunshine dazzled people’s eyes, but the staff flicked a switch and electric blinds came down to just the right level.

We all ordered various starters and mains, to which I asked our waitress to add two portions of pulled pork for the table, and enough assorted nibbles (scratchings/pate and toast/pickled veg/olives…) for all of us. We probably didn’t need the nibbles, but they were all fantastic, so I am glad we got them.

We got through a mountain for food, and at the end there was a tiny bit of pulled pork that no-one could manage.

However, after a short while, we decided we could manage deserts!

As a starter I had baby back ribs – I’m normally not one for nibbling on bones, but I’d heard good things about them, and the stories weren’t wrong. They were delicious, albeit rather hot with fresh chillis. For the main, I had the pit beef, with duck-fat chips, and a taste of the various sides we ordered. Oh, and a good bit of the shared pulled pork. Pannetone bread and butter pudding to finish, then we all went for a walk around St Pauls, before ending up in the pub.

One of the reasons I wanted to try a few different dishes was to compare them to the BBQ food I am producing at home. Yeah, right, compare my pulled pork to Adam Perry Langs! But according to S, it actually compares quiet well, which is nice to hear. Their beef was out of this world, rich and deep in taste, and I was trying to work out what the cut was. In the end I asked, and the reason I couldn’t identify it became clear – it was actually Jacob’s Ladder (short ribs), but deboned and rolled before slow cooking. It was amusing that it meant I had eaten ribs for starters and rib-meat for main, but one I was told what the meat was, I knew why it had such an intense flavour. Must see if my local butcher can do something for me.

Everyone seemed to enjoy it, and I noticed that many of my friends picked up cards from the reception desk, which is always a good sign. Staff were excellent and cheerful, which always makes for a nice atmosphere.

Couldn’t have wished for a better start to this week – my birthday is actually not until Wednesday, and I have the whole week off work, ending with another meal with my brother and sister-in-law on Friday, in Cambridge. Hopefully by then I’ll be ready to eat again!

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