In general, I’m not a fan of things that work being messed around with. Roast dinners, for example, should be served in a traditional way (please don’t include roasted Mediterranean veg or sweet potato) and a full English breakfast doesn’t need avocado added (as much as I’m a fan of the mighty avo). Likewise, a perfect afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, cakes and warm scones works just fine as it is, right?
Well that’s what I thought, until I tried the afternoon tea at Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa Piccadilly. There, afternoon tea with a twist really works. So much so, in fact, that I’m concerned that the next time I have a traditional afternoon tea, the finger sandwiches just won’t cut it.
We’ve been to Barbecoa once before – the St Paul’s restaurant – where a couple of years ago, Mr P and I went for lunch to celebrate my birthday. We shared a huge steak and drank wine while watching the world go by, down below us. We’re fans of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants, having been to Fifteen a handful of times as a couple and Jamie’s Italian lots as a family. He just does the whole dining experience really well, and the food has never let us down.
So when Virgin Experience Days asked me and Mr P to check out Barbecoa’s afternoon tea ahead of Father’s Day, it was a no brainer.
The restaurant oozes 1920s glamour with antique panelling on the bar, beautiful mirrors, tiled flooring and leather seats. The building itself was once the Royal Institute of Painters in Water Colours and more recently, part of The Pigalle Club, a supper club where The Beatles and Shirley Bassey played. I love how they’ve studied the building’s heritage and used that when designing how it looks today.
One thing I love about Jamie Oliver restaurants is how they’re a bit fancy but completely relaxed. So you feel like you’re going somewhere nice but you can just be yourself and not have to sit up straight and be on your best behaviour. The staff at Barbecoa were super friendly and welcoming, they knew their stuff when it came to the food and tea, and they kept our teapot topped up for the whole time we were there.
So! The afternoon tea. As you’d expect, there’s an array of teas to choose from. We plumped for Barbecoa Breakfast Tea which came in a big loose leaf pot (I nearly forgot to use my tea strainer – anyone else always do that?)
The savouries – aka the reason finger sandwiches will be a big old let down from now on – were Wagyu Beef Slider with ‘special sauce’ (one of the tastiest burgers I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a few…) Crab Bouche, Goat’s Curd & Honeyed Almonds and Short Rib Croquette. It was such a delicious mix of food, and each thing was like a mini Jamie Oliver experience in itself, packed with flavour and leaving you wanting more.
The plate of cakes was almost too pretty to eat – almost, I said. With one of each, we decided to halve the salted caramel brownie, macaron, strawberry tart, carrot cake, lemon meringue, blood orange panna cotta and the rest, so that we’d get a taste of everything. My favourites were the brownie and the lemon meringue. So good!
Then it was onto my favourite part of an afternoon tea – the scones! These fruit scones were warm and came with Jersey
clotted cream and a choice of preserves or peanut butter – we went for strawberry, rhubarb and lemon curd. Oh the rhubarb jam! It was heavenly and took me right back to my childhood when my mum would make rhubarb jam in the kitchen at home.
So for someone who’s not keen on things being messed with, I think it’s safe to say the Barbecoa Afternoon Tea went down rather well with me.
If you’re looking at these photos and thinking you need to get involved (and I heartily recommend you do) you can book a voucher for Afternoon Tea For Two at Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa for £56 on the Virgin Experience Days site. Mr P reckons it’s the ideal Father’s Day gift.
Thanks to Virgin Experience Days for commissioning this post – as always all views are my own. For details of how I work with brands, see my Work With Me page.