Where? Yeah never heard of it until recently either…Wood Street Bar & Restaurant I mean, not the Barbican. I’ve heard of the Barbican – I went to a sit-down techno rave there years ago. Yeah I’m well ahead of the curve, me.
At least none of the 2 million and counting Instagram roast dinner reviewing accounts of London that all go to the same places will have ever heard of it – let alone been here. You know what it could be?
I was hoping that it would be a hidden gem.
It wasn’t the most culinary successful weekend ever. Do you remember a few weeks ago, when I said that the fish and chips looked amazing at The Bull & Last? I took my parents there this weekend and I can confirm that the fish and chips was not amazing. Well, it was amazing in one way…amazingly crap.
And then I went to a highly-rated Italian in Hampstead on the Saturday night – it was certainly an improvement from the night before, but the swordfish was overcooked and therefore a little dry, not to mention how hot it was in there…and crowded. Oh, and they played adverts over the speakers. Loudly.
The Romanesco sauce was good and the smaller potatoes were nice and garlicky with crispy edges (the larger ones were, erm, like most Sunday roast roasties but garlicky). I always think that my minimum expectation from a restaurant should be that I get a meal at least as nice as I can do myself. I’m not an amazing cook by any stretch of the imagination but I can follow a recipe accurately bar tripling the garlic requirements.
Can Barbie rescue Ken?
I needed the roast dinner to rescue my weekend. And just for a little added pressure, the chef is a long-time follower of mine on Twitter. We’ve talked on Twitter quite a bit. We nearly arranged to meet up for beers before the little pandemic issue. He nearly sent me some peppercorn sauce samples, before he had a wife using them and putting the empty pots back in the cupboard issue.
So if it’s a bad roast dinner, how the hell do I write that? Ooh look, some more Instagrammers going for a roast dinner:
I do always try to be unbiased, and this will continue 4 EVA, but maybe just bear in mind that I don’t want to give a bad review for personal social reasons, as I think he’s cool and a potential drinking buddy. So maybe it isn’t as unbiased as per my ideals.
At least he didn’t know that I was visiting, so there was no special treatment and yes I paid my bill in full, didn’t ask or expect a discount. No free dessert, no asking for a complimentary meal, no offering exposure…though with 19 followers I’m not entirely sure being featured on Roast Dinners in London is much exposure.
He didn’t even know I was there until I sent him a photograph of the roast when it arrived.
Suppose I should tell you a bit more about the place, and perhaps even the menu before I lie to you about how amazing the roast dinner is.
Wood Street Bar & Restaurant in Barbican. It’s pictured below. Ahhhh.
You know I said that I hoped that it would be a hidden gem? Well, I arrived at Farringdon on the Thameslink and loaded up Google Maps (yeah I know that the Met line is quicker to get to the Barbican…well…normally, but changing to Thameslink gives me a nice oxygen break). I couldn’t find it on Google Maps. Though we walked towards Wood Street and it was nested in the corner, right under the Barbican flats. Wood Street Bar & Restaurant was certainly hidden…could it be a gem?
Inside felt decoratively dated – none of this modern exposed brickwork, light blue painted walls, fairy lights, yadda yadda. It had a classic feel, it had proper comfortable seating, solid tables – but most of all it felt like it suited the Barbican and the 1950’s era that it was opened in…whoa…just checked Google and the Barbican was opened in 1982. I blame Thatcher.
Anyway, I like the Barbican as much as I like a day of non-stop rain…I do actually enjoy rain, though it is something that you need to learn to love – a bit like the Barbican itself. I liked the look of the menu too at Wood Street Bar & Restaurant.
You’ll already know that I chose the beef as for some reason I’ve posted a photograph of the roast dinner already, priced at an affordable £18.00 which is not too bad for central London. I actually quite fancied the chicken, but I was wary that “chicken supreme” might be more a sauce than gravy.
Dinner took around 20 minutes to arrive, and this is a photograph from another angle. Three different shots for you today – I hope you are feeling as blessed as a billionaire president that pays less tax annually than I pay service charges, when he “catches covid” to distract everyone from said tax revelations.
I was a bit wary when I read on the menu that it came with beetroot as I’m soooo fed up of the stuff arriving in my veg box every other week…though I have recently worked out how to add my alleged intolerances so I won’t get it going forwards.
Anyway, this was honey golden beetroot, so none of that purple pollution in the gravy, they had a really nice texture – almost like that of cooked apples, and tasted of a malty kind of honey. Impressed…he’s made me like beetroot.
Barbie & kale
The kale was good, a hint of garlic to it I thought, and a nice crisp texture.
We interrupt this programme to bring you an important announcement:
For the purposes of any lawyers reading, I would like to clarify that I am simply astounded by the excellency of the brickwork. Yes, I love bricks. I love how they fit together and make walls, and even houses when we can be arsed to build any. Someone else also likes bricks:
Moving onto the, erm, carrot. Which was, erm, long, whole and solid – it didn’t have a huge amount of give in it when sliced. Really nicely roasted, close to perfect – a faint orange flavouring though I thought I picked up more ginger than orange. However, I’m just some bloke with a blog and a small collection of Barbie dolls, one to represent each time I matched with someone on Tinder (and in each case was then subsequently unmatched when they sobered up).
Three roast potatoes were supplied as per London standard, but were actually edible, unlike London standard. Two were pretty crispy on the outside, all were pretty fluffy on the inside – and they tasted really good…not like ordinary roast potatoes. Certainly some of the best roasties that I’ve had this year…granted that doesn’t say much.
The yorkie was fine. Sizable, arguably felt a tad “done earlier” but when does that not happen?
Beef up a barbie
So onto the most important bits and the beef was pretty damn sexy. Two reasonably thick slices of sirloin, cooked rare with a mustard and pepper coating.
It was quite tender, having been slow-cooked for 12 hours – sirloin does tend to take an extra bite or two than, say, fillet, and this was a juicy munch. More importantly the flavour was quite the taste explosion, with the mustard and especially the pepper impacting.
Finally, the gravy. Yep, you guessed it – proper, thick, meat-stock gravy. Because no chef that has followed me for years would dare suggest that I visit them without doing proper gravy. And this wasn’t just proper gravy, it was how the hell can I make gravy that good myself. Proper, sexy, somewhat complex, northern gravy.
Well, that was pretty damn delicious. Are you more impressed with the roast dinner or the fact that I’ve made it this far without referencing the “Barbie Girl” song?
It was time to meet the chef – the first time that I’ve ever done so. I asked him what score he was hoping for, and he was hoping for an 8.8 out of 10. Ambitious.
Yet there is very good argument for a very high score. Every single vegetable impressed – the carrot in orange and ginger, the kale with the garlic and turning beetroot from something I cope with to something that seriously impressed.
Perkier than Barbie’s nipples?
There was flavour throughout the whole roast – even the roasties had even more taste to them than is normal. The beef was very good, and the gravy was just sexy. The roast dinner very much met the criteria of being as good as I can do myself…in fact, it surpassed it quite a bit (though I do make the perfect roasties).
The only meh was the yorkie…and it was still decent…I’m very meh about yorkies anyway.
I am scoring it an 8.65 out of 10. My assistant said it is either an 8.40 or an 8.50. Which makes it the 6th best roast dinner out of 151 reviewed so far.
Someone please go visit and check that I’m not being biased!
I’ll be back this Sunday. Table is booked and it is quite highly rated…though quite possibly overrated. Good job you have a hero like me to find out for you. Unless Boris cancels life.
Wood Street Bar & Restaurant, Barbican, Central London
Tube Lines: Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan Line
Fare Zone: Zone 1
Loved & Loathed
Loved: Proper sexy, northern gravy. Unbeatable vegetables. Astounding flavour to meat. Yeah...delicious.
Loathed: Erm, the neighbours? The yorkie was a bit meh.