Barbecoa. Now I know this is a bit of a hate word to many foodies in London but, coming from the outside, with a touch of perspective, I find it quite exciting.
For those of you not from London, it is Jamie Oliver’s new barbeque venture with Adam Perry Lang and (from the look of the interior) a lot of very rich financiers who have paid for it to be kitted it out with Tom Dixon custom designed kit. It is situated in One New Change, the new “stealth bomber” designed shopping mall by the famous architect Jean Nouvel. Now apart from repeating a lot of buzzwords what does it mean?
Well, the food has been panned. Dos Hermanos captioned their review “monstrous carbuncle” and people on Twitter seemed of the view it was very missable and fairly surprised that I chose it was one of the restaurants to visit during a week in London (that said they were right as I did decide to visit just 4 hours before a meal at the Ledbury). Still, and I did only try two starters, it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t even bad, it was average to ok.
The ribs (and the wording was suggested by Gourmettraveller) were “tasty (albeit a bit dry)” and the pig’s cheeks could have done with something but were cooked well. That was all I was able to fit in but on such evidence I’ld happily eat there again but wouldn’t bother holding my breath for a mind altering meal.
Still, to put it in perspective, this was the use of pig’s cheeks, in a mass market restaurant, in the City of London, with perfect views of St Paul’s. If you want to compare this to the best of class BBQ joints in the US you will be disappointed (though I think one can have a rosy picture of those). What you have with Barbecoa is the next generation of mass eateries, what I would call post Terence Conran/ Alan Yau dining in London. It might be mass market but it is making an effort. And, for some reason I hold out a hope that it could get really rather good over the long run (though I have no justificiation for this apart from envy at their beautiful cast iron oven).
And everything else apart from the food is spot on. Excited, friendly service. Beautiful, solid industrial design. The best views of the London’s greatest building (St Paul’s) that City priced food can buy. And, the other really exciting thing is the butcher. One New Change is the newest, most glamorous building in London and what does it come with? A big clunking butcher doing every which way cut of meat and who are happy to take the time out of their day and talk to you about them.
So Barbecoa isn’t perfect, the food isn’t going to revolutionise your life but when a new shopping mall makes some space for a restaurant that *tries* Southern style BBQ and swaps out a Topshop for a butcher, you will still find me smiling.
- Price – £25 upwards
- 20 New Change Passage London, EC4M 9AG
PS if someone could go in 6 months and tell me what it is like then I would be very grateful.