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Restaurants & Bars 1

Barbecoa [London]

gembellina | Dec 13, 201005:27 AM

I went to One New Change when it opened and quite liked the look of Jamie Oliver's new meat place. We booked a table for about a month later, and despite the appalling reviews decided to stick with it, in the hope they'd ironed out any difficulties. They haven't.

Our table was for 9.15, and we weren't seated until 9.50. We had cocktails in the meantime which were fine-ish, though they took forever to make, and I do think they should warn you if they're going to serve your bourbon hot!

Chicken livers on toast as a "small bite" was fine, though could have done with some salt. The olives on ice that he has at his Italian places were fine too.

My oysters were also fine. His pig cheek was ok, though the pickled veg on the side were oddly curry flavoured and could have done with being crunchier and more vinegary to deal with the fattiness of the pork. Our two friends had ribs, which were eaten without comment, and... something, which again wasn't good or bad enough to comment on.

Mains were two pulled pork, a spatchcock chicken and a shortrib. His shortrib was fine, though a bit bland and a bit too sweet. The pulled pork was very vinegary - possibly the style of BBQ sauce, but quite overwhelming. Served with a slice of dry, crumbly cornbread which didn't add much to the experience except carbs, and possibly the most revolting coleslaw I've ever eaten. We asked the waiter why it tased so fishy, and he said they make it with anchovy essence, because "that's how they do it in New York". It was vile, it tasted like the sauce had been made with taramasalata.

Desserts were disappointing - banana split and choc nemesis cake. The split was just a bit too elegant, and though I've never had the River Cafe nemesis, I'd be surprised if the one on offer here is the same on that gets raved over at the RC.

I think generally the problem here is that BBQ doesn't translate that well to this formal setting and presentation. I've eaten a lot of BBQ in my time and it's never been served on long rectangular plates, artfully arranged and garnished. They've got all these fancy robata grills and tandoors, but there's not a whiff of meat or smoke in the restaurant - obviously you can't have smoke billowing out into the shoping centre, but to me that means it's the wrong choice of location for this type of food, or the wrong resturant for this space. It feels oddly sterile. To me, BBQ should be woodsmoke and crackling fire and spitting meat and greasy fingers and spicy sauce and a very full tummy, not £250 for four to come away feeling unsatisfied.

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