20 New Change Passage London, EC4M 9AG website
Background: About once a quarter, my INSEAD friend Andrew and I try to meet up for lunch somewhere in between Old Street and Fleet Street. He picks my brain about my views on online shopping (a subject on which I can assure you I am an expert) for his company farfetch.com and he buys me lunch. A pretty sweet deal if you ask me. It’s not the easiest task trying to triangulate a restaurant in exactly the right spot but given the newness and relative hype we thought Barbecoa might be a good choice. Do forgive the iPhone pics, after a full year of silence I am a little out of practice.
For what it’s worth, I like Jamie Oliver. I also happen to be one of the few people who live in England or America for that matter who have never eaten at one of his restaurants or cooked from one of his cookbooks. I do, however, admire what he has done with his restaurant Fifteen and am truly appreciative of the effort to reform the School Lunch program in my home country. God knows we need it. Let me also say that I have been a Daisy May’s fan for a long time. One of the first Street Carts to hit Manhattan, Daisy May’s introduced the pulled pork sandwich to the mid-town Manhattan lunch scene and never looked back. That said I had high hopes for Barbecoa even if it was housed in a shopping mall.
The Meal: I am generally not a fan of eating in restaurants housed in shopping centres. You could perhaps attribute it to my New Yorker view towards suburban living or something else entirely I am not sure. The last meal I ate in a mall was a corn dog with my late grandmother when I was about 10 and I haven’t yet fully recovered. But One New Change is kind of different. It is mostly open air and extremely helpful if you happen to need a last minute outfit and can only spare 30 minutes from work. So off we went to Barbecoa on the second floor of One New Change.
Since it was a lunch date, we weren’t going to go all out and order starters and mains. So Andrew ordered the Barbecoa Burger with Westcombe Cheddar, Smoked Bacon, Sweet Onions, Pickles and Chips and I went for the Pulled Pork Shoulder with Coleslaw, BBQ Sauce & Jalapeño Cornbread ( seems we weren’t dead set on making it a light meal after all), we also ordered the Curly Kale with Rosemary, Anchovy and Garlic.
I personally love a chef who imposes his view of the world upon a dish. I believe that all burgers should come replete with cheese and bacon so the sound and look of the Barbecoa Burger was right up my alley. Disappointingly, Andrew took the bacon off without even trying it or waiting for me to take the picture (I made him put it back on), but I will forgive him this small injustice. A rather more serious injustice which cannot be forgiven was the servers’ failure to ask how he wanted his burger cooked. Our mistake for not having noticed, but given the ambient noise level was verging on bursting; it is easy to see how we missed it. Thus, the burger arrived well-done. A crime in my opinion, but I bet the rare/medium rare version is really good.
As you can probably tell, I can get a little sentimental over burgers. I also have a real soft spot for pulled pork, so much so that we served it at the rehearsal dinner for our wedding. Needless to say I was excited. Maybe the mention of BBQ sauce as a line item should have been a hint but the meat was absolutely doused in it. Overall it was good, but I was hoping for the tenderness to come from the pork rather than the sauce. The cornbread, however, was really nice with a good bite from the jalapeño and not heavy. Surprisingly, for a restaurant showcasing meat, the real shining stars of the lunch were the sides. The coleslaw and kale were great. And not just great for vegetables, but really good in their own right.
Closing thoughts: The meal was decent. The service was slow and a bit spotty and the noise for a Friday lunch was almost unbearable. The burger had the potential to be great; the pork needed a couple more hours and a lot less sauce but also has the makings of a great dish. But all in all, its just not there yet, but the sides are enough to bring me back to give it another shot.
Silverware: Nice looking and substantial.
Damage: I was treated!