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Spur of the moment decision to try Barbecoa last night, despite reviews that were all pretty negative until matthew norman’s in the telegraph the other week, it remained solidly booked with even TV’s own Jay Rayner complaining on twitter he couldn’t get a reservation (under a non de plume), luckily (?) given I rise very early, a prime 8.30 pm dining slot is nearer my bed time than apero time so it was easy enough to get a table for two on the day at errr, 6.15!

Resto looked quite small when I wandered in but wraps around to give the view of st pauls and very thing is very low level to maximise the light and view I suppose, the open kitchen showcased some very esoteric burning equipment from giant cast iron ranges, to charcoal grills and tandoors.

As I was awaiting my companion I was fending off the usual still or sparkling, olives etc requests and also stayed away from the gougy wine list with a pint of lager at £5 I think, I may be doing a disservice, it may have been £4.

Despite my resolute stance feedback from twitter suggested the bread was not to be missed so we actually ended up with nibbles of bread, pork scratchings, and chicken liver pate, these are all £4 each, bread was excellent, a pizza type flat bread, sour dough, black –treacle I assume,and good salted Cornish butter. Pork scratching were nice and crispy and porky and the 4 quenelles of liver pate were accompanied with good strips of crispy bread – though not entirely sure why we ordered it, they’d be more than sufficient for a starter I felt.

Starters proper were pork ribs and crispy pig cheek, the ribs the better dish though I expected a bit more heat, the cheeks fine but a bit one dimensional, I was happy to be sharing.

Mains of pulled pork shoulder with a relish and a welsh beef rib were both excellent, the shoulder my favourite, not sure what the garnish was but a good acidic edge to 'cut the fat' also cornbread carried it well, the beef ribs were very unctuous and I was just a bit too full by this point to do it justice.

So with 3 pints of lager and tap water the bill hit £88, possible to do it a lot cheaper the pulled pork was £16 and the star but if you head to the steaks you’re looking at double that and with wine….

So rather surprisingly given the press, it actually surpassed expectations which doesn’t often happen, matthew norman’s recent review suggested with judicious ordering a good meal could be had, and I’d agree.

you don't win friends with salad

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mathew norman isn't always wrong. I went to Barbacoa some weeks back for lunch and found it perfectly acceptable and the steaks and ribs excellent. It could do with more 'proper' Kansas style BBQ dishes though, far too many standard restaurant dishes on the menu to really justify the name. Its a nice 'space' with the sun streaming in, although the mall around is like being in Croydon.

The early reviews majored on bad service, not unusual in a new place, and I think were written in a spirit of jamie and banker bashing. It is obviously full of the latter and its not a pretty sight seeing them drink and eat our money, but that's another issue.


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Sounds well worth a punt. I admit to reading some of the initial reviews and dismissed the place as a result. Will now add it to the burgeoning list.

I usually take Matthew Norman's reviews with a pinch of salt, however it would appear perhaps I should take heed of more of them.

"So many places, so little time"



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