IF you know where to look, there are still plenty of places in the City where you can have gristly pies, waterlogged vegetables and boiled potatoes smeared with marge for your lunch. However, in the past years the City’s restaurants have changed beyond recognition, with a sprinkling of Michelin stars and one of the country’s most innovative restaurants, St John, on the City borders in Smithfield, where ox heart or pig’s trotters are as likely to be on the menu as steak and chips.
Now two of the new restaurants at One New Change also promise to be destination restaurants not just for the City, but for the whole of London. First there is Barbecoa, a new concept from Jamie Oliver and American chef Adam Perry Lang.
The two met in Perry Lang’s restaurant Daisy May’s BBQ in New York, bonded over a shared love of grilled meat and say they drew up the concept for Barbecoa on a napkin while on a skiing holiday. Barbecoa is a 200-seat meat-lover’s paradise, with five types of grill including a tandoor, a Japanese robata, and Argentine-style grill, wood-fired ovens and a smoker.
“It’s about cooking with fire, wood and charcoal and using different pieces of equipment from around the world,” said Perry Lang earlier this week, with all sorts of clattering and training going on in the restaurant. “It’s very different form anything we’ve seen in the UK before, we have our own dry-ageing room, a pit where you can hang lamb and other animals from hooks and cook slowly over coals.”
The range of equipment will give them freedom to cook in all sorts of styles, and the tandoor will be used for “flatbreads and skewers” and other dishes as well as traditional Indian-accented food. As for pricing, starters begin at £7 for roast squash salad and £12 for crab cakes while a burger will set your back £16 and a fillet steak £28. Perry Lang is proud that they will also be offering unusual dishes such as pulled shoulder of pork (£16) and a “beer-can chicken” – where the chicken is, yes, cooked with a can of beer inside it to ensure tenderness – costing £30 for two.
The idea of Barbecoa is to offer a “two-tiered” restaurant where you can go with friends in the evening and also impress, the double-thick pork chop or the three-and-a-half-inch dry-aged rib-eye steak for three to share.
Of course, the location is key to the concept. At the moment, just about the only place where there is money to spend on this sort of food is the City. “The City will be our bread and butter in the week but of course we’ll welcome the tourists and the shoppers and everyone else,” says Oliver. “The City’s really important to us. Originally we were meant to open somewhere else. We very nearly got a place on Brick Lane but it didn’t work out so we were looking around for a location when One New Change turned up. The view of St Paul’s is just fantastic and so right away we all got excited.”
Barbecoa will be joined at the start of 2011 by a second innovative restaurant, Bread Street Kitchen by Gordon Ramsay. This new concept will be presided over by Stuart Gillies, who is also in charge of the Grill at the Savoy. So far details are few and far between, but there will be a raw bar, with pickled fish, home-made pastrami and charcuterie. They will announce the rest soon, but here’s betting it’s meaty and good. Farewell, lunchtime pies.
Barbecoa opens on 5 November
Bread Street Kitchen opens in early 2011
ONE NEW CHANGE FOOD
The growing burger chain has kept its quality high, and they still still say they grind all the meat for the burgers at 5am the day you eat it, “from select cuts of rump, chuck and brisket”. At about a tenner for burger and fries, it is sure to become a City lunchtime favourite.
BEA’S OF BLOOMSBURY
Cupcakes are the thing at the second branch of this cake and tea joint, whose afternoon teas are the stuff of legend. A sure-fire spot for informal meetings, as well as pit-stops for shoppers. See right.
Started by a pair of Australians, this is one of the newest of the healthy fast food chains, serving seasonal mix and match salads, wraps and sandwiches. Big down under, this is their second UK – and second City – store.
AND COMING SOON… GORDON RAMSAY
Ramsay hasn’t announced exactly what he will do in his One New Change location, but his first City restaurant will be a brand-new mid-level concept rather than fine dining. We’ll find out more when it opens in early 2011.