Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Magazine article The Spectator

Food: Tanya Gold

Article excerpt

Barbecoa is Jamie Oliver's new restaurant on Piccadilly, and no matter how many times I mutter the name, I do not know what it means, if it means anything; it may be a posh riff on barbecue, which does not need gentrifying, because barbecue is cuisine's mass murder. The only other mention I can find is the original Barbecoa in St Paul's. This is Barbecoa 2, then: the sequel.

I used to like Jamie Oliver, or the idea of him. I liked his willingness to be a spokes-chef; to damn parents who feed their children Turkey Twizzlers and roof insulation; I liked that he is fat. Then I ate at Jamie's Italian in Soho and met a plank resting on two tins of tomato paste bearing greasy salami and cold cheese, and steak frites that thought they were Italian, and I stopped liking him.

I began to think him cynical and money-grubbing. There is a peculiar depravity to the mid-market family restaurant in central London that offers bad value through a good name, and I cannot forgive Jamie for pretending he was different; for pretending, as he ripped up basil with his bare hands and told men, yeah, you can cook, that he was my mate. (That is the evil of television. Fake intimacy.) The dish may have been called Jamie's Plank, but I do not remember. I hope it was. It should have been, even if the plank was me.

Barbecoa 2, then: it is neurotically vast, on two floors. London restaurants are big these days: what are they trying to say? Do they even know? Are they preparing to solve the housing crisis? Or is it a competition between chefs who have yet to experience Freudian psychoanalysis, and so think: 'Who can build the biggest and stupidest brasserie-style abyss in which credulous diners can waste their money?'

It is next to Bafta, and opposite Pret a Manger. …

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