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Missing a beat at Barbecoa

July 19, 2012

Barbecoa has been open for a year or so now, and was still on my list of places to visit. We were looking for somewhere to go after a theatre matinee and the location suited. I managed to book a table so off we set.

First impressions were good. Friendly staff at the entrance and in the bar, where we sat for a short while as we arrived early. We were shown to our table and considered the menu for a little while. The waitress answered our questions about a couple of dishes and we placed our order. A jug of water arrived and then our wine – a tasty malbec.

To start, J had the bourbon chicken wings and I went for the Lyme Bay crab plate. J described the chicken wings as very good and the crab plate was excellent – very refreshing with lots of crab and clean flavours. Portion sizes were very generous. On to the main courses, and things started to go a little awry. We both chose items from the Texas Pit Smoker selection. J had the short rib and I went for the pulled pork shoulder. Neither of us was overly impressed with our dishes. J found hers to be lacking in flavour and my pulled pork was definitely not the melt in the mouth dish I had been expecting – it was somewhat dry and ‘lumpy’, the BBQ sauce too sweet and cloying and the waffle an unnecessary filler. The main courses were not awful, but could have been much better.

We decided to try desserts as there were some tempting options on the menu. J went for the ultimate chocolate & peanut butter sundae – a towering dessert in a tall sundae dish. A little too much whipped cream perhaps but the rest of the dessert met with her approval. I went for the warm apple & custard brioche with muscovado ice cream and was very disappointed with it. The brioche was dry and lacked any buttery flavour – I needed the ice cream just to eat it!

And then the evening took a turn for the worst…

Our dessert plates were collected by a different person – not our waitress – who asked if everything was OK and ignored my response as I started to explain about the disappointing brioche, much of which I had left on my plate… not good. Our waitress then came over to ask us to take our coffee at the bar as our table was needed for another booking. We questioned this and were told that the restaurant policy is a 2 hour sitting. I checked my booking confirmation and saw that it clearly stated that tables might be needed after 2 and half hours – and we had not yet hit that limit. The restaurant manager insisted that the 2 hour policy stood so we cancelled coffee, paid and left – with a distinctly nasty taste in the mouth…

Apart from the starters, Barbecoa was a real disappointment. The food could have been so much better and the off-handed way in which we were treated at the end of the meal was unnecessary and unwelcome. A complimentary digestif to compensate for the confusion for example could have recovered the situation and given us a great customer service story to tell. Instead, we will not be returning and have a very different tale to tell…

Barbecoa on Urbanspoon

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