For many people barbecue conjures up images of their Dad incinerating a frozen chicken leg under an umbrella during a typically damp English summer. For Americans, barbecue is one of the most distinctive and well-loved elements of their food heritage. Styles vary wildly but at its heart it’s about good meat, slow cooking and delicious sauces. Bodeans was one of the first restaurants to bring a real taste of this to London and it had a hand in creating the current craze for pulled pork. But with the arrival of ‘serious’ barbecue places last year (Pitt Cue Co/John Salt) and their ‘gentrification’ (see Barbecoa) – is there still space for a cheaper, simpler alternative?
Bodeans have a number of outlets, most of which operate a walk-in only policy. Their Soho branch is spread over two floors, a deli/bar at ground level and a basement sit down restaurant. The décor is Americana and mimics a sports bar. TV screens show baseball and ice hockey while music is at a reasonable level – it’s a fun and relaxed environment.
The menu is a meat eaters paradise – this is not one for the rabbit food brigade. I’ve sampled a few of their dishes before (and even taken advantage of their ‘click and collect’ BBQ lunches) but this was the first time I’ve tackled the entire selection in one go. Their ‘Boss Hog Platter’ is great value and gives you short ribs, spare ribs, baby back ribs, chicken thighs, smoked sausages, burnt ends and pulled pork – with coleslaw and chips on the side. A selection of sauces (the hot chipotle is excellent) is on the table along with much needed kitchen towel.
Overall the food is good – it’s not up to the standard of John Salt or Pitt Cue Co, but it’s not trying to be. It’s simple, tasty cooking with generous portions. I’ve have liked more sauce to be applied in the kitchen, taken on its own the beef rib and the pulled pork were a tad dry, but you can fix that yourself very easily. They could also make more of the provence of their food – London is bursting at the seams with great suppliers. They offer a few desserts – ice cream and cheesecakes, but I’m a sucker for a decent milkshake.
They’re nicely thick and the ice-cream base is good quality – my only request would be to offer an alcoholic version!
If you’re looking for big piles of meat with delicious sauce and sides – you can’t go far wrong. It’s relaxed fun and a great way to spend an evening with your mates while trying to figure out how baseball works.