Bodean’s is an American barbecue chain restaurant, its first branch opened in 2002, long before London’s recent barbecue boom, and it now boasts four locations (Clapham, Soho, Fulham and Tower Hill). The Clapham branch is very close to Clapham Common tube station and it is decked out like an American diner, with large booths and a fleet of pretty waitresses. There are lots of big screens showing US sports from noon to dusk – the website has a schedule of games (for example, tonight you can witness the spectacle of an ice hockey match between Nashville (an unlikely place to have an ice hockey team?) and Anaheim. Having eaten at the fantastic Pitt Cue and the rather disappointing Beard to Tail, I was very interested to see how the “old man” of the London barbecue scene would shape up.
The menu focuses on ribs and pulled pork, but also strays into burgers, steaks, tex-mex and creole. But there are none of the more unusual bits and pieces that appear in hipster barbecue menus (bone marrow, trotters, ears etc.). They have a decent range of American beers, with popular names like Samuel Adams and Blue Moon, as well as some craft beers like Old Dominion stout from Delaware. I had the slow-smoked beef brisket chunks (“burnt ends”) and pulled pork, which were served with chips and coleslaw (£13.95). The portion size was very generous and would have possibly been enough for two to share. The pulled pork was a tad dry, even though it had been recently smothered in barbecue sauce – I think it had been waiting to be plated up for quite a while. It was not a patch on the pulled pork I had at Pitt Cue. The brisket was also a tad dry and rather chewy in places, I think it may have been cooked a bit too quickly (but the meat was full of smoky flavour). The chips on the side were disappointing and tasted as if they had been cooked from frozen. So, all in all I was underwhelmed by my meal, the standard of American barbecue food in London has improved drastically over the past year or so, and I think Bodean’s may have been left behind.
Bodean’s is a good place to watch American sports and the food is fine, but for a proper barbecue I recommend the place that puts the “queue” in bbq: Pitt Cue.