Okay, an American gal may be BBQ’s toughest critic, so plenty probably enjoy Bodean’s. I, however, decided that I won’t be heading back to the Soho spot, therefore, making Bodean’s BBQ an unfortunate Don’t.
My husband and I stopped in for a weeknight meal. We took note of the upstairs cafeteria style setup, but headed down to the main restaurant. There was a short wait, but we had ourselves a table within fifteen minutes. The place had a retro, sports bar feel, complete with a wall-mounted TV showing the recent big game. I liked the atmosphere and was ready to indulge on sticky, sweet, tangy, sloppy BBQ.
The menu had lots of choices, but my sole purpose of the evening was to have a pulled pork sandwich, so all I needed to do was choose my sides. My husband was a little undecided and made the mistake of asking for another minute. Then we never saw our server again. My stomach was eating itself or some small organ next to it while I cursed him for not being able to decide between the combo or basic “Burnt Ends” platter fast enough. I eventually flagged down a completely different man and bombarded him with our order. This was the first red flag of service issues at Bodean’s, and unfortunately it was waved within fifteen minutes of being seated.
After that, I sat and watched and salivated towards the platter the couple who arrived later than us received. Finally, our food came, and it was pretty good. My pulled pork was definitely the winner over my husband’s “Burnt Ends” (smoked brisket), but doesn’t it always? The sandwich needed a huge kick of flavor and moisture so I added a heavy dose of the table BBQ sauces. The sauces had good flavor, though, so I didn’t really mind having to add my own finishing touches. My sandwich also needed some cheese, so I added our side of macaroni and cheese right on top and eventually had some version of perfection. The mac and cheese solo was also good, as were the sweet potato fries. I really sorted my meal out to recreate the combinations and tastes I miss from home.
Unfortunately, there’s one other hugely important component of great BBQ. Corn bread. And this, my friends, was the worst corn bread I have ever had in my life. Like so bad. To the point that I felt the establishment should be paying me to consume a tasteless brick, not the other way around. I wondered if it was a bad batch, but it seemed unlikely. This was just a bland, dense recipe that the owners probably have never tried. They entrusted their chef to google one and throw it on the menu. Or maybe it comes frozen. It’s that gross. I would like to bring in a few of my outstanding BEST ever cornbread recipes to Bodean’s BBQ and say “See?! This is what it’s supposed to taste like!!”
But, cornbread in itself isn’t enough to take down the whole restaurant and land it in the Don’t category. The service is what sunk this ship. That horrible glimpse we got at the beginning of the night carried through the entire evening. We sat with empty plates in front of us for far too long. I pulled a server, yet again, to clear/wrap/bring the check. We then sat with our wrapped leftovers in front of us for far too long. I pulled another server to bring the check/run the card. We then sat with our check and card in front of us for far too long. I pulled a server, for the last time, who ran the card and we were finally free. It felt like we were escaping a basement prison cell by that point. As we fled through the upstairs quick-dining area, I wondered if we would have had an easier go up there. But, after the annoying lower-level experience, I don’t think I care to find out.
As I said earlier, I’m a tough critic on this one, so at your own risk. If you have a better experience, please share, and Bodean’s, let me know if you want to try some quality cornbread!!
10 Poland Street
London W1F 8PZ