Bodean’s

This has been my Soho saviour on many occasions. With so much to choose from in the area, sometimes all you need is the safe option of a pulled pork sandwich, a pint of Sam Adams and thirty minutes of watching some American sport you don’t understand but convince yourself that you really care about. Bodean’s gives you all of this. Today it was USA vs. Russia in the Winter Olympics ice hockey. There was whooping and hollering in true Yank style from plenty of the diners. It’s hard not to like the place, even if you do find these people bloody annoying.

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Bodean’s specialises in BBQ meat , especially pork, so don’t be tempted into going for anything else. If you come here and order the grilled veggie sandwich or Caesar salad, then you’re no person I ever want to meet and you should take a long hard look at yourself. You can come here for a more formal BBQ meal and sit downstairs, but for me it’s all about the wolfing a deli sandwich with a good cold beer. When you’re hungry and not in a mood to look over a menu of small plates with ingredients you haven’t heard of before, then what better than something that promises mounds and mounds of pulled pork stacked in a sandwich.  At £7.95 for the large version, they really aren’t lying either. This is a great value when you think that it comes with fires, a paprika or chipotle mayo, and a great choice of sauces to lube things up. A Subway sandwich wouldn’t set you back much less. The only complaint I have is the bun, which is a standard floured bun, the type you buy in a 4 pack from Warburton’s. It doesn’t ever hold and disintegrates in your hand, and it makes things a bit dry. A brioche bun here would be a real treat.

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I had the Boston Butt (£7.95 for 200g) which is pretty much the same as the Pulled Pork, except it has coleslaw in as well. Again you really get a lot for your money. The pork had a great smokiness to it, and was really juicy. A side of Nachos (£1.95) with Chilli con Queso (£1.75) was a little boring, but then again how can you make nachos interesting. These just felt a little too close to the kind you get at the cinema.

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Today the sandwich once again did the job that was required of it. It might not be the best BBQ joint in the area, try Pitt Cue Co for that. But the atmosphere and the cheap price makes it stand out, and it’ll always be a spot I come to for a quick fix. It’s also a great place to come if you want to catch some American sports, and it beats all the themed sports bars that serve flat beer and are full of tourists.

Food: 6/10

Service: N/a (it’s basically self-service, but the staff on hand are always friendly)

Atmosphere: 8.5/10

Value: 8/10

Overall: 7/10

10 Poland St, London W1F 8PZ

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Pitt Cue Co

Pitt Cue Co is a meat dungeon where no more than 30 hungry prisoners are lucky enough to be served up trays of smokey meat. On what was probably the last pleasant day of the year before the 6 month slog of winter arrives, what better way was there to spend it than in a grey windowless bunker. At least it would be helping me with the unintentional fattening up that tends to start around this time of the year.

As is the ongoing trend around Soho there are no reservations, which usually means tenting up outside the door hours before it opens, only to still somehow be told that the wait time is 2 hours the moment the doors open (fuck you Burger & Lobster). But today I beat the system and we were seated within five minutes. It feels great when you are one of the lucky twenty to have a seat, and when I left I smugly grinned at all those in line.

Downstairs really is tight. There’s barely enough room to squeeze past people without rubbing your crotch across their back. It also means that if you are a two then you’ll be sharing the table. We were cramped up next to a couple of Americans who were gasping about the quality of the BBQ (always a good sign) and as they kept knocking back more shots of bourbon were becoming increasingly more flirty with each other, to the point that they started leaning over the table to plant kisses on each other. At 12.15 on a Thursday afternoon, this made for an entertaining lunch. What makes the sharing of these small tables fun is that the food here is not neat and dainty, and instead it’s the type you get your fingers and mouth dirty with. Grinning with pulled pork clinging to my teeth at the American packed in closely to me, she gave me a grin back with BBQ sauce all around her chops. We had become table buddies, and by the end of the meal we had joined them on the bourbon shooters.

We shared a snack of beef on toast (£5) with a half pint of ‘Whatever’ (the beer on tap- £2.50). It was a surprisingly neat and tidy dish, but we soon changed that by tearing into it with our hands. If only all toast tasted as good as this. The drunk Americans next to us were so jealous that they went ahead and ordered two of them.

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Then came the pulled pork bun with a side of bone marrow mash (£9.75) . It wasn’t the biggest or messiest I’ve seen but the flavour made up for this. It had a great tangy smokiness and the bun was buttery and soft. The mash tasted of meaty caramel and was so smooth that it soon served a condiment which we dipped the bun into.

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I went for the spicy pig’s head sausage (£12.50) with crushed celeriac and leak. If this had been dinner then I’d been a bit disappointed by the size of the portion on the prison tray in front of me, but again the flavour was great. I couldn’t shake the image of McDonald’s sausages given their shape though! The picture isn’t the best, but it was taken in a dungeon!

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We were in and out within 45 minutes, so it’s ideal for a lunch or quick dinner, but hardly a place if you want to relax and let the food settle. There’s hardly enough space for the waiters to do much more than just put the trays down in front of you, but they were friendly and of course hip (although without beards- maybe this is going out of trend now?). A lunch for two with a couple of beers came to £40. I wouldn’t say that the food knocked me out, after all it is just BBQ smoked food, so I wouldn’t queue for an hour like I’m sure some people happily do. Instead I’d be more inclined to nip down the road to Bodean’s where the pulled pork sandwich isn’t quite as good, but at least you have a better chance of getting a seat and don’t feel like you’re hiding from the Luftwaffe when you do.

Food: 8/10

Service: 7.5/10

Atmosphere: 7/10

Value: 7.5/10

Overall: 7.5/10

1 Newburgh St, W1F 7RB

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