Wednesday, 25 May 2011
Bodean’s, Soho, 10 Poland Street, London, W1F 8PZ
Bodean's - the stuff of Dolly Parton songs (yes, there is one version on YouTube though not by her) and pastrami dreams ...
One Saturday afternoon, after having many consecutive meals of Chinese, Japanese and Indian origins, we decided to venture out of our comfort zone and have something different. Now, in a city as big as London, you can find anything and everything if you know where to look for it. Thing is, what did we want to try? We'd seen something on the telly (Food Network, no less) about pulled pork, and while I can safely say that I can probably imagine what it'll taste like (being pork, and being pulled), we thought, why not push the boat out and actually try the very stuff it's made of.
Prior to this, in those cold, dark student days, I used to stand outside takeaways wishing and hoping for a whiff of kebab, or maybe even just the ketchup.
That was a joke. I just ate leftovers from my housemates, really.
The husband and I have been to Bodean's once before, this actual Soho one to be precise. I'd ordered the ribs combo, being a big fan of BBQ ribs, and the husband had ordered the pastrami on rye, which was kinda OK at the time. The fries apparently, have some sort of special seasoning on it, making it sweet and salty at the same time. I like.
There were 6 of us there for lunch that day - 4 of whom had not tried anything similar to this before. All the more reason to get one of everything from each section of the menu.
It might be worth noting at this point that we were dining in the upstairs area of Bodean's, ie the diner section.
There is a restaurant section, usually downstairs, where they serve more elaborate stuff. Check out the diner menu here, and the restaurant menu here.
Baby Back Ribs & Pulled Pork 14.95 (Served with fries & coleslaw)
OK, the pulled pork. The reason we came to Bodean's in the first place. How was it? Erm, let's just say I probably won't order it again. I'm sure it's famous for a reason, and maybe this version wasn't the best I could have had, but to me, this was dry, stringy (which is understandable considering it's pulled) and had the tendency of getting stuck in my teeth quite a lot.
Without the help of Bodean's bottled BBQ sauce, I don't think we could've gotten through even a quarter of the portion served. Compared to the burnt ends, this was no match. The ribs were nice, though a little dry but flavourful all the same.
Pastrami on Rye (6.95 / 8.95)
A classic Pastrami thinly sliced and stacked high the Bodean's way, served on toasted rye bread with French's Mild Mustard
This was what the husband ordered, and I had no qualms about taking more than a few big bites of it. Like I said, we'd had it once before and it was kinda so-so, but this time, it seemed to have redeemed itself somewhat (I heard Bodean's is famous for its pastrami).
Thick slices of peppery, salty, pastrami (slightly chewy in a bouncy way, not in a tough way) with gherkins in toasted bread (they didn't have any rye bread that day, but it's not as if we like it very much anyway). There was a lot of oooh-ing and aaaaah-ing when it was brought to the table, as most of us had not seen pastrami before, let alone tried it.
It seemed to be never-ending as well, as the husband was one of the first to eat and the last to finish; with a look of concentration on his face usually reserved for rocket scientists writing out their PhD thesis. I was fully supportive of him, as wives should be, giving him an encouraging pat, and a nibble or two on said sandwich when I felt he needed the help.
1/4 Pound All-Beef Hot Dog 5.95 (Add Chili 6.95)
Chicago’s best kosher dog, topped with your choice of grated cheese, jalapenos, grilled onions or Sauerkraut. Served with fries
This was what my friend ordered, and she was having a cold so I suppressed my Take A Bite Of Everyone's Food ("TABOEF") tendencies, and merely asked her, very calmly, what she thought of it.
To which she replied, 'Good, it's nice'; a reply which I feel could have been further substantiated by my having a bite of it.
Maybe she was calling my bluff, and wasn't really having a cold. Maybe she knew about this TABOEF tendency. Maybe she wanted the hot dog all to herself. Maybe.
BBQ Burnt Ends and Pulled Pork Combo 12.50
Slow-smoked chunks of beef brisket served in a light BBQ Sauce. Served with fries & coleslaw
I'm going on Wikipedia right now to find out what burnt ends are, because they sure aren't burnt, nor were they ends. To me, and everyone at the table, it looked like pieces of stewed beef in some BBQ-flavoured sauce, and it sure was nice. The best thing we ordered at Bodean's, in fact, which probably explains why they're famous for it. Anyway, going back to the question of what burnt ends are.
Directly quoting from Wikipedia - 'Burnt ends are flavourful pieces of meat cut from the point half of a smoked brisket. A traditional part of Kansas City Barbecue, burnt ends are considered a delicacy in barbecue cooking. Either the entire brisket is cooked whole, then the point end removed and cooked further, or the point and flat are separated prior to cooking. Due to the higher fat content of the brisket point, it takes longer to fully cook to tender and render out fat and collagen. This longer cooking gave rise to the name "burnt ends". Sometimes when the flat is done, the point is returned to the smoker for further cooking. Some cooks re-season the point at this time.Kansas City style burnt ends are usually served cubed with sauce either on top or on the side. A "proper" burnt end should display a modest amount of "bark" or char on at least one side. Burnt ends can be served alone (sometimes smothered in barbecue sauce) or in sandwiches, as well as in a variety of other dishes, including baked beans and gumbo.'
Now we know.
Whatever it was, it was fantastic. So much so that we ate all the burnt ends first, and was full by the time we got to the pulled pork.
On the whole, we had a nice, relaxing, noisy lunch at this diner restaurant, and definitely got to try quite a few items we'd not previously had before. We enjoyed most of it, and now that we know what we like here, we'll probably return to try those out and more.