Yesterday I ventured into the buzzing strip of Leicester Square to hunt down ‘Bubba Gump’s’ at the Trocadero which opened in London on the 1st of this month. Its first ever UK opening makes it the 43rd restaurant to be sharing its chirpy theme and shrimp worldwide, and any fan of the 1994 film, ‘Forrest Gump’, will be overwhelmed with the constant reference to the boy that once couldn’t run and his fictional life.
Welcomed by the very bench that Forrest tells his story, I knew that the themed restaurant would out-do themselves. Apart from the non-accidental walk through the gift shop before you reach the restaurant, you wouldn’t be able to tell that Bubba’s has become a hugely successful corporate chain – the staff are extremely happy and service, compared to many other corporate restaurants that seem too busy to care, is on point from the start (filled with themed service signs to signal your waiter/waitress, trivia quizzes for a free ice cream and FREE LIGHT UP PINT GLASSES) – basically won over a good review before I’d even tasted the shrimp.
I’ve had a lot of people ask me if they sell anything other than shrimp and the answer is yes, although the option to add shrimp and seafood is everywhereeee on the menu (it all began with Forrest honouring Bubba’s wish for a shrimp business after all). Many dishes are named after the character’ from the Tom Hank film, staying true to its theme with ‘Jenny’s Catch’, ‘Mama’s Bread Pudding’ and ‘Lt. Dan’s Surf and Turf’ which btw, is next on my list. It was practically impossible for the BFF and I to pick something as it all sounded so good and more than that, was something different! Eventually, I went for the ‘Dumb Luck Coconut Shrimp’ which came with a very generous portion of fries, coleslaw and Cajun Marmalade which was insane, although not so coconutty. Carly went all out for something different with the ‘Bourbon Street Mahi Mahi’ which we later found out was a type of fish, covered in bourbon sauce, shrimp and mashed potato – looked devine fyi and she polished it off, so I don’t think there were any complaints. The food came literally minutes after ordering, at which time, we were still getting excited over our Blue and Mango Lemon-Up cocktails and trying our luck at the film trivia quiz (Forrest ran for a total of 3 years, 2 months… not 15 years – woops)
It’s hard to say a bad thing about our time at Bubba’s, because the effort put in to make it a good time and bring back every little detail from ‘Forrest Gump’, from infamous quotes on every inch of the walls to drink menus on a ping pong paddle, as well as the whole team coming together to sing to the guy next table to us who was celebrating his birthday, was outstanding, making the experience more memorable than the food. My only concern, and probably the most important thanggg was our lack of shrimp – the portions were huge and the food was flawless but the fries to shrimp ratio, particularly on my meal, was too noticeable. And after all, we did go for the shrimp (and the free merchandise).
Despite that minor critique, because you can double up on shrimp for a decent price, the whole experience was enjoyable. We didn’t get the time to indulge in desserts but the choice was next to none. Everything from the soundtrack to the decor to the price, was brilliant, and if you are a fan of both seafood and the Academy Award winning movie OR you’re just looking for somewhere fun and light-hearted for a good price then ‘Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.’ is the place to be and definitely worth the visit. Even those determined not to cave when re-entering the Market on exit, will one hundred percent leave with a ‘Forrest Gump’ sign or a keyring or a ‘Bubba Gump’ baseball cap (or the whole lot).
Overall rating – 8/10 – I am fo’sure making another trip to taste everything on the menu and to pick up another light up pint glass (obvs).