Bubba Gump Shrimp Co Soho
Trocadero, 7-14 Coventry St, Piccadilly Circus, W1D 7DH
020 3763 5288/http://www.bubbagump.com
I don’t normally review chain restaurants but there has been a lot of social media excitement about American seafood group Bubba Gump’s first UK opening, and being a sucker for gastro-novelty I decided to investigate. I have had good experiences in the USA at similar places such as the Pinchers Crab Shack chain in south-west Florida and was quite excited by the hype.
Situated on the same site where the execrable Planet Hollywood resided, you are greeted by worryingly upbeat staff who bombard you with Forest Gump trivia questions, because this is, if you hadn’t realised it by now, a Forest Gump themed restaurant originally conceived by the media company Viacom who then sold it on.
There are now over 30 outlets globally, including the Times Square flagship, with this the first in the UK chain run by franchise partner Al Mubarakia. It has 400 seats across two floors and there is also a shop selling merchandise on the ground floor. All this should have had alarm bells ringing but I was pulled in by the visual onslaught and the pizzazz.
Needing a drink I ordered a Blood Orange Margarita (£7.50), a blend of blood orange liqueur, cranberry juice and sweet and sour. It had all the subtlety and appeal of a mildly alcoholic orange Fanta.
Crab stuffed mushrooms (£5.95) were a plate of small field mushrooms topped with a ‘Parmesan’ mush with no discernable crab flavour and swamped in a citrusy cheesy sauce.
Shrimper’s Heaven (£19.50) was presented as four paper cones all padded out with dry raw shredded cabbage at the bottom. Coconut shrimp begged the question where’s the coconut? Chilled Peel’n Eat Shrimp was tasteless. Tempura Shrimp had a claggy batter and again lacked flavour. Fries were limp and extremely over-salted .
The American empire is over. This feels like an old concept looking for new markets executed in a way that feels like a cynical marketing ploy than a place that is interested in nourishing people on any level. Keep running Forrest…