I love food! I also love films, and Forrest Gump is definitely in my ‘top 10 movies of all time list’ (but that’s a post for another time!) So, when I heard the Forrest Gump themed ‘Bubba Gump Shrimp’ restaurant was opening it’s first UK branch in London I knew I had to visit. I finally got around to going last month and wasn’t disappointed…
Convenient for tourists and locals alike
Being within easy walking distance from several stations (including Leicester Square tube and Charing Cross main line) the restaurant has obviously been located to lure in the tourists. Especially when you consider the M&M shop, Nickelodeon store and The Prince of Wales Theatre are all literally on the doorstep. If you are familiar with London, it occupies the building in which you used to be able to find Planet Hollywood.
You feel totally emerged in the film as soon as you enter the front door. The small ground floor houses a gift shop and the waiting area has plenty of nods to the film. We arrived at what I’d consider to be an off-peak time (5 pm on a weekday) so the waiting area was almost empty, but being very small I imagine it gets quite cramped during busy periods. The restaurant is up the stairs and I loved the decor. It’s as you would expect for a themed restaurant including props and memorabilia plus quotes and stills from the film but in my opinion executed to perfection. I loved that the drinks menu was printed between a table tennis bat and that the many televisions throughout the restaurant were either playing the full film, or American sports games.
Not quite something for everyone, but plenty for seafood lovers!
Clearly, the menu is very ‘fish heavy’ and this is definitely not a restaurant I would recommend for vegetarians! As a seafood lover I was spoilt for choice. Many of the dishes are either fried or contain a lot of cheese, but there are some grilled dishes served without chips (or fries) for those watching their cholesterol levels! I loved that many of the dishes were those mentioned by the Bubba character in the film when he lists all the ways to serve shrimp (love that scene!) and there are also dishes named after other characters (including my favourite Lieutenant Dan). Drinks wise, in addition to the standard selection of soft drinks the cocktails selection is decent. They have the usual themed restaurant trick of getting you to spend more on drinks by offering standard cocktails at around £10 or the option of the drink plus a souveneer glass to take home for a couple of pounds extra. Main meals cost anything between £10 to £25 so as you’d expect for a central London tourist hotspot, but I thought the quality of food matched the price, as discussed later! A gluten free menu is available and to be honest I didn’t pay it much attention, but noticed there were only a few dishes. Their menu is available online here.
Right from arrival it was obvious the restaurant brought their American service with them to the UK. And I mean that as a compliment! A host greeted us enthusiastically. He (and as we later found out most of the staff) wore a headset to communicate with each other and it meant the service was both personal and extremely efficient; when it was our turn to be seated the host let the greeter at the top of the stairs know we were on our way and also told him our names so we were greeted with a personal touch. Our waiter was great; explaining the menu, chatting film trivia and making personal recommendations. All theme restaurants have their gimmicks but the Bubba Gump one is actually pretty useful. Every table has two signs and as the customer you chose which one to display ‘Run Forrest Run’ or ‘Stop Forrest Stop’. If you display the first you will be left alone to enjoy your food, drink and conversation. Display the second and a waiter or waitress stops at your table the next time one walks past. In theory, this means no waiting around for your order to be taken or to ask for the bill, but you are also not disturbed half way through a mouthful of food to be asked “is everything OK?”. I appreciated this! And it worked in practice when we dined, but I’d be interested to see if it is as effective at busier periods. All wait staff also wore t-shirts (merchandise from the shop obvs!) printed with the best Forrest quotes such as ‘Life is like a box of chocolates’.
I had a tough time making a decision and almost went for the coconut shrimp seeing as it was a fusion of two of my favourite flavours. In the end I decided bigger was better and ordered ‘Forrest’s Seafood Feast’ – 3 types of breaded fish served with chips and dips. All of the fish was melt in the mouth more-ish, my favourite being the shrimp (of course!). At £15.50 it is one of their mid-priced dishes but actually great value; I had no trouble finishing off the fish but barely ate half of the chips so in reality you could split this dish between two, and then still have room for dessert (which we didn’t!) My husband had the surf and turf; a great option for those who want a taster of the fish but are red-meat lovers at heart. Of course I had to try some for research purposes! The shrimp was perfectly seasoned and the ribs exactly as they should be – drenched in barbecue sauce and tender enough to be pulled apart with your fingers!
So in summary? Clearly if you are a fan of neither seafood or Forrest Gump this won’t be the place for you. But if you are a fan of both, it shouldn’t be missed! You can follow Bubba Gump Shrimp London on twitter @bubbagumpuk1