All reader reviews by dubnobass

Bodean's (Soho)

My husband and I have been going to Bodeans regularly for a few years, which must say something in itself - we wouldn't keep going back if it wasn't a good place to eat.

They serve American-style BBQ food - ribs, pulled pork, quesadillas, steak, that sort of thing, plus reasonably good cocktails and a few puddings. Their best deal is undoubtedly the 'pig out for a tenner' meal, which includes a large plate full of ribs, pulled pork, coleslaw and fries, plus a beer or soft drink. This used to be offered pretty much at all times other than Saturday nights, but now it's not seen often. 'Steak Tuesday' is a genuine buy-one-get-one-free bargain, where 2 of you can get a decent steak for £14-16. They do 'burnt ends' on certain days, which are pretty tasty and worth trying if you happen to be there on a burnt end day.

The food varies, both in quality and quantity. Sometimes you get the impression that they've changed their policy and decided to offer smaller portions, and at other times, you find yourself wondering whether you should be trying to eat the enormous mountain of food, or climb it. The ribs can be either falling-off-the-bone tender and sticky, or slightly undercooked and thus very chewy. It's either different chefs, or one very variable chef.. but they do get it right most of the time. The fries are -always- good, and usually coated in both sugar and salt. This is a touch of tasty genius.

The desserts are, I feel, a bit overpriced considering that you don't get large portions and they're £4-5 each. I was once served the key lime pie straight from the freezer so it was rock hard and couldn't actually be eaten without the whole piece shooting sideways off the plate. I am also slightly puzzled by their apple cobbler, which has been served uncooked every time I've had it. It's warm, and the apples are cooked, but it appears to be topped with raw cake mix. I actually like raw cake mixture, which is perversely why I keep ordering it, in case it's uncooked again - and it always is. Strange.

The service is usually good, and friendly (but not to the point of being annoying), but slows down at busy times, which is to be expected. Sometimes there are kids in there, squeaking, but this is less of a hazard if you book a table for the evening.

The televised sports, I'm really not interested in. The background music is interesting, varying widely from Roy Orbison to Metallica, via country and western.

Thursday, January 31, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

Wahaca (Covent Garden)

The "Mexican Wagamama" - yep. The setup is exactly the same - menus on the disposable placemats, all food arrives when ready rather than as starter then main course, and it's reasonably priced, too. You can spend as much or as little as you like and get a decent meal for £20 for 2. Unlike Wagamama, it isn't cramped, and there's plenty of room. There are also no children (or haven't been on the occasions we have visited) - possibly because it's downstairs.

It always seems very busy during the week after work, and I'm not one for queueing to get into restaurants, so we have always gone around lunchtime on Saturdays when it's oddly quiet.

The food has been somewhat hit-and-miss. On our first visit, everything seemed to have been lightly fried and left to sit under a heat lamp for a while, so we found it a bit cold, stale and greasy. When we tried again a few weeks later, it was completely different - things were hot, tasty and fresh. There are some odd ingredients here and here, presumably in an effort to keep up with their "locally resourced food" ethic, for example, I've never found cabbage in a burrito before!

Big thumbs up for the churros, which are absolutely delicious.

If there are any points lost at all, it's the staff. They're a bit too much for my liking. I like it when our order is taken quickly and brought quickly in any restaurant, and you certainly get that here, but they're a bit too in-your-face with it. They tend to interrupt you 3-4 times while you're eating, to check that everything is OK, or if you want more drinks. They need to learn the subtle art of hovering in case they are needed, and back off with the unsubtle art of pestering you every 5 minutes to check that all is OK.

On top of that, It's "guys" this, and "guys" that, constantly. "Hi guys, welcome to Wahaca guys, have you been here before guys? OK guys, let me talk you through the menu guys..". I like friendliness, but this is over-familiarity. Stoppit!

Also, their special elderflower water stuff: I would bet dollars to doughnuts that it's just Vimto - it looks like it, it tastes like it, and it's £1.75 - for a glass of Vimto.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 7 | Value for money 9

Green and Red Bar and Cantina

We arrived, and were seated on a table by the door, directly under a speaker. The music was loud enough to make my eardrums crackle. This is probably because the place is both a bar and a restaurant, but it just wasn't possible to have a conversation over the volume. Not a good start.

The service was very good - we were instantly provided with iced water, and our food and drinks orders were taken within a few minutes. I opted for the Carnitas, whilst my dining partner chose Birria. The drinks arrived and were OK, but nothing special. About 20 minutes later, the food arrived.

It was disappointing. The pork came in 3 parts - a narrow 6" strip of crackling, a 3"X3" square of pork belly (which was almost entirely fat), and 4 short ribs with 5 strips of meat hanging between them. My partner's Birria was quite a sizeable lamb shank.. This was accompanied by a crock of refried beans (not black, but the beige variety), about 8 CD-sized flour tortillas, two small pots of red and green salsa and a small pot of what I think was shredded jicama.

Another reviewer has already commented that they fought to salvage 3 forkfuls of meat amongst the fat in the pork belly and I would agree with that. I think I was supposed to have eaten the fat too, but I can't bring myself to eat chunks of warm animal fat, so didn't. The ribs gave up more meat than the pork belly, but there wasn't really very much to make a meal of. My dining partner found more to eat in their lamb shank, but said that they didn't enjoy it much, as it was tough, fatty and very spicy. I was still quite hungry after my meal, but we'd both had enough of the loud music, so paid up and left.

Perhaps this is authentic Mexican, I really don't know, but I've definitely had far nicer 'authentic Mexican' in London than this. This just wasn't enjoyable to eat, and in my case it wasn't even filling. Although the service was good, I wouldn't go back again. 1 drink and 1 main course each came to £36.

Sunday, March 18, 2007
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 1 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 0


I've been to Mestizo a couple of times now, and have had a similar experience on each occasion.

The food is excellent. Tasty, fresh, decent sized portions (well, for the mains, anyway - the starters are Mexican tapas so not huge). One of my well-travelled dining companions said the food was spot-on Mexican. I would say that the food is quite different to the usual TexMex refried beans, sour cream and tortillas that prevails in London.

The drinks are amazing - I've never had anything as nice as their frozen Margerita before, and that one drink is enough to keep me going back regularly! I don't know what on earth they put in it that's different to other places, but it's delicious.

The service is friendly and very helpful, but rather slow. This is fine if you actively want to make an evening of things (as I often do), but not if you are in a hurry. When large parties have been in, I have generally overheard them grumble, usually about the service charge. Perhaps the service is even slower for large groups than for a couple.

I have to drop a couple of points for atmosphere because Mestizo does seem to attract groups who bray and shriek a lot, and who usually smoke. This is no fun for a quiet couple of non-smokers to sit next to.

I'd summarise by saying - be prepared for slow service and you'll probably enjoy it.

Monday, March 05, 2007
Overall rating 8 stars
Food 9 | Service 8 | Atmosphere 6 | Value for money 8

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