Nick Buglione has got a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.
While London has embraced the flavours and techniques of the southern American BBQ belt, from upscale Mayfair joints like Temper through to kerbside smokin’ trucks and boxpark pop-ups, since more or less the Millennium, Kansas City-inspired Bodeans has been happily … being Bodeans.
For the Bugliones, it’s a family affair. As part of my unofficial editorial thread of good places to take the kids, Bodeans is our go-to BBQ-pit. Of course, your cosmo kids are probably happy having gorengs, smashed avo and vegan halloumi. Mine like burgers. But I am essentially a selfish man. Not so much of the sitting in “child-friendly restaurants”, settling for pokey dining just because they have crayons and baby seats (err … hello Giraffe). Bodeans gives me the best of both worlds and my dinner isn’t the victim of parental convenience.
The Guardian’s Grace Dent gave the Soho branch a surprisingly right proper mugging a while back but Bodeans Clapham has never let us down. And they do damn good ribs.
For newbies, Bodeans is your (now) standard “BBQ sports-ish joint” with a menu cuddling up to the Deep South Delta. Book a booth if you can. I’m sure they do rowdy Super Bowl nights where guys with skinny chinos and no socks blast shots till dawn, otherwise it’s all perfectly civilised. They used to do free kids’ meals, which meant when the kids were younger, I could hoover up their meals, doggy bag mine and walk out a winner, but they are onto me – the kids meals are now a three-course mini-menu and drink for less than a fiver.
The menu is a blockbuster pile-up of steaks, ribs, chicken, Texan sausage, dogs, surf ’n’turf, pulled pork, burnt ends, brisket, mac’n’cheese, burgers, wings, salads and an unexplored but decent looking vegan menu. Kids get a mini version of the grown-ups’.
Of course, the supposed secrets of the rubs remain locked in a vault somewhere, but its clear due diligence has taken place – there is a special place in hell for those that just “paint” a BBQ flavour on at the pass. Like a seasoned con in a Tennessee correctional facility, these meats have served their time in solitary marinade. I’m having the baby back slab – more or less falling off the bone finger-licking good.
Honourable mention also goes to the KC Brisket sandwich – steaming slow cooked brisket, cheese, onion ring in a big toasty bun – naked so you can make the most of Bodeans’ rack of sauces. Chipotle all the way for me. And they do impressive sharing combo platters if you and the gang want a bit of everything. Washed down with a chilled Samuel Adams. Happy days.
Dukes of Hazzard and their Daisies could go for the Boss Hogg platter (and possibly survive to tell the tale). Fries and coleslaw come with everything.
There are seven Bodeans scattered across London. I make no claims for the other outposts, but I suspect that in a world of new wave BBQ trending, bar hitting the Deep South or half term holidays in Kansas, I am sticking with the guys that have been around the block. Where’s the beef Mondale? Just a walk up Acre Lane.
169 Clapham High Street, SW4 7SS | 020 7622 4248 | bodeansbbq.com/clapham | @BodeansBBQ