With every nation gastronomically represented in our capital, Londoners have become spoilt for places to eat. Standing proudly amongst the Indian and Chinese establishments are the now-ubiquitous American diners, humble yet filling eating joints that have kept hunger away across the pond for decades. A country that once found hot dogs the pinnacle of exoticism, Britain is becoming a place where pulled pork and neon Coors Light signs are more commonplace than fish and chips. Here are some stand-out joints that London has to offer.
Bodean’s Platter Courtesy of Bodean’s BBQ
Restaurant, Deli, Sandwich Shop, BBQ, $$$
Bodean's BBQ Soho, London | Courtesy of Porky's BBQ
With wooden floors, red booths, and a delicious selection of meat, Bodean’s is exactly what you’d want from an American dining experience. The staff are zealously friendly and food comes in portions that will leave you feeling drunker than a case of beer ever could (or two cases of American beer). Claims have been made that it has the best ribs this side of the Atlantic, but perhaps the shared platters are what really mark Bodean’s out as a bastion of red, white and blue nutritional joy. Chicken thighs, pulled pork, burnt ends, whole racks of ribs and sausages are amassed on your table, reminiscent of something from the Last Days of Rome. There’s five restaurants throughout the capital, including in a prestigious Soho location. Bodean’s also has an impressive drinks menu, with everything from Moosehead lager in chilled glasses to hazelnut Old Fashioneds.
Whole smoked chicken, anyone? You can get that exact dish in Porky’s, another mini-chain of American diners in London. But, as the name suggests, pigs are what you want. Porky’s pulled pork, a dish very much a la mode, is hard to beat. And to think that the cowboys and gold prospectors lived off beans. Its Southern Roots are felt through the ears and taste buds as blues accompanies BBQ flavours, the cocktails benefiting from a devastating arsenal of Kentucky Bourbons.
If the bare-bricked walls and bottled beer are a little too grubby for your refined tastes then head down to The Beaumont hotel in Mayfair. Within its hallowed walls you will find The Colony Grill Room, an upmarket restaurant that channels a nostalgic art deco feel. Don Draper or F. Scott Fitzgerald would have smoked and drunk away their time in establishments like this, eating food that was both comforting and exquisitely prepared. But don’t just take our word for it – critics have been going wild for the Grill Room, from Giles Coren to A. A. Gill. You do pay for such elegance and fine cooking – but their veal chop, for example, is easily worth it.
The real American experience doesn’t involve words like ‘artisan’ or ‘brioche bun’. As authenticity is all the rage today in London’s culinary experience, why not extend the sentiment to the cuisine of our transatlantic cousins? Perched by the river in the financial district, just down the road from Canary Wharf, sits a white and red metal trailer housing Fatboy’s Diner. It could be on Route 66, with pick-up trucks and Chevvies sitting on the dirt track outside, a Bogart or a Brando hunched over a Bud in a booth. It serves honest, flag waving American meals, stuff like mac & cheese and bacon pancakes.
In the dusty days of the Old West, the railway was the ultimate vessel of freedom. With its immense speed, its plumes of dark smoke, and its freeloading hobos, the steam train booked itself a place in the classic American landscape. That is why Caboose (the traditional name of the final carriage) is a restaurant set up in an old locomotive. In 2013, the iconography-savvy owners built their own caboose from where they serve ‘cabin food’ in Brick Lane. Dishes have been named The 3:10 to Yuma and The Derailer to further emphasise the culinary transport aesthetic, and the whole place can be booked for parties of up to 13. Despite the trendy East London setting, Caboose is not an expensive ride: five or six pounds for a burger and less for sides.