Peter Morrell enjoys an immersive eating experience themed around his favourite film
Although it is 20 years old the film Forrest Gump starring Tom Hanks is still as fresh and funny as the day it was released, it is one of my favourite films. So when I heard that a restaurant themed around the film was opening in London I just had to go and eat there.
Although this is the first branch in the UK, the first Bubba Gump opened in 1996 on Cannery Row in Monteray, California and there are now around 40 locations world-wide including Hollywood and Orlando. The restaurant in London is very conveniently positioned in the Trocadero, which sits between Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square.
The wood clad interior of the restaurant is covered in vintage memorabilia from the film and the southern U.S. States. The atmosphere is busy and buzzy with both booths and tables filled with people introducing their kids and grand kids to the Forrest Gump experience. One of the fun things is the car licence plates on the tables, “Stop Forrest Stop” will get the server’s attention and “Run Forrest Run” means, I’m OK with everything.
Our very friendly and entertaining server took my dining companion and I through the extensive list of cocktails and, if you have got children with you, they can join in, drinking mocktails like vanilla frozen yoghurt and Oreo cookie crumbs. While perusing the menu I sipped on a Lava Flow, aka a highly exotic pina colada, while stealing a few tastes of my companion’s very alcoholic Georgia peach iced tea.
As the name of the restaurant implies shrimp features heavily on the menu, and as Forrest says in the film “Life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get”. In this case you know its shrimp but the surprise is just how many different and inventive ways they can be cooked.
The starters all looked appetising, popcorn shrimps, calamari, fried onion strings and prawn cocktail were all tempting but we eventually chose to share a main course, the Shrimper’s Heaven. Four large cones on a stand appeared, three pack with large shrimps and one with crunchy French fries. The combination was made up of plain boiled, coconut covered and tempura shrimps. Each had a dipping sauce, zesty cocktail, tangy asian and cajun. The shrimps were all good and the light, crisp tempura batter just edged it as the winner.
There is a good selection of mains, featuring both salads, fish and meat from the grill. My companion’s New Orleans inspired garlic and spice shrimps served with jasmine rice was packed with flavour. My Dixie style baby back ribs had been marinated in a home made barbeque sauce, they were both meaty and fall off the bone tender.
The portion sizes had been huge so desserts were beyond us but our server did walk us through the menu. The shortcake with strawberries, ice cream and nuts looked appealing as did the cookies with ice cream and cream. If the decision is all too much then there is a three dessert sampler.
Drinks wise there is a good selection of beers and reasonably priced wines served by the glass and the bottle. I had a very drinkable cabernet sauvignon and my companion liked her aromatic sauvignon blanc.
This really is a fun place to take children, the servers will give them a Forrest Gump quiz to keep them entertained between courses and they have their own separate menu featuring favourites like pizza, fish and chips, and a burger, all served with French fries. Their reward for eating all their food is the chance to build their own sundae with ice cream, cookies and sauces.
I really enjoyed the Bubba Gump Shrimp Company experience and can’t wait to take my grand daughter, I might even buy her a shrimp shaped cuddly toy in the shop of the way out.
Bubba Gump Shrimp Company
13 Coventry Street
London, W1D 7AB