Great Britain is not exactly known for its delightful cuisine, so oftentimes visitors just want a taste of something familiar. It's why US chains like McDonald's can thrive overseas.
For Gulf shrimp aficionados, traveling to London no longer means abandoning your love of fried seafood, as the popular American chain Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. just opened in the Trocadero district.
Early reviews indicate Houston-area businessman Tilman Fertitta’s Forrest Gump-themed restaurant has disgruntled local eaters already. Timeout London gave the restaurant, which has been open for all of two days now, a two-star rating and complained about some overenthusiastic hospitality to go along with mediocre, "over-seasoned" food:
The most upsetting thing about eating here, though, is the service. Well-meaning is better than aloof, but in this case, the over-eager staff, themselves drafted in from every nation, were like wasps at a picnic. Trained to be ‘US-style’ friendly, they were constantly intruding to ask ‘how we were doing’ (‘fine, if you’d only go away and stop interrupting’), annoying us with snippets of Gumpian trivia, and quizzing us on our own Gump-based knowledge, ‘because it’s fun, isn’t it?’ (It isn’t.)
It’s hardly a surprise—given how cultural norms and approaches for restaurants sometimes vary drastically from country to country—that a big American seafood chain hasn’t been popular in London. But with its location in a massive tourist district and a 400-seat, two-floor space that is open to until midnight, jet-lagged and homesick tourists from the Gulf Coast region will probably find the place entirely more appealing, not to mention entirely necessary.
Bubba Gump has local locations on the water in Kemah and Galveston, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the burgeoning chain. In addition to the London opening, Bubba Gump also has international locations in Tokyo, Bali, and Hong Kong, among its 40 locations.
So feel free to take that trip to England or Japan or Indonesia, especially if it means you don’t have to sacrifice deep-fried shrimp—or the other 18 styles of shrimp the menu offers.