"A vibrant atmosphere, and a great night out with friends.."Review Rating: Reviewed by James Whiting
A table for 12 was not an easy booking to secure for one of the most in demand new eateries in the capital. However, preparation a couple of months in advance sealed a night out at Bubbledogs. If you haven’t heard of Bubbledogs, which seems unlikely considering the press the place has been getting, it is the first restaurant headed up by James Knappett (ex Ledbury and a host of other Michelin stars across the globe) and his wife Sandia Chang (a similar stellar sommelier CV).
The concept is simple yet unusual, champagne and hotdogs. No starters, no puddings, just pork, beef or veggie dogs and a couple of sides to choose from, fairly reasonably priced too. The main restaurant was buzzing, unsurprising considering the queue out of the door even on a rainy Thursday night… With an uncomplicated menu the selections were relatively straight forward, more just a case of how many dogs to order - two for the keen and hungry, three for the slightly excessive. Our waitress informed us the record was 4. With the choices made, next up was the champagne. There was a large list of artisan sparkling wines, covering a diverse price range. Our table plumped for two bottles from the lower end of the spectrum. Service was fast and efficient - the corks were popped, with the hotdogs in their little baskets hitting the table soon after. This provided a real dichotomy of dining. On the one hand there was the grandiose gesture of ordering a couple of decadent bottles of champagne, and on the other there were 12 hungry people tucking into some hotdogs without a piece of cutlery in sight. All in all this lead to a vibrant atmosphere, and a great night out with friends - perhaps not worth queuing for ages in the rain, but a bit of forward planning and this can easily be avoided!
The calibre of hotdogs and their respective toppings do deserve a few honourable mentions. A Sloppy Joe was covered in chilli con carne and a layer of thick melted cheese. José was a nod to Mexico, topped with sour cream, salsa, avocado and jalapeños. The Fourth of July had the dog wrapped in bacon strips and heaped with coleslaw, which was perhaps a touch too sweet. A smear of mustard on the bun couldn’t quite counteract this. Finally, a BLT consisted of dog sat atop a bed of caramelised lettuce topped with bacon and tomato shards, and a generous portion of truffle mayonnaise. All were eaten with very few complaints. The sides were also excellent, with a pile of sweet potato fries and stack of tater tots exactly the right amount of greasy. Rarely can cylinders of hash brown not make you beam with delight…
What is admirable is Bubbledogs is not somewhere trying to be something it is not. The kitchen makes all the dogs and buns. There are of course hints of the fine dining background sprinkled across the menu, the perfectly cubed tomato concasse making up the salsa in the José, the black truffle sprinkled generously through the mayonnaise on the BLT. However, these do not impose or overbear, yet merely take a backseat adding to the quality of the meal and experience. There is also an exclusive Chef’s table in the back that is getting rave reviews for its tasting menu experience. This is about as far removed as hot dogs are from champagne.
James Whiting reviewed Bubbledogs on Mon 11 Feb 2013