Edit: This post has been updated on a 2nd visit. Scroll to the end for more hot dog pictures!
Another new restaurant that captures the zeitigeist of London 2012. No bookings? Check. Unfinished brick walls? Check. Exposed filament lightbulbs? Check. Gourmet version of a well-known junk food? Check. Limited menu options? Check. Ridiculously long lines? Check. On paper, it has everything to create a successful restaurant, but to be fair and to also give them credit, there are a few surprises in store that set Bubbledogs& apart.
Let us start at the beginning. Having been well versed in just how long the lines at Bubbledogs& can get, we decided to head there on Saturday for lunch. Perfect timing as there was absolutely no line. Most of the tables were taken, so we opted to sit at the front bar. Possibly not the best choice, as once we were sat there, there were no bag hooks like I have become so accustomed to having in London restaurants, and the bar itself wasn’t very deep, so it was a little difficult to get tucked in close to the bar. Minor quibbles however.
The menu? Hot dogs and champagne. Odd pairing, but an undeniably fun combination. And what of the ‘&’ in the name Bubbledogs& ? Well tucked away at the back of the restaurant is a mysterious black curtain. Through which (started this week, if I am not mistaken) is a chef’s table, where 19 people sit around a bar and James Knappett will cook what I am guessing will be a stunning fine dining menu, completely separate to the hotdogs at the front of house. I love to watch chefs at work, so once bookings open, I will most definitely booking a place here.
As we arrived at 12pm, it was a touch too early for cocktails. A complete and utter shame, because there was a ‘Bill Murray’ cocktail on the menu. Bill Murray!
I am easily distracted, so here is a photo of only half of the menu. There are about another 6 or so hotdogs on the left hand side….that I forgot to take a photo of. Apologies.
If you’re into root beer the way the other half is, you will be happy that Bubbledogs& caters to you. I actually tried a sip and for the first time ever, didn’t find the flavour to as medicinal as I usually find it to be.
I couldn’t resist the Buffalo dog. I was surprised by the appearance of the Buffalo hot dog, mostly because I have become quite fond of MeatLiquor’s Buffalo wings that come with a side dip of blue cheese sauce, and just assumed that a Buffalo hot dog would be fairly similar; however actual blue cheese had been crumbled over. The Buffalo sauce had a nice kick to it, was suitably tangy, and the blue cheese wasn’t as overwhelming as I feared. As for the actual hot dog, itself? Good pork flavor, but Big Apple Hot Dogs just edges out Bubbledogs for flavor. Pickled cucumber on top was a nice creative addition.
I didn’t try the BLT hot dog, but it looked good with the truffle speckled mayo and a bacon wrapped hotdog that Ron Swanson would be proud of.
Credit definitely has to be given to Bubbledogs for offering sides that aren’t your usual potato fries. More places need to do tater tots. Side note: in Australia you can buy them frozen and they’re called potato gems. Fascinating, I know. The sweet potato fries were well, sweet and just a little bit crunchy.
Sadly no dessert, I suppose it doesn’t really fall under the concept of being either a hot dog nor champagne, but I do honestly feel that if Bubbledogs were to expand into desserts they would be as innovation and tasty as the rest of the place. I now want a Bubbledogs dessert.
As we were leaving, I enquired about the ‘&’ out the back. They happily offered to take us to it and let us see for ourselves. As they drew back the curtain several people setting up looked up in surprise but quickly warmed to us and waved hello. I can’t wait to make a booking there.
The people at Bubbledogs genuinely seem lovely and friendly. Hotdogs were good, but the sides were great. Would I add it to the list of places I would happily line up lengthy amounts of time for? Probably not. (That list consists of MeatLiquor, Spuntino and LuckyChip, in case you were curious). Definitely worth a visit and nice addition to Charlotte St!
On our 2nd I made the brilliant discovery that Bubbledogs serves Grape soda. This was miles away from the usual syrupy sweet unnaturally dark purple grape soda you usually find in off-licences. Significantly less sweet, the flavour of grape came through more than the sugar.
This time Duncan went for the Breakie dog, a spin on the full English breakfast consisting of a quails egg, black pudding, and bacon.
My choice this time was the kimchi dog. The kimchi still had a crunch to it, but sadly wasn’t as spicy as I would like. I went for the beef hot dog this time, and I actually found it to have a better flavour than the pork. It didn’t blow me away, but the flavours were decent enough.