Tuesday, 11 December 2012
Review of Bubbledogs, Fitzrovia
Anticipation, can either make or break a meal. Chances are, if you are really starvingly hungry a half-cooked mangy dog from the local kebab van would probably taste alright.
Too much of a wait gives you longer to raise your expectations and the meal might not live up to it. Too little and you have had hardly had time to appreciate what's being put in front of you.
There's certainly no danger of the latter at Bubbledogs, the hot dog and champagne bar which is the latest trendy offering of posh meets street nosh, to come onto the scene in London.
Everyone has heard about the queues and having tried and failed to eat there once already, second time around I was expecting big things..
Having to work so hard to get a table seems odd for an establishment like Bubbledogs.
They aren't trying to change your life with sausage, it's not Michelin star food, the branding seems to be a lot more casual, hence why you can't book for a group under six.
So, already, Bubbledogs seemed a bit disjointed. You don't fancy a spot of casual lunch and then go to a restaurant three hours in advance to allow for queuing time, hoping by the time you get a table you are still hungry. First time around, my friend and I were not, we gave up waiting and ended up with two pints and a packet of McCoys in a pub around the corner. It was probably for the best, after a three hour queue we would have been so cold and grumpy it would have taken Michel Roux Jr himself, naked, whisking a souffle to cheer our spirits.
Second time we came up with a strategy, hitting Bubbledogs, mid-week, for late-lunch we only had to queue for fifteen minutes. A planned out strategy for how to be allowed to eat hot dogs - how casual is that?
So, expectations were high but with a good friend and lots of gossiping to cover, we were in the right frame of mind for bubbles and comfort food. Half the clientele seemed to be of the same vein, groups of young women and men, dressed casually, sipping some champagne and bursting with excitement.
The rest were suited, older men who couldn't see the irony of them having stern expressions, discussing business, whilst mustard ran down their face.
The decor is laid back, drawings of cartoon dogs populate the exposed brick walls and the focus of the room is the large bar by the entrance.
We we're seated at a side bar that runs along the stairs so that we weren't facing each other, the other option was doubling up on a table but (as mentioned before) but agreeing that our a) language b) topics of conversation, might offend, we opted for the bar.
I appreciate the laid-back approach that goes along with a restaurant that serves hot dogs but I would have appreciated a hook under the counter so that I could hang my bag, rather than having every other person who walked down the stairs to the toilets tripping over it.
Staff were attentive despite being extremely busy and we were promptly brought a menu. It hardly needed much deliberation (although choosing our bottle of champagne certainly took more time due to the extensive list).
There are thirteen dogs on offer in total, all can come with either pork or beef sausages, each dog hailing from a different country. Some of the more vomit inducing options were K-dawg, Kimchi, fermented red bean paste and lettuce and the Trishna, a hot dog covered in mango chutney, coriander and mint. Then came the more tried and tested toppings that people would want to eat, fried onions, chilli, sauerkraut and truffle mayonnaise etc.
I ordered the Fourth of July, bacon wrapped sausage with smokey bbq sauce and coleslaw, my friend opted for Buffalo dog, deep-fried, served with blue cheese, spicy buffalo sauce, celery and celery seeds.
Out of the three sides on offer, coleslaw, tots and sweet potato fries we opted for tots, partly because I love saying the word in my best American accent imaging that part in the film Napolean Dynamite where he puts the snack in his pockets.
It seemed we made the right decision, on the tots at least, they were incredible - as far as a kind of hash brown, croquettes thing goes. Each made a perfect crunch when you bit into it, a softer mash of potato inside that was encapsulate in a golden fried shell. You don't often see tots on a menu in the UK, so the novelty was an extra tick.
Now to the dawgs.
My hot dog was partly wrapped in bacon so it resembled an adult pig that had outgrown it's blanket but the combination certainly worked. The sausage itself had a background of spice to it, with a deep pork flavour that you rarely comes through into a hot dog. It's definitely the best hot dog sausage I've ever eaten.
Served in a bun which was the perfect combination of tough enough so it didn't disintegrate around the hot sausage but fluffy inside so it soaked up the mustard. In all honestly, I could take or leave the coleslaw which really tasted of nothing and to me, jarred with the rest of the ingredients.
The second most delicious thing on the menu (after the sausage) was the champagne.
We ordered a bottle of Lancelot-Royer, Cuvee De Reserve, Blanc de Blancs.
I usually prefer Prosecco but this is the best glass of bubbly I have ever drank in my life. Light like a Prosecco with a fullness you would associate with a Champagne, it tasted clearer, more poignant. Basically, after a few glasses I was champagne-giddy drunk without the cloudy headache.
Expectations were high but whether it was the bubble or the dog, we left in high spirits.
I would definitely return, in a group of six or over, or, when the queues have died down a little.