Thursday, 30 August 2012

Bubbledogs - Blogging and dogging

Bubbledogs& @bubbledogsuk
40 Charlotte Street

Bubbledogs is the new venture by James Knappett, who has previously held stints at Noma and the Ledbury. With that kind of pedigree, this was always going to be somewhere that needed checking out. Together with his wife Sandia Chang (of Roganic fame), the menu features a combination of hot dogs and grower champagne. This seems a bit of a strange combination initially, but the place itself inside is a kind of classy, upmarket (although not necessarily in terms of prices) diner with bar seating and tongue-in-cheek illustrations of sausage dogs drinking champagne.

BD& is not limited to just hotdogs. It will have a chef's table, hidden behind the Wizard of Oz curtain at the back of the 'bubbledogs' room, this will entail the '&' part of the restaurant. They will be opening this towards the end of September for a 3 course lunch and taster menu.

Going to the opening day was always going to be busy. Thankfully we managed to get there just in time to get a stool each by the stairway, by the time we were out there was a growing queue leading out the door. The place isn't massive seating approximately 30 people or more.

Straight away we noticed a distinct difference in execution from the other recent restaurant opening we visited. The customer service was very impressive. Our waitress spent time going through the champagne options (as well as the cider or beer) and cleared up all of our questions carefully but without being over-attentive. Good start! 

Bubbledogs have squeezed in 13 different varieties of hot dog, ranging from plain to kimchi or chilli and cheese. In terms of the sausage. there was a choice of' pork, beef or veggie which is reassuringly inclusive. After a time deliberating, we went for the BLT with bacon, caramelised lettuce and truffle mayo (£8) and the K-Dawg with kimchi, lettuce and spicy red bean paste (£7) with a side of tater tots (£3.50). We decided not get champagne on this visit as it was lunchtime and that would just be playing a dangerous game, especially when you work in a field heavily dependent on hand-eye coordination!

This place really is already a well oiled machine, our order came out in next to no time. Just what you want when on a lunch break. It really shows that the staff have been trained to a very high level. When Owen got his BLT,  he was initially a bit confused. ''Sorry, but shouldn't there be bacon in this,'' he had to ask one of the waiters. ''The bacon is actually wrapped tightly around the sausage,'' he replied. We completely didn't notice this until it was pointed out! This was a pigception like no other, giant 'pigs in blankets,' if you will. I couldn't really taste much truffle in the mayo, but went well with the hot dog all the same. The hot dogs are about 7" and not that thick, especially when compared to the ones at MeatMarket which are too thick for our liking.

Shahz tried the K-Dawg, which was with a kimchi (a typically spicy korean salad consisting of brined cabbage mixed with chili and fish sauce) topping. The combination of the kimchi, meat and bread works so well at Kimchi Cult and Hawksmoor, so we were intrigued by the prospect of it in hot dog form. The combination of sausage and cabbage is a classic one (they also have a sauerkraut containing hot dog called the New Yorker), and it works brilliantly here, especially with the sweet and sourness that comes from the kimchi.

The only slight gripe is that they could have pumped up the chili quotient a bit. Kimchi is spicy by nature, and there's nothing to be afraid of in a little extra heat! There's always been a conflict between aesthetics and utility with this kind of food and though it looked fantastic with the kimchi piled up on top, it fell off very easily and had to kind of be stuffed in between the meat and the bun. Otherwise it was excellent and one that we would try again!

The tater tots, for those uninitiated are basically posh potato croquettes. They were wonderfully moreish, and a clever alternative to the usual fries or chips. If you are feeling so inclined however, you can also get sweet potato fries or coleslaw as sides. 

We were really, really impressed by the hot dogs we tried, and for sure will come back to try a few of the champagnes with dinner as their list is truly impressive. Furthermore, the extensive choice of toppings ensures that there is something for pretty much everyone. Bubbledogs is sure to become a big hit, so catch it soon before the queues start snaking around the block!

Update (1st Sept 2012): On our second visit, we tried out a few more of the hot dogs and some of the champagne.

The first of many pages of the champagne list, starting with the ''by glass'' choices

Getting busy with the fizzy

Of the hot dogs, we tried out the Trishna, the Small Eye and the Buffalo Dog.

Trishna Dog

The Trishna is basically their Indian hot dog, and I have to say the best of the lot that we've tried so far. Sweet, sour and umami...this hot dog was bursting with flavours. With the choice of beef hot dog, the sauce was a sort of mango and tamarind chutney, which gave it a really satisfying, deep sweet and savoury base. This was combined with coriander and sev, the omnipresent Indian mini-vermicelli made from chickpea flour.

Small Eye
The small eye is almost like a vietnamese type of hot dog (a clever spin on banh mi maybe?). It contained pickled daikon, cauliflower, cucumber, carrots, coriander and that perennial Thai favourite Sriracha rooster sauce. Again there was a mixture of different Asian flavours here, that was sweet, sour, savoury and overall really fresh and satisfying.

Buffalo Dog
This one was topped with crumbly blue cheese, celery, celery salt and slightly tangy spicy buffalo sauce. It was again a really unique mixture of flavours, combining the sour spiciness of the buffalo sauce with that salty, odorous sharpness loved by those of us who are blue cheese fans. As with the K-Dawg, it was difficult to keep the blue cheese on top of the dog which wasn't ideal. But the combinations of flavours again worked remarkably well. We have to thank the bartender for recommending this one!

Clos de la Chapelle, Instinct, 1er Cru
Benoit Lahaye, Rose de Maceration, Extra-Brut

Of the two champagnes we tried, the white Clos de la Chapelle (£8 per glass) was a more orthodox choice; it was light but slightly sweet (for a brut at least). It was overall very easy to drink. The other one we tried, the Benoit Lahaye Rose de Maceration rose (£11 per glass), was exceptional. It was 100% Pinot Noir matured on the grape skins, which gave it a gorgeous bright red tint and a nice sharp acidity to the finish, which nicely accentuated the spicier flavours particularly well. It also had a very fine mousse which made it really pleasing on the palate. Definitely one we'll try again. We can happily say that the hotdog and champagne combination really does work fantastically! Here's to the next time! Chin-chin, salute, sante...and above all, cheers!

Bubbledogs& on UrbanspoonSquare Meal

1 comment:

  1. Check out my latest blog post, where I've re-created bubbledogs in my own kitchen, and recommend you do the same!


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