hot dogs can be a very good or a very bad thing. a bad dog? we’ve all been there. but a good hot dog, i think we can all agree, is a spectacular thing. add champagne? woah. genius idea… one thought up by james knappett, formerly of marcus wareing at the berkeley, and his wife sandia chang.
i’m a huge fan of propping up for the afternoon/evening/entire night at a champagne bar, and while i’m quite happy to slurp down some oysters, caviar sure ain’t my thing, and trying to convince some males to sip on bubbles without the compromise of some decent ‘man food’ (read: meat) can be trying. enter: bubbledogs.
bubbledogs opened their doors on charlotte street on wednesday, and we arrived excitedly on friday evening for first dinner orders. (we initially arrived at 4pm thinking we’d do a late lunch, and had to be turned away. calm down girls.) but we weren’t the only eager early birds; six others were gathered on the pavement outside the small restaurant ahead of our prompt arrival. within ten minutes of sarah and i taking our seats, the eatery was full with a line out the door that remained until we left. oh you shrewd london foodies, so on the ball you are!
being a duo, we were asked if we would mind sitting at the bar, which we didn’t at all, as it meant we got to people watch and chat with the lovely bartenders. the menu is simple – a choice of about twelve gourmet hot dogs, with side options of sweet potato fries, tater tots and coleslaw.
the list of bubbles, however, is extensive and different from your average menu of the usual offenders. the bubbledogs team have chosen from a range of smaller champagne houses with a handful of options by the glass, and bottles that price from 32 pounds up into the hundreds. we each tried a different champagne, and followed up with a paloma cocktail – lunazul tequila, agave nectar, lime, pink grapefruit, yellow charteuse and blackwater soda.
with a little help from the waiters, we went for a new yorker dog with onions and sauerkraut, and a josé – with avocado, salsa, sour cream and jalepenos. for 70p you can try the sauce from any of the dogs, so with our sweet potato fries we opted for the buffalo dog dipping sauce. all were delicious, and in a different league to the usual street cart offering. we chose pork for both of our first options, but felt we weren’t doing the menu justice, so popped for a third dog to share; this time a beef sloppy joe with chilli, onions and cheese. nom nom nom.
the restaurant is intimate with exposed brick, soft lighting and a gorgeous copper topped bar. if not perched at the bar, you sit atop stools around high tables and large glass windows allow you to spy on passersy-by… just try to avoid the the ‘hurry the f*** up’ glares of the hungry ones queuing along the glass-walled hallway outside.
the pairing of hot dogs and champagne really shouldn’t work, but that’s what we loved about the whole idea. with amazing quality, yet affordable food venues popping up all over london, the one thing that can be lacking is good liquor to match. with each delicious hot dog setting you back a mere seven pounds, you can certainly afford to treat yourself to a fancy vintage to wash it down with.
bubbledogs is open tuesday to saturday, with reservations only for groups of six and up. we recommend getting down early in the week straight after work to avoid the queues, or even give it a fortnight or two so that initial new london restaurant excitement abates a little and those folk with a rather less crazed enthusiasm toward eating out can get a chance to elbow their way in. a perfect post-office catch-up, or date spot where you can enjoy a glass of fizz without the pomp and laugh at each other’s most inelegant dog-eating abilities.