70 Charlotte St
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Fri Sep 7 2012
As concepts go, Bubbledogs is right on the money. This newcomer teams hot dogs with bubbly, tapping straight into the vein of the current trend for poshed-up junk food. And boy, have they gone to town, cladding the space in rustic reclaimed woods (even the air-con unit has been sympathetically disguised), exposing bricks, wallpapering the ceiling. They then installed stunning lighting, hired an attractive and amiable workforce, and sourced a laudable collection of lesser-known champagnes. There’s only one problem: they forgot to make the ‘gourmet’ hot dogs any good.
Choose your ‘dog’ – there’s pork, beef or veggie – then pick one of a dozen styles, from ‘naked’ (just a dog in a bun) to the more adventurous ‘Trishna’ (topped with mango chutney, mint and coriander). But the two we sampled were underwhelming.
Our Korean-inspired ‘K-Dawg’ came lined with a fiery but flavourless gochujang ( red bean paste ), a few pieces of baby gem lettuce and a scattering of kimchi (the Korean condiment of pickled cabbage). But this kimchi wasn’t particularly well fermented, and lacked depth. Our ‘Sloppy Joe’ fared no better, being topped with a too-sweet house chilli and a sprinkling of grated (but not melted) cheese. But most disappointing were the main ingredients. The soft finger buns were fine, but our pork hot dogs were soft and fatty – similar in style to the kind you get in mass catering outlets when all eyes are on the profit margin. Not what you’d expect for more than £7 each.
By comparison, the side dishes were excellent. Our ‘tots’ were short, crunchy cylinders of starchy potato (somewhere between miniature potato croquettes and hash browns) while a small dish of fresh coleslaw was crisp, light and sweet – a refreshing and much-needed foil to all that had gone before.
But in some ways, dissing the dogs misses the point, because Bubbledogs is still ‘hot’, and has plenty going for it. It’s a beautiful space, where a huge amount of thought has gone into the detail. Look in the nook under your table and you’ll find a wooden wine bottle box: open the clasp and you’ll find your serviettes (no cutlery is provided with your dogs). Head to the downstairs loos (which are unisex, by the way) and you can spend a penny surrounded by old menus from illustrious restaurants, from the Fat Duck to Le Gavroche, then pull a piece of loo roll from an ornate vintage dispenser; this is not bog-standard.
Bubbledogs works brilliantly as a champagne bar, champions smaller producers, and kicks off at an accessible £6/£6.50 a glass (cava, champagne).
On our lunchtime visit, the room was heaving with beautiful people quaffing with gay abandon. No one seemed to care that you can’t book in advance, that there may be a time limit (55 minutes, in our case) or that you might have to share a table – if anything, it added to the buzz. By the time we left, more pretty things were queuing to get in. ‘Go for the bubbles,’ I wanted to say, ‘but steer clear of them dogs.’
Bubbledogs teams four-star drinking with two-star dining. We hope that when Kitchen Table (a tiny Modern European restaurant on the same site) opens later this month, it will be a little more consistent.
Kitchen Table will open on September 18.
Bubbledogs 70 Charlotte St
- Opening hours:
Open 11.30am-11pm Tue-Wed; 11.30-midnight Thur-Sat. Kitchen Table noon-2pm, 6pm (first dinner sitting), 9pm (second dinner sitting) Tue-Sat.
Tube: Goodge St tube
- 70 Charlotte St
- 020 76377770
- 70 Charlotte St
Eating out. Creative cooking