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Dirty Bones

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© Kris Piotrowski
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© Kris Piotrowski
Kensington

Reverse snobbery is a funny thing. Everyone coos over the pop-up, the plucky underdog, the ‘undiscovered’ chef. But a trend-chasing restaurant-by-numbers, backed by venture capitalists – where’s the romance in that?

Yet financing doesn’t have to be a dirty word. Sometimes, as in the case of this new no-bookings Kensington hotspot, deeper pockets simply mean a slicker end product. Take the decor, for instance. Styled as a basement ‘dive and dog bar’ – hot dogs, that is – it’s a triumph of studied retro cool. The hostess table is a vintage pinball machine, the lighting is flatteringly set to drinking-den low, and the music is at ‘party loud’. But you can tell it’s faux-bohemian: the faded old record players and ancient Nintendos are all glued down, so you can’t nick ’em. 

The compact menu consists of pimped dude-food, making it bang on trend (for 2012). Dishes include the ‘burger dog’ – a sausage-shaped burger in a finger bun, with melted cheese down its centre. Nice idea, but it was the proper hot dogs that stole the show. Three kinds (beef, pork, veggie) were all impeccably sourced and came in five variations, all served in pillowy brioche buns. Our combo of ‘Mexican’ filling (tender pork pibil, fiery salsa and a lick of sour cream) with pork dog (meaty, smoky and juicy, with a proper ‘knack’) was one of the best restaurant hot dogs we’ve had in London. 

Likewise, a stack of succulent chicken limbs was brilliantly ungreasy, having been dusted in a spicy flour coating, then baked: a refreshing change to the battered or sauce-slathered varieties. Our dinky mac ’n’ cheese, made with creamy taleggio and a breadcrumb topping, was equally swish. Last up was a cute twist on ‘milk and cookies’: a chewy, chunky chocolate cookie and milk gelato served in a small glass, with a teeny-tiny straw. 

The cocktails we tried were fine, if nothing special (we liked the sweet and tangy Mutt’s Nuts best). But staff on our visit coped well with the unrelenting influx of young west Londoners, each batch seemingly more modish and attractive than the last. If there’s one thing you can’t buy, it’s a fun-loving atmosphere. And Dirty Bones has that in spades.

 

Venue name: Dirty Bones
Contact:
Address: 20 Kensington Church Street
London
W8 4EP
Opening hours: Open Tue-Sun 6pm-midnight.
Transport: Tube: Kensington High Street
Price: Meal for two with drinks and service: around £60

Average User Rating

3.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:3
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:1
  • 2 star:0
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|6
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Michael

Have been twice now and on both occasions the drinks and the food have been excellent, Fried Chicken some of the best in London and although in dog terms I prefer simplicity the Brit Dog was very good, as was my friend's Mexican one. The cocktails were delicious with the Dirty Bones Martini my favourite, liked the one with Brooklyn beer in too. Will definitely be back

Richard

Amazing vibe and great food, junky food brought to another level! Really enjoyed our night out there and it's a place I could go to every week, London needed a new fun joint. The ribs and fried chicken were amazing and the hot dogs were the best I've had in a trendy London restaurant. Great job Dirty Bones.

Anna Drury

Absolutely amazing, astonishingly good food and delicious drinks. Decor was very cool and the night we went there was an epic live singer too. We will be back!

Anne

Service: friendly staff but wated 15 minutes for drinks to arrive and then a further 45 for the meal. No apology given but after my second complaint food was then brought out promptly. Food: really disappointing and I'm surprised timeout has rated it so highly. The hot dog was really small for the price and really dry and tasteless. The bun tasted like something from a tesco packet - for that price (£8!) you would hope for something a bit special or homemade at least. Chips were ok. Chicken was pretty basic (£7 for three small pieces) but you would find better value and probably similar tasting at KFC (and I don't exactly rate KFC highly!) really soggy fried coating and not much seasoning. Really over priced and over hyped - I'm sure you can find better value in other places nearby. For four of us with 4 hotdogs, 2 small chickens to share, 1 chips and four orange juices it cost £80. Go figure!