Even before its’ opening last year, Bubbledogs was surrounded by a flurry of media hype. I’ve been meaning to go for a while and recently made it with a group of ladies who I’ve been working with, including the lovely Sarah of Little Lady Eats. We found that going en masse is a sneaky rue to avoid the tell-tale queues up the street – that’s right folks, you can book a table at Bubbledogs, you just have to be in a group. We had booked a couple of months in advance mind, but nevertheless, we were in.
Situated on sophisticated Charlotte Street, the whole concept of Bubbledogs is a clever one – Champagne combined with ever-so-trendy hotdogs, very now, very New York.
Eight made up our group and we were spread over two high tables on stools, towards the back – towards the much-lauded ‘Chef’s Table.’ We strutted immediately past the relatively long queue and found a rather narrow, wooden interior that immediately put me in mind of a ski lodge. The walls were adorned with drawings of dogs, which some in our group found cute, and I could see the connection, but being unmoved by animals as I am (unless eating them of course), I could take them or leave them.
As it was a mid-week work treat and not an extravagant evening, we ordered a couple of bottles of the house Prosecco, which was excellent and priced at £32 a bottle. The helpful waiter also explained that this was cloudier in appearance that other sparkling wines and had less fizz due to its’ preparation being different – I was impressed with the knowledge. After a quick toast amongst our number at making it through January, the single most depressing month, we moved on to the food. `
In what our group deemed as a rather hostile move by our, up until this point jolly group, the waiter informed us after we’d ordered that we would be required to ‘vacate the table’ at 8:30pm – precisely an hour and a half after we’d arrived. Never a fan of this style of time-managed dining, it was even more infuriating that there had been absolutely no mention of this when booking, or even on our arrival nearly thirty minutes prior. It did sour the mood a little, but hotdogs are obviously not going to take long to prepare so it was actually a notion that would and should’ve been left unsaid, but there you have it.
So naturally, Little Lady Eats and I were keen to try as much as possible so we ordered a different dog each and split them in order to try two each – a Sloppy Joe (chilli dog) and a Swedish Viking which was the special that evening, we both opted for the pork ‘dog.
The Swedish Viking was actually a great combination of pickled cucumber, sweet mustard, crispy fried onions and ketchup. The only disappointment was the actual sausage, which was of questionable quality. Don’t get me wrong, the hotdogs are reasonably enough priced, given the location at under £10 a pop, however bland, rubbery meat was the standard in our dogs and I thought it could have been better. When I was in Stockholm a couple of years back with six friends we enjoyed a hotdog or two when inebriated from the numerous street sellers which were priced at around £1-2 and frankly the meat was better there.
The Sloppy Joe was a ‘chilli dog’. Now Sarah and I were both expecting chillies or a chilli sauce in there, which is obviously down to our own lack of dog-knowledge – what we were instead greeted with, was a chilli con carne topping. Once again the meat of the chilli was of poor quality, the flavour was hiding in the overcooked, almost crusty meat and it was frankly a disappointment.
Aside from the dogs we had ordered one each of the sides on offer for each of our two tables. The standout side, in fact the tastiest thing I had that evening, was the sweet potato fries. These were soft, fluffy and sweet in the centre but crispy, perfectly seasoned and delicious on the outside. They were served with an absolutely to-die for truffle mayonnaise, and though the dish was a simple one it was completed elevated by the gourmet accompaniment.
The other two sides were incredibly average – a coleslaw that was perfectly edible, but nothing to write home about and a portion of ‘Tots’. I was fairly excited to try the tots as I remember an episode of Friends where Joey mentions them, but found they were in fact, a combination of a potato rosti and a croquette – very school dinner, very unappetising.
Given the hype around the opening, I was always going to try out Bubbledogs for myself, and now I’ve been, I’m unlikely to return – however I’m still glad to have given it a whirl. The reasonably priced menu cannot be denied and there’s certainly no hiding the fact that here in London, there is a huge appetite for conceptual restaurants like Bubbledogs. The long queues along Charlotte Street suggest this will remain a ‘hotspot’ for some time yet, but for me Bubbledogs just didn’t live up to it’s hype and from now on I’d rather spend my money on restaurants that rely on the food to guarantee repeat customers rather than a quirky concept.