Bubbledogs is a restaurant that only serves champagne and hot dogs.
In the catalogue of self-conscious, posed restaurant concepts, that ranks pretty high. It is also too charmingly goofy an idea not to try at the first opportunity; so try it we did.
The restaurant is a short walk from Goodge St tube, and a good deal less pretentious than it could so easily have been. The decor was the sane side of funky/eclectic, with just a little distressed brick and exposed steel, offset by a splendid brass-topped bar and plenty of light.
The champagne list was sizeable. I know next to nothing about fizz, and it really could have used some more accessible tasting notes, rather than the precociously flip iconoclasm they’ve gone with. To unpack that slightly: if you don’t know your bubbly, the phrase “A LICK OF CHALK AND STONES” ain’t helping.
For all that, the champagne we had (a Vilmart & Cie, Grande Réserve, 1er Cru, Brut, apparently) was good, and it more or less worked with the hot dogs. This was a worry – too butch a bubbly, and the hot dog would get lost; too much bite in the dog, and the champagne goes to waste. Ours was dry and citrusy, and cut through the sausage and toppings rather well.
By the glass, champagne starts at £6.50, and hovers more generally around the £8 mark. There wasn’t much by the glass, but the bottled selection is extensive, starts around £35, goes all the way up, and the hump of the bell curve is a relatively unintimidating £50-60. Relatively.
Going to the dogs
The food is pretty good, and reasonably priced too. It’s exactly what it claims to be – good hot dogs.
We both had pork dogs; mine was a New Yorker (sauerkraut and onions), Kit’s the BLT. The sausages are slender typical hot dogs, with that grungy mystery-meat texture I’d have felt cheated without. They’ve kept the street vendor feel while ratcheting up the quality. So the outside has that sheen and slight resistance to the bite, and the flavour is a little smoky. Good dogs.
Kit’s BLT had been wrapped in bacon rashers, and was a good deal more interesting than the New Yorker. Although the sauerkraut and onions were piled about a foot high, and that’s guaranteed to please me.
The selection of sides is simple and it works: coleslaw, sweet potato fries, and “tots”. Tots appear to be deep-fried croquettes, or maybe hash browns, given the riced texture. They are apparently heartland ameri-junk, I’d never tried one before, and it was love at first bite. Crisp, dirty, just salty enough. The ideal side for tongue-in-cheek-posh junk food.
Likewise the sweet potato fries; they’re probably a casual joke that got taken a little too far. But I’m glad they made it to the plate. Again, salty, but enough to offset the sweetness, and the sweetness goes well with the slight smoke of the dog.
We walked straight in, but the only spot was at the bar. Others after us had to queue for a few minutes, but I’d guess way less than half an hour. The service was friendly, and the bill wasn’t heart-stopping. Even if just over half of it was booze.
Bubbledogs is a stupid idea that knows it’s a stupid idea, and really doesn’t much care. It’s not revelatory, but it’s not showy and pretentious either. I would totally go back for lunch, and you probably should too.