You need to think of Bubbledogs as an uber-cool champagne bar that sells hotdogs, rather than a hotdog restaurant that sells champagne. Once you reconcile that riddle then you can enjoy Bubbledogs for what it is: a coming together of two concepts so extreme that they should not work, but they do. They just sing.
Thankfully my forward-thinking friend arrived just before midday and nabbed what were the last two seats available. There are plenty of high-rise bar stool type tables fitted into the space but for us we had the two seats in the middle of the room and a plank attached to the stair case railing as a ‘table’. I kept telling myself that it all added to the charm of the place.
And the room is charming as are the staff. The fit out is the dark wooded cabin walls on one side but with all walls draped in custom drawn dogs (of the canine variety) posing in homage to the hotdogs. The crowd was mixed as there was no clearly defined tribe. Men in suits, women in business attire, media types in ripped jeans and rocka-billy hair, chino wearers and one man in shorts all sipping elegant glasses of champagne and scoffing hotdogs. All were welcome by the warm staff.
The prices are why it’s best to think of this as a champagne bar that serves gourmet hotdogs. I had one glass of champagne – Juillet Lallement and a “Fourth of July” hotdog – a beef hotdog dressed with a perfectly balanced tangy-smokey-bbq sauce and topped with coleslaw. It dripped out the end when biting into the other end – just as it should have done. We shared a side of sweet potato fries and I’m grateful I was gifted the lion’s share as they were salty, sweet and crunchy, fluffy.
All that was £18 which may detract regular returning customers beyond the novelty – but if I wanted champagne then that’s a more enticing proposition to hook me back. The champagne is sourced with incredible devotion and served with spirited enthusiasm – the wait staff clearly drilled by co-owner and sommelier Sandia Chang.
The chef co-owner, James Knappett is soon launching his chef’s table within Bubbledogs and offering fixed price tasting menus with matching wines. It’s off message from the concept, but does give him a platform to launch into a standalone modern European restaurant and gives Bubbledogs customers a reason to come back again and again.
It was opening day and a credit card terminal too far out of range from the hub caused a delay long enough to paying that we were given another glass of champagne – Gaston Chiquet, gratis, for our ‘inconvenience’. It was in the circumstances, unnecessary, but a gratefully appreciated touch.
The mad logic behind Bubbledogs, throwing together seemingly disparate ideas,may just work and defy everyone. I hope it does.
Bubbledogs is at 70 Charlotte Place, W1T 4QG | @BubbledogsUK