With Londoners in the grip of street food fever and creative industries in the East End growing at double the rate of the financial services sector (according to the latest report by The Centre for Economics and Business Research), one might expect a cool new champagne bar serving street food to be in uber trendy Shoreditch or Clerkenwell.
But when you discover the neon lit door of this W1 saloon style joint on Charlotte St, leads to a keenly priced wine list of ecclectic grower champagnes (with at least half dozen in rotation available by the glass – from GBP6 to GBP13.50) accompanied by a wittily worded menu of hotdogs served every which way you like them on retro red plastic plates, you can’t help but feel like the dog that got the bone.
Arrive early to nab a table booth, then relax and kick back over a glass or two of different champagnes, order a gourmet hot dog with your favourite dressing for lunch, and still have pocket change left from GBP20 to buy a great coffee in Soho afterwards. This quirky concept of home-made hotdogs (made by a starred chef no less) married to diverse examples of sparkling wines from the Champagne region, aptly entitled “Bubbledogs”, launched on social media by tweeting out an amazing set of bespoke dog and champagne drawings (which now decorate the venue) several months before the venue opened. The Bubbledog brand quickly gained traction on twitter, driving priceless media coverage in the months leading up to launch. The place has been rocking every day since the doors first opened on August 29th 2012, so the results speak for themselves.
When you pop in here yourself to road test the theory of matching hot dogs to champagne, you soon realise that the main game is actually happening behind the discreet curtain covered entrance at the back of the saloon. Here you step into a chef’s demonstration kitchen dream crossed with a milk bar, featuring homely leather revolving stools strategically located around a U shaped kitchen table that snugly fits 19 guests. “The Kitchen Table” offers a seasonal fine dining tasting menu from GBP35 – GBP80 and launched about a month after BubbleDogs itself. Between them Husband and Wife, Chef and Sommelier team James Knappett and Sandia Chang have cooked up the perfect recipe for sure-fired success.
Here’s why it works. Bubbledogs makes champagne accessible to all by serving it lean with inexpensive street food and it satisfies the thirst of those who are already converts by presenting bijoux artisanal champagnes instead of the usual big guns. For any serious bubbly lover, whether beginner or expert, this effervescent experience is a slice of heaven on a plate Woof!
This restaurant review by Jayne Powell (aka Champagne Jayne) was originally published in Harpers magazine Dec 7 2012 At Your Service section Page 16