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70 Charlotte Street
020 7637 7770
Launched at the height of ‘gourmet fast food’ mania, Bubbledogs’ still-snaking queues prove that grower Champagne and high-class hotdogs are a combination built to last. This quirky match-up works, thanks to “awesome service” and a “cool ambience” in the smart, brick-on-wood room. Co-owner Sandia Chang’s passion for small-producer fizz rubs off on staff who know her treat-packed list inside out, while James Knappett’s kitchen applies similar respect to pork, beef or veggie dogs, with some 17 versions, including Sloppy Joe (beef chilli, Cheddar cheese and onions) and José (fresh tomato, avocado, jalapeños and sour cream). Our pick, however, is the purist’s dream – a New Yorker’s onions and sauerkraut drenched in table-top French’s and ketchup, backed up by ruthlessly addictive sides of ‘tater tots’ and sweet-potato fries. Those less enamoured of fizz will find on-point cocktails, craft beers and even a few still wines from the Champagne region.
The Champagnes on the Bubbledogs list are split up by style: ‘touch of spice’, ‘fresh fruit bowl’ and ‘toasty and nutty delights’, and so on. The 14 sections (including one dedicated to by-the-glass and another to magnums) rarely contain more than three or four wines, and, combined with a super-clear layout and impressive consistency and accuracy, the list is very easy to follow.
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SquareMeal 2 Stars
70 Charlotte Street
020 7637 7770
Goodge Street Tube Station 139m
Warren Street Tube Station 507m
Charlotte Street 102m
Courtauld (U.C.L.) 142m
Mon-Thu 12N - 4PM 5.30PM - 11PM Fri-Sat 11.30AM - 11PM
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
Bubbledogs was a great concept. Who doesn’t love champagne and hotdogs? Especially since these are gourmet hotdogs. I’d already sampled a bit of the gourmet hotdog market at Dirty Bones in Kensington so was pretty excited by the Bubbledogs visit.
Bubbledogs are part of this new spate of restaurants (which I actually really detest) which do not take reservations. It means that a weekend evening entail endless waiting. Therefore my and friend and I wondered down there on a Tuesday night. We arrived at 6.45pm to be told that it would be a 40 minute wait. Slightly surprising and not ideal, but not terrible. I really wish the receptionist had been more realistic. It wasn’t 40 minutes. It was closer to 1 hour and 15 minutes. The only saving grace is that we didn’t need to spend the whole time just waiting in the restaurant. The restaurant has a system by which they take your mobile number and texts you when the table is ready. There’s even a weblink where you can keep track of both the queue and your place in it. At first watching the weblink was fun but it was quickly like being stuck on one of those phonecalls where they keep saying ‘Your call is important to us’; especially when the queue didn’t move at all for about 30 minutes.
The problem with the restaurant is then that it’s tiny. That’s a problem both in the case of the queue but also just general space. Unfortunately for the lady next to me; her seat was so close that some of the condiments off my hotdog slightly splattered her.
The problem with Bubbledogs is that, despite the extensive and really interesting champagne list, it just doesn’t work as a restaurant. They have focused on the champagne to the extent that the food is just not that amazing. Dirty Bones in Kensington have amazing gourmet hotdogs. The food at Bubbledogs was nice enough but after that length of a wait, it should have been the best hotdog I’d ever had in my life. It wasn’t. I had the Philly Cheez dog which was £7.50 and it was fine. That’s really it. Not that special.
Another space issue – especially due to the tiny half counter/half table space we were allocated, was there was no room for us to keep the bottle of champagne next to us. It was in an ice bucket across the room. That isn’t too much of a problem but we ended up with a situation where the server said we’d finished the bottle and then realised we hadn’t. We had 2 more glasses left. That’s quite a large amount of champagne to miss and makes me wonder how often that has the potential to happen.
The wait staff are also constantly almost hovering. I like good service. There’s nothing worse than having to flag down a server when you need something but I had the sense that if we were finished, we needed to pay and go. This is not a restaurant you can either linger or relax in. I definitely felt a little hurried out. When I go out to eat, I want to enjoy the food and the company, not feel like I have to spring through dinner as the restaurant needs the table back as soon as possible.
Surely it’s much easier to have a 2 hour limit on tables and allow people to book? Regardless, the restaurant wasn’t worth the energy it took to actually get to eat there. I think next time I want some nice champagne, I’ll just find a bar and sit and enjoy it. We almost spent the same amount of time waiting in the pub down the road as we did in Bubbledogs. Great, if that’s what you plan to do but I can’t say I was too impressed.
Food + drink: 4
In Sweden they say that ‘taste is like the buttocks – divided’, the point being that matters of taste can be two sides of the same coin (or cheeks if you want to persist with the original metaphor, not that you can say ‘cheeks of the same coin’ but you get my drift). Anyway. Bubbledogs is really three hospitality offerings in one – a three-buttocked man if you will.
The first offering, or metaphorical buttock, is a champagne bar, serving only lesser known growers. The range is excellent, the menu descriptors are very helpful but the prices are never less than stonking (£60+ for a bottle, and very few options by the glass). The seating (bar stools at shared wooden tables) is not terribly conducive to drinking champagne. Score: high for drink and service, low for atmos and value.
The second offering is a hotdog restaurant. The food is fantastic: expertly made sausages that do not stray too far from the frankfurter taste, garnished with fine toppings, served in a perfect milk roll. Sides were superbly cooked and up there with Disco Bistro. Prices are at the higher end of what you'd pay for a hot dog but not daft. The casual venue is fine for posh fast food. Score high for food and service, and middling for value and atmosphere.
The main obstacle to enjoying either the first or second options is that there are no reservations and always a queue – people love a gimmick, and judging by the languages being spoken in the queue, they travel some distance to try one. As good as the fizz and dogs are, I wouldn't queue for an hour for them.
The third offering is a Chef's Table serving a long tasting menu which has absolutely nothing to do with sausages in buns. This is hidden behind a curtain. It's hard to glean what the food is like since they only tweet one-word descriptions of 10-12 courses on the day. I would love to go but haven't managed yet. This does have the key advantage of being bookable.
Once the novelty has worn off, and there are fewer bums on seats, I recommend getting your arse down to Bubbledogs, ideally to squeeze round the Kitchen Table on a day when you get wind of empty spaces.
Bubbledogs has been on the receiving end of some scathing reviews, so I thought i would share my experience. The decor is cool, there is a lot of atmosphere and in my view you can never go wrong with an extensive champagne list. Yes, its clearly appealing to the novelty factor of hot dogs and bubbles – but the chilli dog i had was delicious, and so were the sweet potato fries! I went with friends on a Friday night and we had a great time. The price is a slight stumbling block, but then we did order lots of bottles of bubbles so not entirely surprising! I would recommend booking a table rather than queuing (minimum number of 6 people required), but other than that if you're looking for a fun and frivolous evening in a restaurant that doesn't take itself too seriously, then i would say give it a go!
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