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29 October 2014
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.
01 July 2013
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.
19 March 2013
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!
17 December 2012
I lusted after a table at Bubbledogs for a long time. I read the press stories, I believed the hype, hell, I was actually prepared to queue for a hot-dog! The utter anticlimatic experience left me bitterly disappointed.
1) its a hot-dog. How good can a hot-dog actually be? Can you REALLY justify spending £7 on a hot-dog just because it boasts ‘gourmet’ toppings such as blue cheese?
2) The Queue. Yes, you will queue for a dinner seat. You'll probably wait outside in the cold for the best part of an hour. FOR A HOT-DOG!?
3) You will likely share a the worlds smallest table unless you are a party of four (In which case you will queue for 2 hours)
4) The drinks list is surprisingly rubbish. Synthetic purple grape juice anyone? Oh wait, they expect you to drink champagne at £9 a glass…
Ok, rant over. But seriously, don't waste your money.
07 October 2012
We decided to go to Bubbledogs based on all the hype it's created in the social media. That and who doesn't love a good hotdog? I wish we hadn't have bothered! Don't get me wrong, there are some good things about it – like the friendly staff and the buzzy atmosphere – but I just found the food to be quite ordinary!
We were expecting some gourmet sausages and possibly some artisan bread rolls, but what we got instead were some pretty bog-standard sausages and bread that you could easily pick up in your local supermarket. My partner and I each had the Buffalo and the José, which sounded great. But the toppings were meagre with just the thinnest scraping of avocado and tiny drizzle of sour cream in the José that I had. I was hoping for the toppings to be so bountiful that it became messy and oozed out of the bun, but instead I barely needed to wipe the tips of my fingers with a napkin! I felt that I could easily recreate these at home, with better results, and that defeats the object of eating out to me.
The side dishes of sweet potato fries and tots (think hash browns in the shape of croquettes) were delicious though, crispy and not too oily. I just did not like the presentation in card board boxes!
It was good to try some of the little-known producers of champagne on the list, but it would've been nice to see more champagnes by the glass. Although I do understand that they can't open every single bottle!
There is definitely some disparity between the champagne bar and the food that is served.
Interesting concept, but don't go there for the food!
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