As much as I enjoy paying £20 for hotdogs and queuing for an hour and 15 minutes, this place wa-
Oh wait, no, I don’t like doing either of those things.
This cheeky little hot dog joint masquerading as a trendy ‘champagne bar’ serving supposedly gourmet, state of the art hotdogs as you’ve never tasted before is nothing more than another pretentious, no-bookings-for-parties-under-six, crowded little dive serving average food at deceptive prices and all the while making you feel like you should be grateful for having the opportunity to eat here.
For starters, the words ‘champagne bar’ implies that you can actually go to the bar and sit there whilst waiting for a table. However, due to the sheer size restrictions of the place, people are actually seated at the bar to eat, thus leaving no room for this ‘champagne bar’ experience. And when I say seated at the bar I mean, put behind a little slab of wood meant to support your food while you hunch over your sad little £7 hot dog and try not to fall off the uncomfortable stool.
As if it wasn’t irritating enough having to queue owing to the recent central London trend of ‘no reservations,’ there is no place to queue other than the dark corridor connecting the main door of the restaurant (I feel I’m being generous using the word ‘restaurant’ here as that connotes some sort of nice ambience and experience of pleasant eating) to the restaurant itself. When a bunch of fellow queuers asked if we could grab a drink and sip on it in the corridor to numb the tediousness of waiting, the hostess said that wasn’t allowed. We were also told if we left the corridor queue we would lose our place. And as previously mentioned, getting a drink at the ‘bar’ was not an option as people were sat there to eat. All in all, trapped between a rock and a hard place.
When finally seated with my friend at around 7:30pm at the little slab of wood (lucky us!), we ordered some champagne and beer and surveyed the options.
The concept is simple. Choose your ‘dog’ – pork, beef or veggie – then pick one of a dozen styles, from ‘naked’ (just a dog in a bun) to the more adventurous ‘Buffalo dog’ (a dog fried in buffalo sauce served with bleu cheese and pickled celery shavings). Those were the two I sampled and both were as underwhelming in flavor as they were a waste of money. For around £7 per dog you expect these dogs to be the bees knees of hot dogs. I know I’m American and I’m spoiled by amazing hot dogs in New York at just around $2 per dog (Shout out to Gray’s Papaya), but if you’re going to charge £7 for a hot dog, it better be the best damn gourmet hot dog I’ve tasted. And it certainly wasn’t. The buffalo dog should have been bursting with fiery hot buffalo sauce flavor complemented by cool creamy bleu cheese. The flavors were shockingly dull – there was barely any buffalo sauce on the dog – it was almost more of a subtle infusion of the flavours that should have been there, giving you just a teaser taste of the flavors but not delivering the full monty. The chefs completely held back — the ‘wow’ factor was severely lacking.
The frustrating part is, I laud the idea behind this restaurant. People love junk food and people like a little bit of fine dining sometimes. People love Mickey D’s but they’d rather skulk off back home to eat it, hiding the grease streaked paper bag and guiltily devouring the burgers and fries in the comfort of their home rather than be seen actually eating in the McDonald’s. So if you can create a poshed-up junk food place where people can eat cheap unhealthy dogs but couple it with classy champagne, it not only becomes socially acceptable to eat the hot dogs, but you’re seen as a trendy person whilst doing it. The name is further homage to this clever idea of blending two very distinctive dining methods – that of fast food and that of fine dining. Hot dogs and champagne. Bubbledogs. But the one thing Bubbledogs screwed up on in the process was they failed to make these ‘gourmet’ hot dogs any good. What a shame.
By comparison, there were a few saving graces including the lager I ordered and the tater tots – little parcels of potato goodness resembling miniature hash browns fried to a golden crisp. Tater tots are also hard to find on a menu in the UK so this was a pleasant find. The sweet potato fries were pretty decent as well. The decor was also quite lovely with a large exposed brick wall, rustic woods, and trendy lighting fixtures. Small comforts for massive amounts of disappointment.
The Bubbledogs website says ‘All smaller parties welcome at the door. Please note there may be a short wait, but it will be worth it’. Bubbledogs, I’d definitely have to disagree with you on this one.
0207 637 7770
70 CHARLOTTE ST,
LONDON W1T 4QG