“Was it worth it?”, one man asks the latest person to exit past the long line of hungry diners…
We’re about to clock 45 minutes in the queue at Bubbledogs – which in my books, is outrageous.
It’s like torture, standing on the other side of the long glass window, looking in. How we must look from “the inside”… wide eyes, long faces, maybe even a little drool… willing people to lick the sauce from their fingers, down that last drop of champagne and get the hell out of there so we can be seated!
It’s been over an hour now.
As the queue begins to build and stretch around the street corner, you may be wondering what we’re all waiting for? The latest Birkin bag?… a meeting with the Dali Lama?… is Willy Wonka opening his factory again? No, just hot dogs. Those hideous pink sausages which Schapelle calls “lips and arseholes”.
An hour and 15 minutes and counting…
My legs become week and my thoughts irrational, what the hell are we doing here? A woman further down has been smart enough to sneak a pint of beer from the pub on the corner, she has fluids. I feel dehydrated.
Did I mention this is all just for a hot dog? They could feed me just about anything now and I’d be happy. I’m looking forward to the champagne.
After an hour and a half, we’re through the door. And I applaud the group of girls that vacate so we can eat. Our waiter is impressed when we tell him how long we’ve waited – apparently it can take up to 3 hours!
Husband and wife team, James Knappett – former sous chef at The Ledbury (he also did some time at Noma, Per Se and helped Thomas Keller bring the French Laundry to Harrods) and Sandia Chang are behind this latest London hotspot eatery, Bubbledogs. Check out their logo, cute right?
It’s crowded and not really comfortable. But with only about 30 seats and a queue twice that long still left salivating at the window. It’s not really designed for lingering. High top tables and stools are crammed in to the space, bare brick walls with cartoon drawings of dachshunds, and bubble-like light fittings hang above a copper topped bar.
It’s fancy dude food – serving only hot dogs (beef, pork or veggie) and made fancy by the pairing with grower champagne. Grower champagnes are sparkling wines made in the Champagne region of France that are produced by the same estate that owns the vineyards from which the grapes come. There are about a dozen dogs on offer – from the plain “Naked Dog”; sausage in a bun (£6), the “K Dawg”; sausage with bean paste, lettuce and spicy kimchi (£7) and the “Sloppy Joe”; sausage with chilli and grated cheese (£7.50). Add any additional topping for 70p.
We’ve already mentally placed our order, and fantasized over it… hours ago in the queue. So straight up it’s a bottle of Raventos i Blanc, De Nit, Rose 2009 (£35) and we go heavy on the sides with Sweet potato fries (£3.50) and Coleslaw (£2.50), in the hope they might arrive sooner.
Piglet has resorted to licking mustard off her hand to stop from passing out.
Between us we’ve chosen the “New Yorker”; sausage with grilled sauerkraut or NY onions, or both (£6.50) – we have both and add cheese.
The “Jose”; sausage with salsa, avocado, sour cream and pickled jalapenos (£7.50), and again we add cheese. And the “Naked Dog” with extra bacon and cheese.
We’re inhaling everything. Although I think we might be drunk after just one glass of bubbles – the sweet potato fries are the best! So glad we’ve ordered two lots. Bordering on starvation has left me tasting nothing but a hot dog in a bun, but it’s all good, and fun. I’m kind of wishing we’d got the “Horny Dog”; sausage in Bubbledogs cornbread with corny bits (£7). But I wasn’t of sound-mind when we ordered.
Still not satisfied – well we are, but sitting down for half-an-hour doesn’t justify waiting 3 times that long to do so. We feel we need to order more… some Tots (£3.50). Golden, delicious and salty, like a little hashbrown bite.
At the other end of the spectrum is &. A modern European kitchen table that resides behind curtains out the back. It’s literally a table centred around the kitchen that seats only 19 people for a 14 course tasting menu (£60), that’s prepared in front of you by Knappett. Quite a contrast to the fast food served out front.
Good fun and luckily great company to stand in line with. But there is no way I will wait an hour-and-a-half for a hot dog, ever again.
Bubbledogs – 70 Charlotte Street, London W1T 4QG – 0207 637 7770