Rarely do new openings receive as much hype as Bubbledogs has done, gathering unprecedented anticipation and a thousand-strong following on Twitter before it even opened. No wonder we had to wait for a table when arriving late last week at close to 10pm, then.
The restaurant, which pairs Champagne with hotdogs, is the brainchild of James Knappett and his wife Sandia Chang. They’re not short of credentials. Whilst James was previously head chef at Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, Sandia has worked in establishments including Noma, per se and Roganic.
Most of the team working in the Bubbledogs kitchen have similarly impressive CVs, and when you head down to the loo you’ll see the walls papered with the menus of restaurants where they’ve worked, Heston’s Fat Duck and Dinner amongst them.
Decor aside and hype forgotten, it’s left to the eating to decide whether the much lauded sausages are the dog’s bollocks or just a rather trendy pile of doggy doo doo. We reckon they’re somewhere smack bang in the middle. As much as the idea of an all day breakfast hot dog or chili Mexican offering appeals, and does exactly what it says on the (Pedigree Chum) tin, no amount of topping disguises the fact that you’re eating a basic bun and a pretty standard Frankfurter-style sausage, and paying £7.50 for the privilege. We’re not suggesting that it’s not a step-up from Ikea’s infamous offering, but it’s still interesting to compare their 45p price tag.
The sausages are specially made for the restaurant by a Worcestershire farm shop, and their lack of flair will surely be claimed to be intentional given the unashamedly unfancy way that Bubbledogs approaches eating, but when the novelty factor is over, there’s something slightly unpalatable about the thought of so much chef talent going into the production of a rather lacklustre dish.
We’re assured by wine buffs that the list of Grower Champagnes, which shuns big names in favour of the little guys, is much more impressive and very reasonably priced for what you’re getting - though, not necessarily cheap.
They say every dog has its day, and it seems like Bubbledogs is in its element right now. Whether it can stand the test of time remains to be seen. It’s a dog eat dog world out there, and once the novelty fades there’s a serious risk of Bubbledogs being swallowed up whole.
The imminent launch of the Kitchen Table at the back of the restaurant, which will see James host intimate tasting menu lunches and dinners for small groups of diners is a much more exciting prospect, and one which we’ll be sure to check out. We just can’t help but wonder if the dogs which give the venue its name are really the cash cows which enable some truly interesting cooking to go on out back.
The meal for two, which included two dogs, a glass of champagne, some potato tots and a beer, came to £29.