Street food is invading restaurants, and restaurants are taking to the streetsby William Skidelsky / October 17, 2012 / Leave a comment
Published in November 2012 issue of Prospect Magazine
Fancy dining goes underground in the Old Vic Tunnels
Champagne and hotdogs: one of the world’s least appetising culinary combinations, or a marriage made in heaven? Many, if asked, might err towards the former, but James Knappett is of a different opinion. The menu at Bubbledogs, his recently opened restaurant in Fitzrovia, central London, consists of a dozen “gourmet” hot dogs and a selection of “producer” (or grower-made) champagnes. On the website, Knappett explains that his inspiration for the concept was the Italian custom of pairing prosecco with cured pork. It was, he writes, a “no brainer: greasy, spicy, salty meatiness with an ice-cold glass of refreshing bubbles.” And so diners at Bubbledogs can munch their way through, for example, a “K-Dawg” (a kimchi, red bean paste and lettuce hotdog) accompanied by a glass of Laherte blanc de blancs champagne, all for under £20.
The ad executives who work in Fitzrovia evidently approve of the concept, because Bubbledogs has become hugely popular. On the quiet street where it is situated, the early evening line for a table often snakes back past several neighbouring buildings. (As is de rigeur for edgy London restaurants these days, Bubbledogs doesn’t take bookings, except for parties of six or more.) Yet the champagne-and-hotdog operation is itself only really a kind of front for a more ambitious undertaking that started up in October, a few weeks after Bubbledogs first opened. At the back of the dining room is a thick brown curtain. Part it, and you find yourself in a larger, less frenetic inner sanctum, comprising of a state-of-the-art kitchen surrounded on three sides by a bar.