This Friday I made my second attempt to eat a hot dog at the new "it" NYC-style diner-come-champagne-bar, Bubbledogs in Fitzrovia.
Bubbledogs sits just along Charlotte Street and it's unassuming exterior belies it's popularity, well it would do, were it not for the jaw dropping queue that has formed outside Bubbledogs almost every single day since it's opening.
I have queued for fashion shows, I have queued for S Club 7, I have queued for nightclubs but I have never, ever, queued for hot dogs... I have never actually eaten a hotdog that didn't come from the cafe at Costco.
I must be honest when I say that this review is a tale of two halves... I am torn. My fast food craving was more than satisfied by the meaty New Yorker hot dog accompanied by deliciously salty and moreish sweet potato chips, but my poor legs and shoulders, cowering beneath the weight of my big fat laptop, were less than pleased. It left me wondering, if I am brutally honest, was Bubbledogs worth the wait?
Lets start with the POSITIVES, shall we?.. I'm a glass half-full kinda gal, especially if that glass is full of champagne.
* THE GOODS
Everyone who knows me knows that i'm a sucker for Champagne (Cava and Prosecco will have do me during my university years, though). I am crazy for a glass of ice cold Pol Roger and nothing cheers me up quite like a glass of champagne. Bubbledogs was always going to be a winner with me on this point. They pride themselves on offering a list of grower champagnes as opposed to conventional big-name brands, which is refreshing and rather exciting in London. While the fizz options are not cheap, they really are worth it and, in true Shona style, I preferred my bubbly to my hot dog... It had been a long day, okay.
The dogs themselves are moreish, decadent and of the utmost quality. Sitting in the warmly lit diner-style eatery, you are presented with a clipboard with several pages of champagne and cocktails, and one page detailing the food options. Each hot dog comes with an option of pork, beef or vegetarian so the menu caters for all. The hot dogs themselves are meaty and indulgent, the buns are soft and doughy and the toppings maketh the dog. I went for the New Yorker with fried onions which was just up my street when smothered in mustard and sweet ketchup. Two of my companions went with the Jose Dog which comes with avocado, salsa and soured while the other opted for the naughty Sloppy Joe dog which is smothered in chilli con carne and cheese. There were no complaints! There really is a hot dog for everyone. The others that really appealed to my inner Bruce Bogtrotter were the Fourth of July, wrapped in bacon and oozing BBQ sauce, the Trishna Dog with juicy mango chutney and fragrant coriander and the shameless Breakie dog served with a fried egg, bacon and my beloved black pudding.
The sides are INCREDIBLE. I'd happily go back for the sweet potato fries alone. They were the perfect balance of sweet and salty without being overly greasy. My only niggle? At £3.50 a pop they are rather steep for fries... But, this is London I suppose. The hot-dogs, however, are a very reasonable price, so much so that I could justify ordering two if I wasn't so figure-conscious.
It's simple, quick and has an incredible atmosphere. It is small, cosy and warm and is the perfect place to unwind with a few glasses of fizz. The concept of Bubbledogs is truly fantastic, and I totally understand the hype, but it is certainly not for everyone.
Now let's move on to the NEGATIVES... I hate this part, i'm such a big girls blouse when it comes to criticism, but i'll keep it constructive like what Nicole does on't X Factor.
* THE WAIT.
Now, I know that this is what one has to expect with Bubbledogs, but I really don't know whether I could muster up the strength to wait in that dastardly queue again. On my first trip we waited roughly an hour before giving up and sauntering to Dim T to wolf down some dim sum and chicken katsu, on this trip we were not even greeted by anybody at Bubbledogs, and while we knew we would have to queue, we did not expect that. The second time we came down, my suggestion of course, we waited roughly two hours before we got in. Two hours. In the pouring rain. Without any snacks to keep me from passing out. This is a little bit ludicrous, to be honest, but it is less of a problem if you are a two. I counted five couples were seated before us, despite having arrived after us. One loved-up pair who were behind us in the queue were promptly sat at the bar and had finished their meal before we were even seated. This was a little bit infuriating, especially given that there were two parties of two sat round table that could have sat us four. But we persisted..
* THE SERVICE
The service was less than impressive. While our waitress was perfectly friendly, we were not given our menus for a good ten minutes after being seated and we felt that everything was very rushed. After standing outside for two hours, i'll be damned if i'm downing my fizz and marching out! (I do take into account that I was irritable and hungry at this point, had I been less of a grumpy guts I would have been happier with the service.)
* THE TRUTH
The hot dogs were not really worth a two hour wait. More fool me for waiting that long, but I have been told by some reliable sources that there are better dogs to be found in London, without soggy socks and sore feet.
And now for the final verdict...
If it's just two of you (or more than six- in which case you can book), go for it- it's a great, unique dining experience and the food is pretty darn tasty. If you queue longer than 30-40 minutes for it, i'd give it a miss. Charlotte Street has lots of other gorgeous eateries to try out (Roka is delicious!) that won't leave you out in the cold.