Bubbledogs& is a restaurant which serves grower champagnes alongside an array of gourmet hotdogs and has taken London by storm – people are still queueing for hours to give it a go. I recently queued for two and a half hours and genuinely felt it was worth the wait (what’s wrong with me?!).
But at the back of the restaurant is a doorway covered by a thick black curtain and what lies behind is the & part of Bubbledogs&. James Knappett (owner along with wife and front of house genius Sandia Chang) cooks for 19 guests in an open plan kitchen environment. It’s a beautiful space that made us let out a “wow” as we walked in.
We were seated on some very comfortable stools (the type that you would happily spend hours sitting on) and we were presented with a menu which listed singular ingredients and didn’t give too much away.
The menu is set to vary daily according to market availability and what James can actually forage himself – which makes it all rather exciting. There are currently two sittings, the first half starts at 6:30 and the second half join in the fun at 8:30 and a meal lasts around 3 1/2 hours. They are not yet taking reservations for lunch. The price for our menu was Â£68 per person – and it turned out to be worth every single penny.
Thinly sliced raw scallops with pineapple kicked things off. The scallop had inhaled every inch of flavour from the pineapple making it sweet and slightly tangy and thoroughly delicious.
Cod roe and with crispy pig skin was lovely. The pig skin let out an almighty crunch as I munched through it and was the perfect tool to scoop up the smoked cod roe dip.
Crispy chicken skin with mascarpone and bacon jam was a thing of pure flavour wonderful-ness. Sweet enough to threaten diabetes until the savoury chicken skin took over and balanced the flavours perfectly. I wanted to spread bacon jam on everything.
Cauliflower served different ways, black pepper yoghurt and toasted almonds looked beautiful. The crunchy almonds went hand in hand with the cauliflower like two besotted lovers – how have I never had almonds and cauliflower before?
Sea bass from Cornwall with sea aster and a vanilla butter was simple – James let the quality and cooking of the fish do the talking. The skin was so crunchy a steak knife could have been used to cut through it yet the flakey fish beneath remained moist and delicate.
Smoked mussels, razor clams, pickled rock samphire and giroles was next. The buttery mussels melted in my mouth – I’ve never eaten such tender ones before. The only thing ruining this dish for me was the razor clams which were so chewy I could have mistaken them for leather. My gentleman companion’s were cooked to perfection however.
Next up James poured an appetisingly dark beef consommÃ© from a tea pot over a perfectly formed beef filled ravioli. A strong flavour of rich beef smothered my tastebuds with it’s loveliness.
Duck hearts, poached onion, onion powder, pickled wild garlic and peanuts was brilliant. I first had duck hearts at St.John Hotel and have since been in love. These little hearts were soft, tender and full of flavour. Drenched in the meaty jus, each mouthful was blissful.
A breast of pigeon (roasted on the carcass) and turnip was a little tricky to eat. Cutting through the turnip was like trying to penetrate a gummy ball with a knife and fork. Once in, the turnip had a slightly bitter Brussel sprout-esque flavour to it. The pigeon had a succulent centre but was tough around the edges. Pleasant but not my favourite.
My favourite course was actually the simplest. Burrata (fresh Italian cheese made from mozzarella and cream) served with grape puree, basil and drizzled with olive oil. The flavour and quality of the buratta was phenomenal and it made for the perfect bridge to cross from the savoury to the sweet dishes.
First dessert was baked fig, fig leaf ice cream, creme fraiche mousse, fig carpaccio and white chocolate crumbs. This had taken the humble fig to a new level – the baked white chocolate being a particularly good companion for the fig. Very enjoyable.
Second dessert was pear cake, thin slices of pear, liquorice ice cream and fennel tops. Cake and ice cream – what could be better? The cake was masterful – the sponge was light and crumbly yet it had a beautifully bronzed and crunchy top. A hearty portion but I ate every last bit – obviously.
To finish this meal of gargantuan proportions, a little blackberry chocolate was served. Blackberry jelly, blackberry marshmallow and chocolate cookie were all inside this innocent looking chocolate and it was nice to end with something sweet yet not too heavy.
Service throughout was spot on – both our waiters chatted to us making us feel totally at ease. The atmosphere was almost tranquil and watching James and his two other chefs prepare the dishes and then describe them to us was a really great concept.
We visited the Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs& on their first official day of service and we were impressed at how smoothly it ran – like they had been doing it for months. We got to keep our menus as a souvenir and James kindly signed ours for us which was the perfect end to a really lovely dinner.