~ Posted by Kassia St Clair, September 6th 2012
Everyone knows what a hot dog is: a sausage, usually a frankfurter, in a white bread roll with slow-cooked onions (if you’re lucky) and a liberal squirt of ketchup or mustard out of a red or yellow plastic bottle. But when I went with my boyfriend to Bubbledogs, a new champagne and hot dog restaurant in Fitzrovia, the maître d’ informed us there was a two-hour queue, and that we could wait at the tiny bar with others or leave our numbers and go to a nearby pub. We went around the corner for a Thai instead.
This was a Friday evening, two days after Bubbledogs had opened. If you were to picture a Venn diagram of people who liked champagne and people who liked hot dogs you might not imagine that much of an overlap. When I tried my luck at lunchtime—this time with Melanie Grant, our picture editor—there was no queue but the place was full.
Inside, it’s tiny: exposed brick, rustic wooden planking, copper-clad bar, dull-grey industrial-style furniture with quirky sausage dog cartoons on the walls. There isn’t much space, so when people are brought to sit at your table the waiter says brightly: "Hi, I’ve got some friends for you." Since the stools are high and the service is quick, you're unlikely to linger.
Bubbledogs offers 13 different hot dogs ranging from the Naked Dog ("just the dog in between the buns") to more elaborate creations such as the K-Dawg (with kimchi and fermented red bean paste) and Sloppy Joe (with chilli, onions and cheese). I opted for a BLT (with streaky bacon, caramelized lettuce and truffle mayo) with a side of "tots"—like small potato croquettes, but with a hash brown texture. Mel had a Buffalo Dog (deep-fried hot dog with spicy sauce, blue cheese and pickled celery) with a side order of sweet potato fries. They came nestled in little red plastic baskets lined with white grease-proof paper.
As hot dogs go they were good: the rolls weren't claggy and the sausages tasted reassuringly meaty and were neither crumbly nor squelchy. But they were almost pornographically large and very salty. The truffle mayo was served as a sickly primrose-yellow squiggle across the top of the dog and was nearly tasteless. The tots were delicious; I would go back for a helping of those alone. Mel was won over by the combination of spicy buffalo sauce with the creamy cheese in her dog, and her sweet potato fries balanced the saltiness. We had to get back to work, so we had a root beer and an apple juice. It’s anyone’s guess how the champagne would have tasted in such roughhouse company.