About a month ago, a brand new restaurant opened its doors to the people of London, offering up a menu that mainly specialises in hotdogs, but also offers up a few ‘boney’ dishes too, including ribs and fried chicken, the the reviews haven’t been anything short of sublime! And so with that in mind, myself and my oldest and best friend Janey leapt at the chance to try this inconspicuous basement restaurant. It was Valentines Day after all, so we thought we deserved to show ourselves some love with an exciting dinner.
As you walk down the stairs and into the bar area of the restaurant, you will instantly be hit by a wall of very loud music which is played throughout the venue. While the choice of music was actually very good (a live recording of a British female singer who’s name annoyingly escapes me now) it was far too loud for a restaurant – you’d expect it from a bar serving great cocktails (which this place does) but when you’re trying to have a chat over dinner, it’s just a bit irritating, to the point where the couple next to us actually asked to move to a quieter area of the restaurant, as it was ruining their valentine PDA session…
The decor of this place was described by Janey as “posh Ikea meets dark American diner”, and she was sport on. The entire restaurant (which is much bigger than you initially think it will be as you walk in) has been furnished in patches – some walls are covered with mirrors giving it a very clean, sophisticated feel, others with wooden panels and shelves which hold miscellaneous books making this a bit classier than a general dive restaurant, and some are tiled with asymmetric designs reminiscent of the shapes of the 70’s. Aesthetically, this is a very satisfying venue to dine in.
Of course, the main appeal of this place was the food so lets move onto that. The restaurant itself is brought to us by Ross Clarke who was previously at Heston Blumenthal’s 3 Michelin-starred Fat Duck, so obviously I was feeling pretty excited about what extraordinary gastronomic delights he would be offering up.
When we arrived, we were quoted a 30 minute wait time before a table for two would become available for us. This didn’t seem too bad considering it was 8.30pm on a Friday. A Friday that also happened to be Valentines Day. And so we took those 30 minutes in the bar, happily, as the cocktail menu was quite exciting. We both chose to treat ourselves to a Mutt’s Nuts – a short drink of Woodford Reserve, Cinnamon & Vanilla infused Maple Syrup, Angostura Bitters, Lemon & Apple Juice priced at £10 each. Expensive, but strong, and with a great flavour that had a good balance of both sweet and sour.
When we were finally seated and had the chance to look at the food menu, we were pleasantly surprised by the prices. The hot dogs started from £6.50, while half a pile of crispy spiced fried chicken was only £7. We both chose a dog each – Janey’s choice was the £7.50 ‘Brit Dog’ consisting of Treacle Bacon, Mature Beer Cheddar, Curried Gherkins & English Mustard. With each dog you have a choice of a beef, pork or vegetarian dog – Janey went with pork, while I chose the beef dog for my ‘Asian’ with Kimchee Puree, Wasabi Mayo, Crispy Seaweed and Sesame Seed for £8. The dog itself was great – cooked to a almost crispy consistency and very meaty. However hiding beneath the dog, in the crevice of the bun was a layer of Tomato Ketchup which overpowered the Wasabi Mayo to the point of it’s inclusion being made redundant, and I couldn’t even tell you if there was actually any Kimchee Puree included, which was a real shame. The seaweed on the other hand added an interesting texture and a slight sweetness that I enjoyed, but I did have to add a bit of the mustard provided on the table to satisfy my need for something a bit spicy. Janey on the other hand found that the mustard included in her dog was a little overpowering, even questioning whether maybe our condiments had been mixed up in the kitchen!
While my Asian hot dog didn’t quite live up to it’s description, it was still enjoyable and I wasn’t left disappointed. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the side portion of Tripe Cooked Fries that we ordered for £3. Not only were they slightly overly salted, the portion size was measly! I’d have been disappointed if i’d ordered them just for myself, but we were sharing! This left us with maybe a dozen fries each… none of which were even a decent length! Lucky that the dogs were reasonably filling, otherwise we’d have needed to order something else to curb our hunger.
The novelty of of the on-trend American fast-food diner still hasn’t warn off in London, and because the food here is decent, and the cocktails are impressive, it will remain popular even when the “shiny new restaurant” label that is currently attracting its customers has warn away. It’s a great addition to an already somewhat saturated ‘gourmet fast-food’ market, but somehow, I feel as though it is what London needs to mix things up a bit! In essence I suppose that means this restaurant has achieved exactly what it set out to do, and I’m pleased. But they should really consider being less stingy with the fries, and turn the music down so we don’t have to yell at each other over our dinners next time.