Bubbledogs – Champagne and Hot Dogs

Posted by Ruth

Where: Charlotte Street, W1T
Cost: Hot Dogs approx £7
Website: http://www.bubbledogs.co.uk
Twitter: @bubbledogsuk

I like hot dogs, and I like champagne (a lot). So when a friend suggested a pre-Christmas get together at Bubbledogs, a restaurant serving just that, I was instantly sold.

As you can only reserve a table for 6 people or more, we expected a small queue on arrival. However, having arrived at 6pm to find we were just second in the queue, we did not expect to wait for an hour.

After finally getting into the warm our expectations were high. The excellent champagne absolutely hit the mark. Unfortunately, the food was very mixed. I had the Buffalo Dog (served with spicy sauce, blue cheese and pickled celery), along with sides of potato tots and coleslaw.

While the toppings were delicious the actual hot dog and bun were quite low quality. This was disappointing given that the prices are not cheap (our bill came to £40 pp for hotdogs, sides and 2 glasses of champagne). Conversely the coleslaw was the best I’ve ever eaten, with a perfect balance of creaminess, crunch and zing.

The decor – with high tables, stools and exposed bricks – accompanies the food well and helps to create an NYC atmosphere. The toilets, adjourned with vintage menus from classic establishments such as the Fat Duck and Le Gavroche are a nice touch.

I have mixed feelings about bubbledogs. On the one hand the food is tasty, the champagne delicious, and the atmosphere is fun. However, the prices are a little steep for the quality on offer and the queues are prohibitive. Overall, I’m not sure I would visit again. It feels a little like style over substance, and I wonder how long the hype and crowds will last.


The Cat’s Pyjamas!

Where: Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, EC2
When: 24/02/12 (exhibition open till 28th May)
Website: http://www.guildhallartgallery.cityoflondon.gov.uk/GAG/Learning/Late+Views.htm
Price: Free

Intrigued by the idea of an event combining art, gin cocktails and 20s music, we went along to the Cat’s Pyjamas night with high hopes. This was a late night opening of the Guildhall Art Gallery , displaying the Age of Elegance exhibition. Unfortunately our expectations were not quite met by the event, and on leaving we were a little disappointed, with a feeling that the evening could have delivered much more.

On entering the gallery we were unsure which way to turn, there was a useful handout on the different activities, but no clue as to where these were located. Unsure, we headed up to the main gallery, which was filled with people dressed in 20s attire, and a small group dancing to the Charleston . Many people had gone to considerable effort to dress up- which did add to the atmosphere. However the bright lights of the gallery, and mix of statues and much older paintings seemed to jar with the exhibition. The combined effect felt like a 20s night by numbers, rather than a transportation back to the jazz age.

In search of the promised cocktails, we eventually located a small pop up drinks area, which had already accumulated a rather large queue. We both tried the Trilby; gin, maraschino liqueur, grapefruit juice, lemon juice and sugar. While delicious, this was not great value at £9 each, especially as it was served pre-prepared in a very small glass.

The exhibition was split across two areas and so we decided to explore, hoping to find more. Whilst the paintings were attractive, they did not capture the essence of the age of elegance that we were expecting and failed to keep us sufficiency interested. Fortunately the evening did improve when we went to the literary section. Mark Oostervan read a short story called ‘The Truth About George’ by P.G. Wodehouse; an intriguing tale of man overcoming his stammer and shyness. The audience were enchanted and this was definitely the highlight of the night. Elsewhere dancing lessons took place, but with our combined lack of coordination we decided to give this a miss.

We felt on balance that given the event was free it was worthwhile going along, and good fun to get dressed up in pearls and braces. What was missing was a certain speakeasy atmosphere of decadence and danger, that the best 20s nights in London deliver. So while it could have been much more, it was still an interesting night, and it was good to explore one of London ‘s lesser known galleries.

Hide Bar

Where: Bermondsey Street, SE1
When: 14/02/12
Website: http://www.thehidebar.com/
Price: £7 – £8 a cocktail

Hide by name, hide by nature – at least that’s what our drinks did for nearly half an hour at this Bermondsey Street cocktail bar. Having just moved into the area, Ruth and I were keen to explore “The Street” and took the opportunity to pop round the corner for a cocktail after our Valentine’s meal in.

Upon arrival we were shown to a table towards the butterfly wallpapered back area of the bar. After a few minutes of deliberation, I went up to the bar to order our cocktails. I was asked where I was sitting and told that the drinks would be brought over. Almost fifteen drinkless minutes later, we grabbed a waiter and said our drinks hadn’t arrived yet. He went to look into it. Ten minutes later, still no drinks (or waiter). Ruth went to see what was happening and a few minutes later a third waiter returned to our table to inform us our drink order had been lost and we were asked to order again. No apology – just a matter-of-fact sense of ambivalence towards us.

When the drinks finally arrived, around half an hour after we’d initially ordered them, they came without any kind of regret or apology for the wait. I’d love to say that it was because it was Valentine’s and they were heaving, but the bar wasn’t overly crowded – they must see more people on a Friday night.

The sorry state of the service was a shame because the belated drinks were actually pretty good. I had the Eagle Sling – Eagle Rare single barrel Kentucky Bourbon, Galliano Authentico, orange and lemon zests, stirred and topped with Canada Dry ginger ale. Ruth plumped for the Passionate Englishman – Hendrick’s Gin stirred with passion fruit purée, lemon and sugar. But by that time the shine had been taken off the experience and, rather than try something else from the extensive menu, we went home. On asking for the bill at the bar it came back with someone else’s drinks on, just to compound our sense of their incompetence. We got them removed, settled the bill and left.


Nice drinks, shocking service. Perhaps they were having an off night. We were really excited about having such an extensive menu of cocktails – some of which are Hide originals – a five minute walk from our new front door. With it being so close, we’ll probably try it again and report back. But don’t hold your breath.