The name sounds odd and the concept even odder, but Bubbledog has buzz and it appears to have staying power. Located on Charlotte St near Goudge St tube station is a hidden gem of eateries only few block from busy Oxford St. Pick up Travel & Leisure, Conde Nast Traveler, or Time Out and you're likely to read about Bubbledog. It's a sophisticated hot dog joint that serves inventive variations alongside glasses of champagne. Get it now?
People queue to get in, up to 90 mins. No reservations accepted. The place has original red brick walls, bar height communal tables, warmly light Edison bulbs, and dark wood plank floors. The architecture is quite amazing, but this is more a scene for the East Village or the Mission - queuing to eat upscale street food in a cozy stylish atmosphere? Sheila and I went there late on a blistering cold Thursday night and we still waited a good 30 mins in 30 degree temperature mind you! Is it worth it? For foodies, but only just once.
Once inside we sat intimately close to other patrons, don't expect to have a quiet conversation here. The menu is written on the chalkboard above the glass shelved bar - creative hot dog types like New Yorker, K-Dawg (Korean), and Buffalo (BBQ). The catch is that the dog can be beef, chicken, or veggie! Hence the reason for our visit. I opted for the Trishna Dog (Indian) with sweet mango relish, mint chutney, and sev (fried chickpea flour flakes). Sheila opted for the Naked Dog which was a hot dog with no fixings and a side of sweet potato fries. The hot dogs are served in plastic basket alongside squeeze bottles of ketchup and mustard. Again the whole upscale street food concept.
The Trishna Dog was pretty tasty, a nice balance of sweetness from the mango relish, spiciness from the mint chutney, and crunchiness from the sev. The bun had been steamed and was light and airy. As for the dog, it was surprisingly flavorful and I'm not a big fan of faux meats. The consistency was a bit weird for me, but it tasted seasoned and was cooked well. A good concept that can certainly be made at home with the right ingredients. Portion size was a bit small, so you might want to go for two if famished.
The sweet potato fries were rather pedestrian, not a lot of flavor and slightly undercooked. They tasted fine when piping hot, but lost a bit of appeal when cold. The size and portion were fine, just lacked seasoning. We left about 1/3 in the basket. Definitely need some tips from In-n-Out.
The wait staff was pleasant, but as the place is so crowded and noisy it make take a few hand waves and eye contact to get their attention. Also at £7 per hot dog, this is not an everyday eatery. In fact, those that are hungry could probably eat two. Bottom line is that you're paying for the novelty and popularity. It's worth trying once, and then replicate the recipes and your next Super Bowl or 4th of July parties! I give Bubbledog a 5.5 out of 10.