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Forget diets and detoxes, Londoners are cheerfully indulging in the latest culinary trend of gourmet fast food -- and Bubbledogs, a new restaurant serving hotdogs and Champagne, is the latest place to find it.
The trend started in 2010 with food truck vendors like Lucky Chip and the MeatWagon which both sell gourmet burgers. But when the trucks set up permanent offerings around town -- MeatWagon opened MeatLiquor in Marylebone last November and MeatMarket in Covent Garden earlier this year -- restaurateurs also began to catch on. Chef Mark Hix serves steak sandwiches and chicken and chips at his new East London haunt Tramshed; exclusive media hangout Soho House recently launched the Dirty Burger, where cheeseburgers are wrapped in branded greaseproof paper; and crispy buttermilk fried chicken is showing up on menus all over town from hipster hangout Shrimpy’s in King’s Cross to soon-to-open Wishbone in Brixton.
At Bubbledogs, which opened last week, the owners -- husband-and-wife team James Knappet and Sandia Chang – have impressive credentials. Knappet was head chef at the Michelin-starred Marcus Wareing and has worked at the Ledbury and Gordon Ramsay in London, as well as Noma in Copenhagen, which was recently named the World’s Best Restaurant for the second year in a row by Restaurant magazine. Chang joins from pop up restaurant Roganic and has also worked at Marcus Wareing.
Inspired by Crif Dogs, a hotdog joint and cocktail bar in New York’s East Village, Bubbledogs in London’s Fitzrovia neighbourhood is a tiny but buzzing space. Benches, stools and high tables give it the relaxed feel of a bar, and playful extras like bubble-shaped lights and witty cartoon dog artwork keep it casual and fun.
On the menu are 10 takes on the humble hotdog – and none are ordinary. The Jose is topped with salsa, avocado, sour cream and jalapenos; the Trishna Dog has mint mango chutney and coriander; the BLT is bacon-wrapped sausage; and the Korean-inspired K-Dawg is served with kimchi and red bean paste. Each dish includes a pork, beef or vegetarian sausage, a warm homemade bread bun and simple but well-executed sides including coleslaw, potato tots or sweet potato fries. If you prefer something plain, you can order a Naked Dog.
The list of Champagnes and sparkling wines – many from lesser known producers – adds a touch of sophistication, with imaginative descriptions like “Fresh Fruit Bowl” or a “Touch of Spice”, making it easy for even novice Champagne drinkers to order.
Malika Dalamal is the London Localite for BBC Travel