Chef James Knappet was once the head chef at Marcus Wareing at The Berkeley, with previous experience at Gordon Ramsay, Noma and Per Se. Then he quit his job to setup a hot-dog joint. Yes, you read that right – a hot-dog joint! But not just any old hot-dog joint – he combined the menu with a beverage list dominated by Champagne. Hence the name Bubbledog – you come here for Champagne and hot dog. And if that’s not unusual enough, it has hidden pleasures – behind the curtains at the back of a small dining area, lies a full-blown professional kitchen with seats for 20 guests! And it’s here that Chef James utilises his experience and skills – not, of course, making hot dogs, but – instead – cooking an elaborate Michelin-starred tasting menu. The concept is same as Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare in New York, but with a much more friendly and humble chef. Leading the service and wine pairing is Chef James’ wife and business partner, Sandie Chang.
The menu here is simple. There’s a big blackboard on the wall, showing the date and a list of 12 ingredients – which are the 12 courses being served that night. Everyone gets the same menu – oyster, crab, scallop, haddock, chicken, truffle, beef, etc. Here, they’re not afraid to use the best ingredients, and each course is a ‘proper’ course – not just a piece of asparagus chucked onto a plate, as happens at other places I could mention!
OK, so you don’t get lavish silverware, or a classy dining room. There’s not even a tablecloth. But this is because Chef James prefers to spend his money on the highest quality ingredients, and the results clearly show. Every bite was delicious, every dish had cohesive flavours, and every plate showed good attention to detail. It’s just a pleasure to eat here – definitely one of the best places in London I would say. Yes, you need to be prepared to talk to strangers sitting next to you – after all, it’s a sharing counter with an open kitchen, showing you all the action that usually lies behind the scenes, which is all part of the experience, a thoroughly enjoyable experience!