If you’re under the impression that Bubbledogs is all about fizz, hipsters and hot dogs, then think again. Okay… it’s partly that but behind the curtain at the back of the building lies Kitchen Table, and it’s bloody good.
Tasting menus can sometimes be a bit of a risk, none more so than ones like this where each dish is defined by a single noun representing the main ingredient. It doesn’t really give much away and you’re essentially left hoping for the best, especially at £78 per head. I’d been looking forward to this though as they’ve really built a great reputation here.
Kitchen Table is an intimate space, seating 19 in total but the service is split into two sittings. Ours started at 18.00 with 10 diners. The second started at 20.00, by which time we were about half way through.
Chef James Knappett heads up the kitchen and I’m sure his old boss Marcus Wareing would approve of the standard of food that his brigade is turning out. Knappett’s wife Sandia Chang is manager of the restaurant. Their menu changes daily using the best products available on the day and each dish is announced and explained as it’s served to you.
The menu kicked off with ‘lobster’. It turned out to be a lobster cocktail, served on a tiny square slate. The dish consisted of a piece of claw meat, served with Marie Rose sauce and shredded iceberg lettuce. We found that the delicate flavour of the lobster was slightly overwhelmed by the sauce.
‘Cod’ soon followed and was represented by little choux pastry buns filled with a creamy taramasalata like paste, largely made up of smoked cod roe.
The next course ‘bacon’ was a very memorable dish indeed. The crispy chicken skin, topped with bacon bits was a little taste of heaven. This would be my perfect gourmet bar snack.
This was followed by the best little toasted ham sandwich imaginable. The truffle mayonnaise smelled delicious and really added a touch of luxury to what would could’ve been quite a basic dish.
‘Bass’ was served with pickled carrots and caraway. The pickles really made this dish for me, bringing great freshness. The fish of course was perfectly cooked.
‘Chicken’ was actually chicken and pheasant liver parfait. It was fabulously light, yet it packed heaps of flavour. It even won over my dining partner the Hog, who’s a self confessed chicken liver sceptic.
‘Sprouts’ was a surprising contender for best dish of the evening. We each got half a sprout top, blanched then grilled and served with an aged Parmesan sauce and fine bacon bits (no, nothing like the abomination you’ve experienced at Pizza Hut’s salad bar).
‘Turkey’ was also a surprising dish. We were served a crystal clear turkey consommé. This was poured over a dot of cranberry jelly and accompanied by light, melt in your mouth herb dumplings. The oregano may have been a little overpowering for some (the Hog), however the meaty flavour of the bird won in the end for me.
Our next meaty treat came in the form of ‘pheasant’. No big surprises here. We saw the birds being roasted on the bone in pans before being finished in the oven. The addition of salsify and hazelnut added texture and an earthiness to the dish. Everything worked well together to make this a very accomplished plate of food.
‘Colston Bassett’ was our cheese course. It was served with poached pear, reduced port, honey and chicory. The combination of the salty blue cheese was offset beautifully by the sweetness of the pear and honey. It may have been simple but taste wise, I couldn’t fault it.
We were offered pudding wine but instead we chose a very interesting IPA to go with our desserts. We thought it matched up rather well and at 8.3% A.B.V. it certainly puts hairs on your chest. We often go for hoppy beers to accompany desserts, give it a try sometime.
The ‘snowball’ was their version of the 70’s cocktail: glace cherry, advocaat, yoghurt sorbet and crushed ice made from lemonade. It was a very nice little palette cleanser.
‘Ginger’ came in the form of cake. It was moist and had lovely chewy bits of apricot in it. The apple butter and crème fraiche helped cut through the sweetness to make for a tasty dessert.
Almost there… ‘Prunes’ was absolutely delicious. Served with aerated custard and something similar to sabayon, all it lacked was a little texture.
The final course ‘After eight’ was a fun way to end the evening. Lovely mint ice cream on a biscuit base, covered in dark chocolate and sat on its very own plinth.
We ate a lot of exciting things that evening. It really was every bit as good as we’d hoped. You can’t expect absolutely everything to be to your taste when there are so many courses but this came close. It’s enjoyable to watch your food being prepared right in front of you and see how high the standards are in this kind of kitchen. We felt almost privileged to be able to watch such precision at work. We even saw one course re-plated as the chef wasn’t happy with it.
Our only negative point was that we were disappointed to be offered a truffle up-sell on two courses, at a cost of £10 each per course. This would have pushed the bill up by £40 plus service. Considering we were already paying £78 each before drinks and service, we felt that refusing it seemed to somehow devalue what we’d had. Nevertheless, refuse it we did. Personally I always feel a tad awkward when saying no. In my opinion, either put truffle on it or don’t. Alternatively, there could be a premium menu option at the outset.
All in all though, this was a great experience and I felt it was actually reasonable value for 14 courses, especially considering the amount of work that went into each dish. The set-up provided a little theatre and made for an entertaining evening. But above all, this is undoubtedly one of the best tasting menus we’ve eaten.
All that’s left now is to go back for some hot dogs and fizz. Hello hipsters…
Meal for two (with drinks and service): £221