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Wednesday 19 March 2014

Dirty Bones - Finborough Arms - Bridge Coffee House & Bar - Made in the Shade - Glazed & Confused

Tuesday 4th March - Hot Dogs have been all over London in the last year or two, but they never seem to get much air time with those bloody burgers always stealing the show.  On the street, the likes of Big Apple Hot Dogs, Engine Hotdogs and Popdogs have been working away, whilst Street Kitchen at The MillerSorry, No Vacancies & Bubbledogs have taken the dogs inside.

This brings me to London's latest hot dog joint, Dirty Bones in High Street Kensington.  They launched by giving away free hot dogs for 3 days in January at their street level hatch.  The stall is open from 12-3 Thu-Sat selling a Classic Yankie Dog & Triple-Cooked Chips for £5 (this deal might change after April).  I know, Triple-Cooked Chips are everywhere, but since chef Ross Clarke is in the house (ex-Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen), I feel they deserve their place more than most.

The street stand is just a cover for the main event though - a stylish and quirky bar & restaurant hidden down some very funky stairs.  Any of the photos below that seem more attractive than usual will be the work of The Gaztronome, one of the best food & drink photographers in London at the moment. Visit his website at your peril, you will be stuck salivating over his pictures for the rest of the day.

Photo Credit : The Gaztronome

Photo Credit : The Gaztronome
Max and I made our way in to the bar after being greeted by friendly front of house whose work station is a pinball table.  I started off with a very drinkable Big Apple - Berentzen's Apple, Jack Daniel's, Lillet Rouge & Peychaud's Bitters with a flame grilled Toffee Apple Slice.  Max couldn't resist getting a Dirty Flatliner - Solerno Blood Orange Liqueur, Tabasco with a Monster Munch Crumb Rim. Bonkers.

Photo Credit : The Gaztronome

Photo Credit : The Gaztronome

Boilermaker - Dirty Flatliner with Monster Munch rim & a beer
We were hesitant about moving into the dining room as the bar was so attractive, but the décor only improved as we changed location.  Dirty Bones resisted the urge to go for the exposed brickwork and industrial lighting, and have instead gone for a totally nutty look, with mismatching lights, bits and bobs on little shelves, and snazzy wallpaper.  The retro patterns perfectly compliment the awesome Motown soundtrack.

Photo Credit : The Gaztronome

So, onto the food. We shared a Frenchie (chives, celeriac remoulade, roast garlic purée and crispy shallots) and an Asian (kimchi purée, wasabi mayonnaise, crispy seaweed and sesasme seed).  All dogs are available in pork, beef or vegetarian and can also be served "naked".  

The hot dogs were excellent, and they are reasonably priced at £6.50-£8.50.  The problem with hot dogs in a restaurant is that it is all over too quickly (I was not a Bubbledogs fan), but Dirty Bones have you covered with some really interesting sides.  The Bourbon Beans were outstanding, and Mac & Cheese disappeared pretty quickly.  Grilled & Smoked pickles arrive in a jar full of smoke for a bit of extra fun.

They also sensibly offer Crispy Spiced Fried Chicken, Beef Short Ribs with a House BBQ sauce that involves marshmallows, and Boston Ribeye Steak.

Photo Credit : The Gaztronome
Ross Clarke saved a bit of showmanship for dessert too with his take on Milk & Cookies and Coffee & Doughnut.  We went for the latter - a respectable ring doughnut with a glass of ice cream disguised as a coffee.  I don't usually go for coffee ice cream, but we both agreed that it was a wonderful example of the genre.

Dirty Bones really took me by surprise.  I was expecting a West London attempt at being on trend, but it has its own funky personality, with fun food and drink, and some top tunes.  Go along with a group of friends!  Downstairs is open Tue-Sat 6-12 and Sun 6-10.

Max and I decided to get one more drink, so we made our way over to the recently refurbished Finborough Arms near West Brompton / Earls Court.  

It reopened under its traditional name in February for the first time in 13 years.  An artist has recreated the original sign, consigned to landfill many years ago, using an image from a collectors’ card issued by Whitbread brewery - previous owners of the pub - in the 1970s.  The pub was renamed The Finborough in 2001. A nightclub was installed in the basement. It closed and reopened as the Finborough Brasserie in 2006. In 2010 it was relaunched again as the Finborough Wine Café.

The business is independently owned by landlord Jeff Bell, and is free from any brewery or pub company ties.  The bar is well stocked with 2 ciders, 6 cask ales & 6 craft beers including the likes of Lagunitas IPA, Camden Flue Faker, Birifficio Italiano Tipopils and Anarchy Urban Assault.  

Décor is minimal but the pub benefits from having natural light coming in on all sides.  Anywhere with an open fire & a piano gets my vote!  They don't have a kitchen but you can order pizzas from Firezza next door.  The pub will benefit from its close relationship with the award-winning Finborough Theatre above it. The launch of the pub coincided with press night for Terence Rattigan’s Variation on a Theme starring Rachael Stirling.

Staff are very friendly & the beers were great so I will definitely check it out again if I am in need of a good pint around Earls Court / King's Road.

Wednesday 5th March - The day after Dirty Bones, I made my way over to Hoxton for the launch of Made in the Shade.  Lauren and I decided to squeeze in a drink at The Bridge Coffee House & Bar on Kingsland Road first.

The Bridge is a Shoreditch gem.  Downstairs is quirky rock'n'roll diner / dive bar filled neon signs, coffee, cakes, spirits and beers, but that's nothing compared to upstairs.  There you will find a stunning 19th century lounge filled with chandeliers, statues, mirrors, thrones and ornate tables - the indoor equivalent of Magic Garden in Battersea (another favourite of mine).  You really need to see it to believe it, and you will find it hard to leave once you have.  There's not really much else to say other than it stays open til late - see you there.

We tore ourselves away from The Bridge and walked round the corner to check out Made in the Shade.  Hoxton's latest hangout is the brainchild of three top bartenders - Jim Wrigley, Jezza Thompson Jewitt & Peter Lewis.  There is no quirky concept here, just great drinks, tasty British & Caribbean inspired food & a big block of ice.  They have done up the old Bacchus pub, leaving a couple of reminders behind for old timers.

Food comes from BBC celebrity chef Patrick Williams and the canapé versions of main courses flying around were enough to make me want to come back for more.  Big thanks to waitress Nicola for seeking us out with trays of miniature treats & being generally excellent all evening.

Lauren and I were handed a couple of "shady dollars" to exchange for some house cocktails, so we set up shop near Jim Wrigley.  Lauren started with The Pink One, an unashamedly drinkable cocktail with vodka, pomegranate and apple juice, whilst I went for a UFC ("Ultimate F*cking Cocktail") which came with a wrestler figurine and an array of props.

The UFC was so good that I stayed on it all night - Whiskey, Rum, Kamm & Sons, Guinness Foreign Extra Syrup and a pleasingly chunky cube of ice.  Despite it being billed as the "manly cocktail", Lauren soon switched over to UFCs too.  The attractive Shady Maid Lemonades (gin, lemon juice, cucumber, citrus peel syrup & soda) will have to wait til next time.

The Pink One and Shade Maid Lemonade

The Pink One


The main reason there will be a next time is the bartenders.  Jim & co. managed to remain witty & charming throughout the incredibly busy launch evening, and after seeing Jim & Jezza pratting around (and winning) at a barrel-aged gin cocktail competition last Sunday (more on that another time), I am keen to spend another evening in their company.  Well worth a visit!

What have I been eating recently?

Yes, eating.  No tonic tasting sessions or new gins to report on this week.  Instead I'd just like to mention Glazed & Confused doughnuts.  "Gourmet Doughnuts. Hand-moulded. Yeast-risen. Dough, fillings, glazes and toppings all made from scratch using premium ingredients. No artificial anything." I was lucky enough to be given a dozen of these bad boys on my way in to work by one half of the Walthamstow based company (that is not to be glazed and confused with the Chicago company, Glazed and Infused).

The Sticky Toffee Pudding, Stem Ginger and messy Lemon Curd were my favourites, though the Raspberry Pavlova deserves a mention for being so ridiculous.  The Classic Raspberry Filled also held its own as did the Coffee, Toffee & Nut.  I like the sound of Marshmallow Teacake & Strawberry Shortbread varieties that weren't in the box this time around.

If you want to know where to get your hands on some, check out their stockists on this map. Alternatively, if you are feeling too lazy, you might be able to get them to drop off an honesty box at your place of work.  They leave behind a pile of doughnuts with a price guide and a box to put money in which they pick up again at the end of the day, no questions asked - do you have an honest office?

Raspberry Pavlova and Ginger doughnuts from Glazed and Confused

Square Meal

Square Meal

Dirty Bones on Urbanspoon

Made in the Shade on Urbanspoon


  1. Those photos really do make it look awesome! Really want to try Dirty Bones, haven't had a hot dog in ages

  2. The Gaztronome is a great photographer! Dirty Bones is good fun - much less effort than Bubbledogs.

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