Deep down & Dirty | Dirty Bones, 20 Kensington Church Street, London, W8 4EP
Yes, we know, London has burgers and hot dogs coming out of its ears, the trend is threatening to become a little tiresome. Dirty Bones sounds like just another dude food restaurant, nothing new, nothing exciting but it really is much more than that. The name doesn’t help, we have Dirty Burger, Dirty Martini, Lazy Bones, FISHBone, Bone Daddies… Is it all about bones and dirt at the moment? Dirty Bones is at risk of getting lost within all of these places and not standing out, which would be a great shame.
Dirty Bones offers something a little more refined, the group creative development chef Ross Clarke from The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen devised the menu. It is he who helped devise recipes for Heston‘s shows and books. In fact, I liked it so much that I did a first for our blog and actually returned twice in a week. This was mostly because Ade missed out on the first visit and was pretty angry when I told him my findings, plus we found ourselves in the area a week later and it seemed rude not to. An interesting finding of visiting twice, once as an invitation and once just as regular punters was the service. On both trips the staff were great and friendly, they definitely have their eye on the ball.
The entrance by day is a hot dog stand, by night a confusing empty kiosk that you’d easily miss if you have eyesight like mine (Ade disagrees). A door leads you through a hallway of neon into a dark bar where the hostess table is a pinball machine. Retro lamps perch on the corners of tables, parquet flooring creeps up the walls too, mixed with splashes of mottled wallpaper and geometric tiles. Cute boxy shelves like a game of Tetris gone wrong line the walls with random items that are well and truly glued down (I wasn’t trying to nick them). Thank god they chose not to have filament bulbs, a top job by designer Lee Broom. On the first visit live music was provided by Three and a Half Men, really good stuff, I wouldn’t be surprised if they popped up on the X Factor this year.
The menu is nice and short, no messing – six dogs and three bones (ribs, chicken and steak) alongside some sides and just two desserts. The cocktails all with silly names, were OK. I think we all fell in love with the glassware more than the contents. The Mutt’s Nuts £10 with cinnamon and vanilla infused maple syrup was my favourite. The Dirty Bones Negroni £7.50 didn’t resemble a Negroni at all, had it been called something else it would have been more of a hit.
My Mexican Dog £8 was stunning, now this is how I imagined the fare at Bubbledogs to taste, such a shame it didn’t. A lightly toasted bun with a golden sheen, neatly loaded with a juicy beef dog (you can choose between pork, beef or veggie) alongside pulled pork, cactus salsa, lime sour cream (which I asked for on the side as you can see from the picture) and guacamole. Although this was by no means date food, it didn’t get me into a horrendous mess either. The Brit Dog £7.50 was ordered by both my sister and Ade – treacle bacon, mature beer cheddar, gherkins and English mustard. Ade loved his erm, firm pork sausage, the crispy bacon and even the delicate curried gherkins. But he wasn’t over keen on the ‘cylinder’ of beer cheese, maybe a little too processed. You could taste all the individual flavours on both dogs, each stood out and was carefully constructed despite the lighting being so low no one would know.
The Chicken £7 for a half pile consisted of super moist chicken, perfectly seasoned encased in a delicately thin crunchy skin. Some of the best chicken I’ve ever tasted, they happily wrapped up a drumstick for me to take home for Ade when my sister and I couldn’t manage any more. The Beef rib £14 was a succulent short rib gently pulled from the bone with house BBQ sauce finished with a scattering of sesame seeds and spring onion.
The Triple cooked fries £3 Ade found too salty but I adored them, it’s rare to find thin-cut chips that manage to have a thick crust as well as a substantial amount of hot fluffy potato inside. The Bourbon beans £4 were super sweet, (possibly too sweet) but packed a real smoky punch, I ordered them on both occasions. The Grilled and smoked pickles £2.50 aren’t a hot dish as we all thought, but they do come with a touch of drama – the release of smoke when the jar is opened. I really loved these on visit one but the second time all I could think about was about how much they tasted like cigarettes.
And then there’s the desserts, as I said earlier there’s only two of them but they’re both really good, no more additions are needed. Milk & cookies £5 was in fact a warm gooey chocolate cookie with a glass of the purest white ice cream unlike other milk ice cream we’ve tried – it actually tasted of milk! The Coffee & donut £5 a gorgeous silky coffee ice cream disguised as a latte with an old school style ring donut dusted in sugar.
This is the most excited (and surprised) I’ve been about a restaurant in a long time, and certainly worth taking a trip on the circle line out of our usual stomping ground for. Who knows, maybe next time Ade will take me for a pre-dinner drink in the nearby Roof Gardens…
Stand / Thu-Sat 12-3pm
Restaurant & bar / Tue-Sat 6-12am Sun 6-10pm
Nearest station: Kensington High Street