There’s a lot of filth-focussed nomenclature when it comes to casual-dining eateries these days. We’ve already got Dirty Burger in Kentish Town and Vauxhall, not to be confused with Big Dirty Burger popping up around London. It’s a fitting adjective to describe the sort of food you expect to get around your mouth as much as in it, eaten without cutlery, and always great with alcohol.
To this list we can now add Dirty Bones – the new Kensington cocktail and dining hotspot for subterranean gourmet dude-food, where the light is low and the beats are brash.
|Photo Credit: @TheGaztronome|
A kerb-side kiosk during the day (Thurs – Sat 12 – 3) that opens it’s basement drinking-and-dog den to visitors by night (from 6pm Tues – Sun), Dirty Bones specialises in innovative takes on the classic hotdog (the “dogs”), some serious meat offerings (the “bones”) and an array of sides.
For lubrication, there’s a bar with talented staff behind it mixing up a whole host of suitably canine-themed cocktails – think Mutt’s Nuts (Woodford reserve, cinnamon and vanilla infused maple syrup, angostura bitters, lemon and apple juices – £10), Leo the Wonderdog (el Jimador tequila, Château du Breuil calvados, lemon and Vinho Verde wine – £8), Top Dog (Finlandia vodka, fresh strawberry, chambord, lemon, prosecco – £9), and more.
Food like this is often given little thought, both from those producing it and eating it. But not here. The man behind this original menu is Ross Clarke, the group creative development chef hailing from the Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen, so expect a few touches of magic and unusual ingredient combinations.
|Photo Credit (right): @TheGaztronome|
The Asian Dog is a piquant and sharp sausage in a brioche bun – kimchee purée, punchy and vibrant green wasabi mayonnaise, crisped-up seaweed and sesame seeds (£8). The real labour of love on the menu is the fried chicken – it’s quite something. Free-range boned thighs and drumsticks are brined for 12 hours with star anise, rosemary and garlic. Cooked in a sous vide for 6 hours at 58C, they are then chilled, coated in a spicy cornflour mix, and fried. The end result is superbly succulent – expect a chin covered in juice. Served with a charred lemon wedge for a citrus-caramel lift, this should be at the top of your list (£8 / £13).
Mince from aged bavette and beef fat makes up the Burger Dog. Furnished with ‘beer cheese’ (fermented overnight with Marmite), shreds of lettuce, mustard and ketchup, it imparted a flavour of a spruced-up McDonald’s Big Mac – I liked it (£8.50).
The sides put in a sterling effort fighting the mains for the spotlight. Triple cooked fries were impossible to leave alone (£3); bakes beans were boozed-up with bourbon and include marshmallows for their gelatinous, thicker-sauce quality (£4); and the mac and cheese sported a crunchy breadcrumb topping with an oozing, cheesy, carbed mass beneath (£4). The padron peppers were a little too charred (I’d say burnt – £4), but the jar of grilled pickles billowed out the smoke they were flavoured with, playful and engaging for all the senses (£2.50).
|Photo Credit (top row): @TheGaztronome|
Dessert came in the form of an intense dark chocolate cookie so gooey it was on the verge of changing physical state. A very pleasing neutral milk ice cream (a bit like kulfi) accompanied it; served in a glass with a straw to look like milk, my failed attempt at sucking a solid through it was a good indication of my level of inebriation by this point (£5).
Dirty Bones’ take on the ‘petit four’ from that evening’s tasting menu is a dessert in its own right and a good, if not calorific, way to round off a meal. Should you find the room, try the 101 Dalmations cocktail – Bailey’s chocolate, Finlandia vodka, Disaronno, cream, chocolate chip ice cream (£9). Served with a defibrillator (or should be).
A duo with an electric keyboard crooned some classics from the corner (think Mary Mary – “take the shackles off my feet so I can dance” – Shola Ama, Luther Vandross, Amy Winehouse) whilst we contemplated stealing the microphone and serenading the room between their breaks. Dirty Bones is the sort of place for a group of mates to take over the corner of and settle down for the evening with cocktails, raucous laughter, great bites, and a bit of sit-down-dancing. I challenge you to go and not have a great night.
Liked lots: all dogs available in pork, beef, veggie and naked; live music; retro-cool interiors designed by Lee Broom; red neon signage; staff who dance along to the music with you; the freakin’ chicken
Liked less: I always take my own pictures but the incredibly low-lighting meant most came out awful – thanks to The Gaztronome for his professional shots; the padron peppers were burnt
Good for: a rollicking night out with your mates
NB I was invited as a guest to this event.