PIMPED UP FOOD PART 2:
STORY BY SUSAN MEGGITT
PHOTOGRAPHY SUPPLIED BY BUBBLEDOGS
Finding further evidence for the latest food trend where banal favourites such as jelly are pimping up to crack the big time, get noticed and shake up the food hierarchy, hotdogs are choosing the well trodden strategy of sleeping their way to the top. Here in London, good old footy snags with a reputation for being made of reconstituted pig fat are going handmade gourmet and thriving on the benefits of an A-list friendship by hooking up with the likes of elite French champagne. Oh la la!
Uber-cool Bubbledogs, a couple of doors down from Saatchi and Saatchi in the heart of London adland, W1 is the brain child of James Knappett (ex-Noma) and Sandia Chang. Their 80:20 top notch, meat:fat, sausages are a creation of Jamie Oliver’s meat man Graham Waddington, AKA King of Charcuterie, known for pouring his heart and soul into every saucisson (I’m assuming not literally in this case…).
A sign says “opens at 17.30”, so at 17.32, possibly a bit too aggressively, with an already hefty queue behind me, I bang on the door and am welcomed by a cheery American accent, who I assume was hired because hotdog is a gene in her DNA. The room is lit well to be sexy dark and is filled with wooden high-stooled benches (think old pub) while the bar itself is made of 100% copper, which gives a sumptuous glamorous feel. It very quickly fills up with beautiful people and I find myself in a living Madmen cliché as I share my bench with two twenty-something gals lamenting man issues and ad campaigns.
I peruse the menu and choose between a Horny Dog (cornbread and corn), a Naked Dawg (just the dog), New Yorker (with onions and/or sauerkraut), a Buffalo (blue cheese and celery) or a Sloppy Joe (beef chilli, cheese and onion) amongst others. I go Sloppy Joe as this is apparently the most popular, but I decide to test just how far our lowly hotdog has traded up. “Do you have gluten free?” Of course they do and 10 minutes later, my gluten free Sloppy Joe arrives in an authentic plastic red basket, along with my champagne in an authentic champagne glass and I go for it. Beef chilli immediately gloops between my fingers, oozes down my chin and plops on my lap. Thank goodness for paper serviettes, wearing black and not being here in a romantic (or professional) scenario. I take a sip of Gaston Chiquet, Selection Cuvee, Brut and find that while the chilli and the dog is absolutely delicious, the bready beefy onion-ness has totally dominated my palette, deeming the delicate bubbles of francais cuvee, a cooling frothiness. Looking around the bar, I realise the benefit is not all in the favour of the hotdog, expensive, smaller house French champagne must be gaining street creds, which is surely a good thing.
While the idea of a hotdog moving up a notch or twenty appeals to my Australian roots and socialist bend, and the juxtaposition itself catches my imagination, I can’t help but feel that this particular friendship is more a summer fling than the genuine forever kind of love of cheese and wine, pie and beer. But then – I might be wrong. In the words of comedian Peter Kay – “Garlic? Bread? Garlic bread?”
Whether it’s pimped up or very well connected, ‘ordinary’ food, previously relegated to football grounds is having a heyday. And who cares if it lasts – it’s fun. Burger and Lobster is another hot spot in London pairing Z and A list and with queues around the block (you also can’t book), it surely proves that banal food, whether it’s jelly going bling or hotdogs sleeping their way to the top, can move up in the world no matter its lowly blood line. I wonder what’s next. Kebab and Courvoisier? Architectural mash?