Monday, 15 October 2012

The Kitchen Table at Bubbledogs

Newly opened Bubbledogs has proven to be a raving success, with queues out the door and bookings (large parties only) well into December. It was opened by husband and wife team, James Knappet and Sandia Chang, to celebrate the humble hotdog with the fizz it deserves. 

But unbeknownst to the throngs of people getting their meat and fizz fix, Bubbledogs hides a secret. Behind a heavy curtain, at the back of the dark and buzzy room, lies the second part to the Bubbledogs vision. The Kitchen Table is a chef's table style restaurant, serving a fixed multi-course tasting menu. Each of the nineteen seats is on the front row of the theatre with a perfect view of the kitchen and chefs at work. As a food fanatic I found this idea completely irresistible and so last Saturday we found ourselves pushing past the hotdog queue and into the calm of the kitchen.    

Our seats were perfect to view the stove action
The menu, a list of twelve ingredients, is printed on handmade paper and illustrated by James himself. It changes daily and depends on what is in season and what James finds on his foraging trips. I should also mention the wine list which is short but varied and has a good number of them by the glass - essential for matching the wide variety of dishes that come your way. It goes without saying that the fizz section is top notch and so we started with a glass of  Balfour 2008 Brut Rose from Hush Heath in Kent.

Cod: Crispy Pig skin and smoked cod roe with seaweed
A few snacky starters come our way in the first moments of the performance. Puffed pig skin is used to scoop up the creamy smoked cod roe. I hope this stays on the menu as the opening line because it's excellent.

Chicken: Chicken skin with mascarpone and bacon jam
Pig skin is followed by chicken skin which is used as a kind of cracker for marscapone and bacon jam. The kind of dish you don't want to like but you do. This seems to be a theme of the menu, quality ingredients, well crafted flavour combinations finished with a rich layer of luxury. It  reminded us very much of Thomas Keller's philosophy for his restaurants which makes sense as both James and Sandie worked at Per Se, his place in New York.

Watching the kitchen at work

Scallop: Scallop with cauliflower, black pepper yoghurt and almondine sauce
They have some great crockery at the Kitchen Table, the purple bowl used to plate this scallop dish is as pretty as the purple cauliflower that came in shaved slices over the plump sweet scallop.

Turbot: Turbot with cucumber  and dill salad
I love turbot. No I really, really love turbot. Which is why it pains me to say that James and his team screwed me here. The picture above is of Claire's plate. She got the spacious semi detached end of fillet, whereas I got the compact middle of terrace. Joking aside, this was where the kitchen side seats are a real joy. Watching James cook and plate this turbot was fascinating and eating it was even better.

Mussels: Smoked mussels with grilled leek, pickled samphire and toasted oats
The reason the kitchen table concept works for me is that I could pester James and his crew about the food as we ate it and they were happy to indulge. Here he explained he had pickled the rock samphire in a sugary brine to bring sharp relief to the smoky mussels.

Truffle: Truffle pasta with chickweed
Hand made pasta, truffles, butter. Perfectly executed with a healthy acidity (from lemon or wine?).

Partridge: Partridge with wild mushrooms, parsnip crisps and shaved chestnut
Autumnal almost to the point of cliché. There is a reason that these ingredients all come in season at the same time and it's probably so that dishes like this can be made. The recommendation from our waiter to switch to a glass of  Domaine Schistes Cotes de Roussillon was spot on.

Beef: Beef short rib, with onion, smoked marrow and nasturtium
If you have any doubt about the power of sous vide then you have to taste a slow cooked beef short rib. It's incredibly tender and has the flavour of a well aged steak. The meat is seasoned with smoked marrow and peppery nasturtium. This was dish of the evening for me.

Castelrosso: Castelrosso cheese with damson jam and wild oregano
Another Kellerism with the composed cheese course? It certainly works here. Foraged damson jam would enhance most cheeses and the creamy, salty Castelrosso is no exception.

Fig: Fig with fig carpaccio, fig leaf ice cream, creme fraiche mousse and caremelised white chocolate
A winner of a dessert and the first time Claire has eaten figs and enjoyed them. We loved the refreshing mousse and ice cream with the soft ripe fig.

We missed taking a photo of the Pear cake with liquorice ice cream but Kang has taken one here if you are interested. It was at this point that we ordered a bottle of Pyramid Valley Rose Late Harvest Riesling to go with our desserts.

Blackberry: Blackberry Teacake
Tunnocks teacakes have finally got the respect and revamp they deserve. Crisp biscuity base, jammy blackberry marshmallow and a crisp chocolate shell? I'm in.

I was very impressed with the concept of the Kitchen Table. From the moment I walked through the curtain I couldn't wipe the stupid grin off my face. It's a fascinating look into a modern restaurant kitchen interspersed with commentary from the chefs and waiting staff. The only drawback to this is that it's quite easy to become distracted from conversations with your dining companions, so if you like your meals out to be discreet and personal then this might not be for you. But if you want to see skilled chefs preparing exciting British food then book now because I can see this being the next hot reservation in town.

1 comment:

stainlesssteel kitchen table said...

Everything looks too yummy and delicious!!