Unprecedented excitement among the capital’s gastronauts and beyond has been sparked by the combination of champagne and hotdogs by former Ledbury Chef James Knappett and his genius wine-list-compiling wife Sania Chang who has sourced an exciting list of grower champagnes.
There’s quite a few hot dog topping options, all available in pork, beef or vegetarian. We were tempted by one that was deep fried, and also the dog wrapped in bacon with cheese and bbq sauce but eventually both plumped for the Sloppy Joe – a moreish concoction of hotdog, chilli and cheese. For sides, special mention has to go to the potato ‘tots’, genius little potato rosti things that reminded me of the very best of school dinners (in a good way). We also had some coleslaw that I really enjoyed even though I don’t actually like coleslaw. Worth mentioning that without the healthy portion of tots (and half of Anna’s) I would have been hungry after the dog, so bigger appetites may want to contemplate having two. The food comes super fast.
The champagne list is really exciting and if I’d been with a fellow drinker I think we could have demolished a delicious bottle quite easily. The by-the-glass list is more limited but not extortionate (I paid 10.50 for a really fantastic glass of some rose champagne and that was one of the priciest options).
There’s no denying the hype combined with the unusual concept has created a buzz, and even the retro understated neon signage outside has something really appealing about it. The inside is cosy and really nicely done, although be prepared to sit on a tall stool in breakfast bar style as proper seating is more limited. They do take bags and coats away in a cloakroom style which is a nice touch and helps with the smallness of the space. The downside is obviously actually getting in to the place. The previous system of taking a name and allowing you to wait for your summons elsewhere has now been replaced with a strict queuing system where at least one person has remain in place until you get in. People queue before the 5.30 opening time, so even if you arrive at 5.30 on the dot on a weekday expect a 25 minute wait for the first keen beans to start finishing up. When we left at 7.30ish, the queue was over 30 people, and it was raining.
Credit to them, despite the mad queuing people, they never once hassle you or make you feel rushed – there’s clearly some Ledbury style service levels sneaking in. For somewhere that I had such high expectations for, I really wasn’t disappointed. While it might be a ‘novelty’ there is something indescribably naughty about combining a greasy hot dog with fancy champagne and I loved it.
Go there if…
You’re a champagne fan, are looking for something a little bit different for a girly catch up, finish work at 5 or love this new breed of fun-and-a-bit-faddy pop-ups as much as I do.
Don’t go there if
You hate queuing, think fizz is a bit poncy, or will resent spending £7.50 on a hotdog.
If you’re pretending to have been there don’t forget to mention…
There’s also a little cocktail bar at one end for those who don’t do sparkles and apparently you can book for tables of more than six, which is worth knowing.
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