kitchen table at bubbledogs
Of all the new openings last year, the one that impacted me most was Sushi Tetsu (no surprise there), followed very closely by Kitchen Table. “Kitchen where?”, I hear you say. Since its launch, Bubbledogs has had a permanent throng camped outside, yet remarkably the 19-seater tucked behind a velvet curtain at the back of the restaurant has remained relatively unknown. Hot dogs may be what draws the crowds in, but the real jewel of the place is the Kitchen Table where James Knappett (ex-Per Se, Noma and Marcus Wareing) serves guests a refined 12-course tasting menu each evening. And no, none of those courses feature a dog and bun.
It’s a concept completely new to London. Diners, who take one of two sittings, perch on leather swivel chairs dotted around a sleek counter that wraps around the open kitchen, where Knappett and his team cook and plate up. Interaction is encouraged – the chefs describe each dish in detail as it is placed and happily answer any questions. Menu items change often to reflect market freshness and seasonality – on the four occasions I dined at KT there have been very few repeats. Each meal has steadily improved and the dinner below which we had towards the end of last year was truly superb.
Cornwall Shrimp with Dill Oil and Horseradish got things off to a good start – creamy raw shrimp accentuated by the gentle heat of horseradish and mild aniseed notes from the dill. The fresh hit from the horseradish snow awoke our senses in preparation for the meal ahead.
Crispy Chicken Skin slathered with Rosemary Mascarpone and Bacon Jam further whet our appetite with its bold smoky-sweet crunchy goodness.
Line-caught Mackerel with Oyster, Lemon Peel, Cucumber and Sea Purslane was a real pleasure, with great textural balance and flavours that sang of the sea.
Hand Dived Orkney Scallop boasted lovely caramelisation and contrasted well with crisp celeriac and tart apple. The pool of lush lemon verbena sauce rounded it all off nicely.
Lobster Agnolotti (stuffed with coral from the lobster head), Pickled Rock Samphire and Sea Beans was an absolute stunner, with an intense shellfish broth that left me wanting more.
I love the bouncy texture of Duck Hearts, and these offally beauties were offset perfectly by tender turnip, crispy puffed buckwheat, bitter turnip tops, sweet bon bon dates and a subtle acidity from the sherry vinegar sauce.
Venison, Rose Yoghurt, Fresh Pine, Wild Mushrooms and shaved Chestnuts was another well-considered dish, and the quality of the 1 year old roe deer meat really shone.
A cheese course of Goat’s Curd, Toast and Shallots was delicious and reminiscent (on the palate) of shallot tarte tatin.
After a refreshing palate cleanser of rose hip granita and elderflower yoghurt came the first of two desserts – a whole Caramalised Fig with Fig Leaf Ice Cream and Crème Fraîche Mousse.
Warm Apple Cake with Dehydrated Apple and Bay Leaf Ice Cream was gorgeous. The bay leaf is unexpected but works incredibly well in this comforting yet sophisticated pud.
One final sweet treat of Dark Chocolate-coated Blackberry Marshmallow (sort of a luxe teacake) brought the 3 hour meal to a delightful close.
With this dinner we opted for wine pairings, expertly chosen by Sandia (James’ wife and restaurant manager), but have also plumped for whole bottles in the past – the carefully curated list is eclectic and boasts some rare and unusual gems, especially where grower champagnes are concerned.
If you have yet to step behind the curtain, I urge you to book in for what I think is currently one of the most exciting dining experiences in town. The dinner theatre aspect is novel but in no way gimmicky, the cooking spot-on, and the service (from Jack, the head waiter) friendly yet professional and unobtrusive. If nothing else, you’ll get a kick from walking straight to the front of the queue!
Kitchen Table (at Bubbledogs)
70 Charlotte Street
London W1T 4QG
t. 020 7637 7770