Kensington High Street is one of my favourite places in the world, but it’s fair to say there’s a serious dearth of trendy bars. Piano Bar and Sopranos are bags of fun but about as trendy as my grandma’s knitted sweaters, while Roof Gardens is only really worth going to at the height of summer, i.e. twice a year and you sure as hell better know a member if you don’t want to queue for 2 hours.
So you can imagine my joy when leaving my pilates class on Kensington Church Street and spotting a cool new burger joint just a few doors up from My Old Dutch. A hot dog stand during the day, Dirty Bones opens up to become a bar/restaurant in the evenings. My friends and I were given a quick tour, oohing and aahing and vowed to return asap. Fast-forward to Saturday, and my friend Kika and I were all dressed up for our first time at Dirty Bones.
Dirty Bones has only just opened so I was expecting a few teething problems, but getting inside was more of a mission than it needed to be. I was expressly told by phone and email that you can only book for parties of 6 or more, but when we turned up at 8:30pm they said this wasn’t true at all and we should have booked in advance. The proposed wait time was an hour but when I casually mentioned I was a blogger they suddenly found space for us 😉
The stairs leading down to the main area is somewhat reminiscent of Tonteria on Sloane Square, you feel like you’re about to enter a den of iniquity.
The bar has that intimate feel, where you feel like you can chuck off your coat and get down to the serious business of drinking which took us no time at all. I played it safe with a Top Dog (Finlandia vodka, fresh strawberry Chambord and lemon, Jaio prosecco) while Kika opted for the more adventurous 101 Dalmations (Baileys chocolate, Finlandia vodka, Disaronno, cream, chocolate chip ice cream). Mine was refreshing and perfectly balanced, while Kika’s was dangerously moreish after just one sip. The drinks menu has some weird and wonderful creations (Mutt’s Nuts, anyone?), making a welcome change from the usual cocktail list of mojitos, espresso martinis, cosmopolitans blah blah blah.
We spent most of the evening exchanging gossip, but I couldn’t help but notice the abundance of good looking men. The crowd was a bit cliquey but I’m sure if we’d stuck around in the bar for longer we would have made some new friends 😉 Soon however, our thoughts turned to hot dogs, and it was time to head to the seated area. I ordered a delicious-sounding Classic Yankee (spring onions, sauerkraut, Frenchies mustard & ketchup) while Kika went for the Brit Dog (Treacle bacon, mature beer cheddar, curried gherkins & English mustard).
But when our plates arrived, my heart sank. The portions were TINY, I mean literally a child’s portion. My 18-month old nephew could have easily polished off my hot dog, it was that small. It tasted pretty yummy but there was not enough dressing and the meat had a weird, plasticky outer texture. Once you bit through that, it was delicious though. I finished my hot dog in about five minutes, and I’m a slow eater! Our triple cooked fries came in the tiniest little pot, the portion should have been at least twice as big. Dessert exceeded my expectations though, I didn’t expect much from a coffee & doughnut but the coffee was actually ice cream & I wolfed the doughnut down in no time.
Dirty Bones is definitely worth a second visit, perhaps for a date night or with a group of close friends. I’m glad Ken High Street finally has a trendy new hang-out, but it’s missing something and here’s the thing. When you go to Tonteria, you know it’s Mexican before you’ve even made it to the bar. When you go to Byron, you know it’s all about hamburgers and milkshakes. When you go to Nando’s, you know it’s all about chicken. But even though Dirty Bones is all about hot dogs, the food was actually a bit disappointing. I can’t see myself coming back here for hot dogs even though it’s supposedly the unique selling point, making this just another cool bar. That’s perfectly fine and who doesn’t love a decent bar, but I think Dirty Bones would be so much stronger if it also made awesome hot dogs.
Last but not least, the loos. Nothing does my head in more than rubbish toilets at a decent establishment (take note, Ruski’s!). Clean, plenty of loo roll and no annoying lady trying to shove lollipops at you. Oh and the coolest hand dryer I’ve seen outside of Switzerland.
Service was good but I suspect our friendly waitress Kris needs a bit more practice. Kika ordered her hot dog with no bacon but it came covered in the stuff, she was also told there were no hot drinks but a cursory look at the menu showed there was coffee and our dessert wasn’t added to the bill (okay I’m not complaining about that!).
Bill for two
Top Dog – £9
101 Dalmations – £9
Classic Yankee – £6.50
Brit Dog – £7.50
Triple Cooked Fries – £3
Coffee & Doughnut – £5
Service (restaurant only): 12.5%
Opening hours: Tues – Sat (12 – 3pm) for hot dog stand & 6 – 12:30pm for the restaurant/bar
Verdict: 3.5 / 5 stars. Definitely worth a return visit for drinks.