Specialising in cocktails, hot dogs and on-the-bone meat, Dirty Bones is a two minute walk from High Street Kensington underground station and is by far the best eatery in the area (in my humble opinion).
With Ross Clarke as Creative Development Chef (formerly of Heston’s The Fat Duck Experimental Kitchen) and clearly backed by some fairly hefty investors, this underground space brings New York to Kensington with a well-funded and well-executed bang.
Enter down the neon-lit stairwell, and you’ll find yourself at a maitre d’s desk fashioned from a vintage pinball machine. You are now in the cocktail lounge, with a long sink-into-me leather sofa down one wall, and lots of mismatched designer pendant lights hanging overhead. At this point you might also notice the music – a playlist of eighties remixes and funk that perfectly suits the setting.
I arrived first (as per usual with my tardy friends!), so ordered a Mutt’s Nuts cocktail (bourbon, cinnamon & vanilla infused maple syrup, lemon & apple – £10) – Old Fashioned in theme, it was bang on the mark. Becky soon appeared, and was happy to combine her two favourites (gin + cider) in The Littlest Hobo (Bombay Sapphire, passion fruit syrup, Wyld Wood cider – £7.50). We caught up in the cocktail lounge for half an hour, before taking up our table for Barbut’s arrival.
The restaurant has a slightly different décor theme to the bar, but still features lots of the same sculptural hanging lamps, and plenty of Mid-Century Modern style furniture and knick knacks.
My favourite features were the Lee Broom crystal bulbs – similar to the decanter lights that he is so famed for, I really want some of these bulbs in my new house (it’s just the £189 price tag that’s putting me off…)
From our table we spotted the origin of the excellent playlists: a DJ in a booth at one end of the restaurant, churning out hit after hit. Boy done good.
The food menu is concise but effective. Six choices of hot dog, each of which can be served with a pork, beef or veggie sausage. There are also chicken drumsticks and ribs, and a great list of sides: triple-cooked fries, mac & cheese, dirty fries, sweetcorn and salads.
We ordered some sticky pork ribs to share, two Frenchie dogs (with celeriac remoulade, roast garlic purée and crispy shallots – £7.50) and the special Dirty Dog (“The dirtiest dog of them all” with crispy bacon, jalapeño cheese, crispy onions, house-made BBQ sauce with marshmallows and bourbon – £10). On the side we went for triple-cooked fries and mac & cheese. More cocktails were also ordered – a Deputy Dog (with tequila and Ting), a Down Boy! (with Somerset cider brandy and ginger) and a Negroni (Aperol, Lillet Rouge & Bombay Sapphire and limonata).
The ribs arrived, slathered in the house BBQ sauce (possibly a bit too much sauce for my liking, as it tasted quite sweet); but the meat was fantastic and plentiful, and just fell off the bone.
The hot dogs were simply served on silver platters. They’re not huge, but the toppings were generous – making them far too messy to eat with your hands as they are intended. The fries were nice, though not sure what difference the three rounds of cooking made? The mac & cheese was more-ish (but nothing on Spuntino‘s version).
The dessert menu is also short – you can basically have coffee & doughnut, or milk & cookies. We went for the latter, with three spoons. The cookie was soft and brownie-like, and the “milk” was actually milk gelato – very yummy.
Loved the interior, music, atmosphere, drinks and food. The bathrooms were nicely done too (always important!).
Service was slow, particularly since the restaurant wasn’t very busy.
The bill came to £83 for three people (3 cocktails [since our first round was very kindly given to us on the house – thanks!], 1 starter, 3 dogs, 3 sides, 1 dessert, + service) which was pretty reasonable.
I liked it a lot. I will definitely go back.
What’s behind that door masquerading as a coffee vending machine?
A private dining room, also beautifully decorated, with space for 30 diners. You can book it out for a minimum spend of £1500.
20 Kensington Church Street, W8 4EP
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book