Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Kitchen Table: Bubbledogs&

An unplanned solo visit to KT @ Bubbledogs& last week gave me one of the most enjoyable meals in many years. A 6.30 start time and I walked through the already heavy queue waiting for their meaty oblongs-delights to the dismayed cry of "Why do people keep walking straight in?!"

KT has had some great press recently and the concept and the owner husband and wife team are well documented. What they are trying to achieve isn't a gimmick or even food theatre to some degree: it is a sense of collective enjoyment that both the chef and the customer receive through serving some of the highest quality food in London while feeling inherently connected with the whole process. Service was sharp and fluid, and high levels of engagement with James and genuine warmth of the staff were striking. Let me be clear, KT is not a Wolfgang Puck or Marcus Wareing meal; its a place to watch someone do what they love, and despite some initial (misplaced) nerves after opening, the venue has grown hugely in all areas.

James' expertise is in powerfully flavoured dishes and allowing the simplicity of ingredients to do the work. He also has a dizzying array of natural herbs. The only option at KT is a 12 course tasting menu, each dish focusing on one major ingredient which changes almost weekly, reflecting both the chef's wide imagination and obsession with near-perfect quality ingredients. James would come over and explain each dish and was more than happy to discuss provenance and his thoughts behind each dish.
The Kitchen.
The menu

Celeriac crisp with salmon puree, smoked skin and seaweed powder. A light waft of aniseed, smooth smokey salmon flavours and then a huge umami sucker-punch of flavour from the seaweed and skin. Snacktastic.


Roasted and blistered chicken skin, spread with mascapone and topped with bacon jam. Well knock me down and call me Ethel. I'm a child at heart and still love simple things and bacon is definitely one of them. The jam was so intensely full of sweet bacon-y flavour I had to close my eyes for a second to appreciate what was happening to me. The crunchy skin gave a pleasant greasy kick and the cheese smoothed the finish.

Scottish scallops served simply with black pepper cream. Very high quality scallop, run close  by the one I had at the Westbury a few days later. A more simple plate though and none the worse for it. A delicious, well-balanced dish.

The King of the Sea: simply roasted and served with grilled sour cucumber, poached oyster, cucumber and dill salad. Personally I'm not always a huge fan of sweet and sour on the same plate and I was a little confused by the flavours to start. By the end the delicate balance had shone through and I was spooning ever last bit of sauce. Turbot was perfectly cooked and in hindsight I realise how good this really was.

Poached claw with smoked mussels, butter sauce with mussel juice, samphire and other herbs, topped with oats. Very rich dish and the sauce could have used a little more acidity for balance. Originally I thought there were too many herby flavours dominating the dish, but again this actually worked very well with the smokey mussels and helped with the richness. Once again plates were left spotless with a 'I want another mouthful' mentality.

Simple tagliatelle with a light truffle sauce and generous shaved truffle over the top. Pasta was super thin (way better than my attempt on the weekend) and cooked al dente. Not much to say other than like a great mac'n'cheese, it was simple and very comforting. It also allowed for a smooth interchange between fish and the meat. Clever James.

Duck hearts, girolles, cauliflower mushrooms, celery flowers and elderberries.
Was very excited to see hearts on the plate. Cooked perfectly leaving that wonderful bite that heart has while still deliciously tender. Hugely powerfully meaty flavours, boosted by the umami from the mushrooms (duck and girolles, can you go wrong?). Lip smackingly good and one of the best meat dishes I've had this year.

Another strong seemingly effortless dish. The jus was perfectly reduced and punchy, the addition of raw chestnuts instead of roasted, gave a cleaner 'forest-floor' taste. The meat was cooked absolutely perfectly and beautifully moist. A genuine joy to eat, the only issue was that for me the onions were a little too sour and I left some behind.

Burrata with damson jam and oil.
At this point I was getting a bit over excited and forgot to take a photo. The burrata from Puglia was allowed to warm to room temperature a good while before plating. Cut into quarters and plated delicately by Kim (who was on her first day, awesome job). The damson jam gave the creamy silky texture a sweet slightly gooey finish.
Burrata plating.
Roasted fig with carpacio of fig, white chocolate. A top-quality desert. The chocolate balance with the honey and the fig was high quality (a certain Syrian girl I know would say that no figs compare to Syrian figs though).

Pear sponge with aniseed ice cream. The sponge was a contradiction: so light and airy but full of flavour and with a one of the most addictive crusts. I was nervous to hear aniseed but it was very mild, another great balancing act. Sold to us as a 'humble dish'. Humble it may be, but nothing wrong with that.

Little chocolate hat with blackberry marshmallow interior with crisp biscuit bottom. Tasted like a superior teacake, light and airy with strong sugary flavour. Apologies, I was chatting to James, got hungry and popped it in my mouth before taking a picture.

Slosh: White - delicious medium-bodied little number.
Red - Big bold punchy flavours.
Desert wine (red) which was really rather scrummy.

Where: 70 Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, London W1T 4QG, in the back. Nearest Tube: Goodge Street

How much: 12 course tasting menu plus drinks £100. This really is one of the best value for money tasting menus in London currently.

Food: 9/10
Service: 10/10
Slosh: 9/10
Value: 9/10

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