Magazine article The Spectator

Food Dog Stars

Magazine article The Spectator

Food Dog Stars

Article excerpt

Bubbledogs is a restaurant from cinema.

It is violently 1980s, American and flash. The sign Bubbledogs shines neon pink from the window, a twin to Tom Cruise's Cocktails & Dreams sign which twinkled at the end of Cocktail (1988) to say his narrative arc was done. He owned his own cocktail bar, even if drunken Doug the Babycham philosopher - ' I know when the bottle is empty. . . heh-heh-heh' - was dead.

He was saved by a combination of homespun small-business ethics and populist alcoholism.

Here in F itzrovia, where restaurants gather in piles, the menu is only hotdogs and champagne, a food and a drink with such complex meaning and agonised marketing history that they surely belong together. Hotdogs have an awful reputation.

I blame the Odeon for those joyless schlongs of pig, hosed off a corpse and stuck in a bun made of salt and hate; they match the movies they are made to be chewed to. Champagne brings its own burden, class anxiety in a flute, with all those sobbing bubbles.

Bubbledogs looks charming, as dim rooms flushed with neon always do; it feels like Barbie world but slutty.

I t could be anywhere - the Mojave desert or Dartmoor or F inchley, although Soho would be best to my mind, takeout only at 5 a. m. , as the drunks cry and mew, and the dirt is sucked off the streets. The room is long and thin and the tables are breakfast bars with stools, which I suppose works; it adds to the impermanence, the sense of being at the back of a movie, with the ketchup and the mustard and the poisonous popcorn. The brickwork is exposed, the floors are dark wood; this is a Coke bar for people who like sausages and fantasy. Groups sit together, so you prod strangers with pickle and pig and bang elbows. Cartoons of happy dogs line the walls; they are in pencil, so they look like they are flying.

Downstairs, in the loos, they have papered the walls with menus from J. …

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