Dirty Bones, Kensington

A hidden den serving hot dogs and cocktails sounds very much like an East London venture, Dirty Bones however brings the grime and groove to West London’s elite.

With a few notable characters in the Dirty Bones team including Ross Clarke, of Fat Duck fame, there has been much hype about this Kensington opening. The name has perhaps been detrimental to its initial reputation, liable to be confused with similarly titled outlets – Dirty Burger, Bones in Dalston, Bone Daddies, and Fishbone.

From the American diner style exterior, you are led to believe this is just a retro takeaway joint, indeed during the day that is exactly what it is… but at night the camouflaged door leads down to a bright neon lit, vintage-styled drinks and dogs den. An old pinball machine is the welcoming desk and a scruffy drinks dispenser is a secret door through to a dining area. Cocktails are served in the bar, there is a selection of creative long and short drinks. I particularly enjoyed the Mutt’s Nuts: a smoky warming combination of Woodford Reserve and vanilla infused maple syrup, lemon and apple juice. For a pre-dinner tipple, the sugary sweet Big Apple is a caramelised treat.

There is a limited selection of fast food: dogs, bones, sides and salads. Dogs are available in different meats with the choice of pork, beef or veggie sausage. We tried the Mexican with a pork sausage, it comes with pulled pork, cactus salsa, lime sour cream and guacamole. It was a nice balance of soft brioche style bun and meaty, spicy filling. The crispy, spiced fried chicken is a must-try, tender chicken thighs and wings coated in an addictive crunchy coating and spritzed with charred lemon. Fries were a massive disappointment however – a tiny portion of limp supermarket-type chips, but glazed sweetcorn is a tasty alternative.

You’ll want to steal the playlist from the sound system, it comes from miracle music man Rob Wood of Music Concierge. It is a carefully curated soundtrack which adds to the character of the place and will make you want to dance whether you’re sitting or standing.

In the first weeks of service a few discrepancies can be forgiven, though Dirty Bones did try my patience. We waited for over an hour for a table, and nearly another for the food and then got asked to move to a neighbouring table. The embarrassed waiter apologised profusely and offered complimentary cocktails, but the hanging around was a tad tiresome.

Big groups can book at Dirty Bones, which I would definitely recommend. The venue is thoughtfully designed and the vibe is painfully trendy; better still, the food and drinks are tasty and reasonably priced. The grungy retro look definitely encourages a cool crowd and I feel blessed that my side of town finally has a desirable dive.

More information here: dirty-bones.com

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