Dirty Bones appears to be yet another ‘Deep South’ American venue which has sprung up in London. However, unlike many of its brethren, this one isn’t located in deepest darkest ‘Hipster-ville’. Instead, it occupies a discrete little spot in amongst the estate agents and boutiques of Kensington. So can ‘Dirty Bones’ bring a love of everything smoked and meaty to the well heeled residents of West London?
Dirty Bones is unashamedly targeting the trend for good’ol American food which has been sweeping across London for the past year or so.
It seems to operate as a double venue. One of the smallest kiosks I’ve seen dispenses hot-dogs during the day at street level. At night a suitably dark basement area opens serving cocktails, ribs, chicken, steak and all the good stuff that the stereotypical American Southerners like… if you watch the movies anyway.
Unlike ‘The Lockhart’, who has a hardcore ‘good ol’ USA Southern Chef, Bradford McDonald, the head chef is the very un-American Ross Clarke. Unexpectedly for a ‘down and dirty Southern meat shack’ [to be pronounced in deepest ‘Sheriff J.W. Pepper’ accent for all you James Bond fans] this chef is formally of Heston Blumenthal’s Three Michelin Star ‘Fat Duck’ and is known to have worked on many of the dishes seen on Heston’s TV shows and books.
As expected the menu looks full-on southern… the menu is split into three main sections. Dogs, Bones and Sides. Like watching a clip of the 80’s TV Show, ‘Dukes of Hazard’ the menu screams of the American South like a Confederate flag. However, examine the menu more closely and you will see six different hot dogs all between £6.50 and £8.50 with a surprisingly international twist. There is a ‘Brit Dog featuring ‘mature beer cheddar’, a ‘Frenchie’ Dog with ‘celeriac remoulade’ and ‘roast garlic purée’ and an ‘Asian Dog’ with kimchi purée’ and ‘wasabi mayonnaise’
You don’t have to look far to see evidence of a Heston influenced chef. The ‘Grilled & Smoked Pickles’ are mercilessly choked with the full force of a Polyscience gun before their gasping remnants are presented in a sealed smoke rammed jar. If you love the taste of heavily smoked whisky or salmon this is the winning side order. Although I didn’t check, I do hope that it’s available as a bar snack.
The cocktail menu is surprisingly long and the beer menu surprisingly short for this type of venue, that is until you see the sizeable space dedicated for drinking, including a private room hidden behind a jukebox. Unlike other venues, (e.g. like fried chicken specialists, Wishbone in Brixton) there is a reasonable offering of 15 wines. The bottle of Dom Perignon 2004 for £200 a bottle is an expected nod to the affluence of their location and hence the clientele they expect to attract.
Dirty Bones is quite an unusual venue. It tries extremely hard to show an exterior of southern cooking with decor to match. However, if you scratch the surface and you can see that the offering is skewed with a definite nod towards the local Kensington residents and a little to the after work office crowd. However, they have managed to balance it quite well. Unlike venues like “Tonteria Express” in Sloane Square who sell cocktails well over a £100 (admittedly for sharing), Dirty Bones has been rather more elegant in their approach.
The kitchen is very ‘Americana’ in feel but skewed by a the touch of a chef who has worked with Heston and is pleasantly a lot more experimental than expected… not a bad move if the excellent smoked pickles are any indication kitchen’s skill level.
Personally I liked the food on offer however I would love to know what the ‘born and bread below the “Mason-Dixon” line’ Americans think of the dishes too. If you’re one of them please leave a comment!
NOTE: Many thanks to Dirty Bones and their PR agency for their invitation and hospitality.