Dirty Bones, High Street Kensington
If you happen to be venturing to West London, be sure to make a stop at High Street Kensington. Located in the heart of W2, the area offers a much quieter and relaxed shopping scene with all of the shops that you would usually go to Oxford Street for. Trendy boutiques such as Jaeger, River Island, Oliver Bonas, Karen Millen, Zara Home, are just some of the gems dotted along the high street. For the health-conscious shoppers out there, there is also a big Whole Foods Market for your organic green juice fix. In addition, the street's unique architecture, reminiscent of the Art Deco movement, is sure to take your breath away. It very fittingly reflects the elegance and glamour of the more upmarket shopping scene within this distinguished borough of Kensington and Chelsea.
Located off the high street at 20 Kensington Church Street is an underground retro paradise dedicated to pure, shameless indulgence. Leave behind the elegance of the art deco inspired high street and enter steps saturated with crimson hues from the glaring bulbs of neon lights and the crescendo of blues beats coming from below.
With another branch having recently opened on the third floor of the very trendy Kingly Court within Carnaby Street, Dirty Bones has started to develop a reputation amongst London’s coolest foodies as the perfect place for a hangover cure brunch. It's been welcomed into London’s growing American food scene and this unique restaurant and cocktail bar stands out through its playfully themed tribute to the awesome style of ‘Old-Skool’ American funk.
The Brunch menu here is fairly simplistic in variety, sticking to the all-time American favourites: hotdogs, burgers, toasties, fries, lots of eggs and of course, fried chicken. We started off the brunch with cocktails that constitute the special ‘Boozy Brunch Flight’ offer. This includes up to 4 cocktails, with a choice of the Dirty Mary, Lexy Cocktail or glasses of Prosecco for £19 per person.
The Dirty Mary Cocktail - Finlandia vodka, tomato, orange, lemon & pickle juice. fresh mint, chilli sauce & a sour cream pringle rim
This is the famous ‘Dirty Mary’. Its deep papaya colour and slightly salted Pringle rim made a beautiful presentation but be warned - this baby is fiery hot from the Tabasco and sadly quite difficult to finish.
The Lexy Cocktail- Finlandia vodka, Prosecco, Amaretto Luxardo, lemon juice, strawberry puree, gomme syrup
The 'Lexy Cocktail' on the other hand, turned out to be a fantastic accompaniment to the food. Despite Tabasco being known as the key ingredient for a hangover cure cocktail, it seemed that a mixture of strawberry puree, prosecco, amaretto, vodka and lemon was exactly what we needed. It wasn’t too sweet, the taste of the vodka was not overpowering either but very fragant. The small flower on top was a lovely touch.
(BACK LEFT) YOU CHICKEN COCKTAIL? - BACARDI GOLD RUM, FRESH MINT & CUCUMBER, APPLE JUICE, GINGER BEER, CHILLI SALT RIM
(FRONT LEFT) LAVENDER MARTINI - BOMBAY SAPPHIRE GIN, LAVENDER & GOMME SYRUP, EGG WHITE, LEMON JUICE
Dirty Bones offers a wide range of cocktails that are categorised by Dirty Shakes (milkshakes with shots of bourbon, yes please!), Dirty Drinks, Specials, Shooters and Old Dogs. If you’re not in the mood for a cocktail, they also have wine, champagne, beer and cider, and try to tailor their drinks to suit a wide range of tastes, using the finest quality ingredients. We also tried two other cocktails at the bar before our meal. These were the 'You Chicken?' and 'Lavender Martini' (both left). My guest and I favoured the 'You Chicken?'.
The ‘You Chicken’ didn’t last long; it was recommended for its refreshing cucumber taste, and I never knew ginger beer, apple juice and gold rum could go so well together. The Lavender Martini was nice but we couldn’t taste a lot of lavender and was less memorable than the 'You Chicken?'. Nevertheless, it was still very fresh and I loved the combination of Bombay Sapphire gin and gomme syrup.
THE DIRTY BONES BRUNCH - classic yankee hotdog, breakfast fries, mac & cheese, chicken & waffles
Open the floodgates to one of the most gluttonous meals I've ever devoured. I don't regret one mouthful. I'll take you through it dish by dish:
CHICKEN & WAFFLES - ½ PILE OF CRISPY FRIED CHICKEN WITH FRESHLY BAKED WAFFLES & A SHOT OF MAPLE SYRUP
This is a dish that I'm sure is a favourite amongst diners. Fried chicken is becoming a food trend in London with other restaurants like BIRD showcasing some of the crispiest golden Southern American trophies. At Dirty Bones, the chicken is brined for 6 hours and then cooked sous vide for 6 hours. This produced a really soft and succulent inside, and crispy but not dry coating. The maple syrup clung to the skin better for this reason and was absolutely delicious. The waffles were soft, fluffy, warm, slightly sweet and were an excellent ally to the chicken. This dish features a match made in heaven destined to last forever, through thick and 'skin'.
THE CLASSIC YANKEE - SAUERKRAUT, SPRING ONION, FRENCH'S MUSTARD & TOMATO KETCHUP
What a monster of a hotdog. This was quite a beast to eat. I'll start by speaking about the pork sausage itself. It was tasty but quite dry, and then paired with the bread that was soft but also quite dry it was quite difficult to eat. I think some more moisture was needed here (oh behave!). The hotdog kept toppling over as well as the sausage that wasn't able to fit very well into the bread. I loved the authentic use of Sauerkraut and mustard though which tasted great with the pork sausage. You can choose to have pork, beef or vegetarian sausage which I thought was a good choice to offer. The bread, a major component needs to be soft and slightly fluffy in the first place; maybe this would have helped the classic yankee a bit as it was quite dry and the edges were slightly toasted. Overall it was still very yummy!
SIDES - BREAKFAST FRIES - CLASSIC FRENCH FRIES SERVED WITH DIRTY BONES SMOKED KETCHUP, TOPPED WITH TWO FREE RANGE EGGS
Now, I've never been a massive fan of chips (shock horror, yes) but I devoured this, so Dirty Bones must be doing something right. The chips were really fresh, not like those half frozen tragedies that you sometimes get in restaurants. They were beautifully crispy on the outside and soft on the inside and the smoked ketchup with them was perfect. As this is a side dish, I was very impressed by the large quantity provided. This is enough for an entire meal. The eggs were cooked perfectly and I very much enjoyed eating the yolk with the chips. It was total comfort food heaven. That moment when the fork presses and crunches into the freshly cooked chips... so simple, yet so brilliant.
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THE MAC & CHEESE - FRESH MACARONI PASTA, STRINGY CHEDDAR AND CREAM CHEESE SAUCE, WITH DIRTY BONES SECRET SPICE MIX TOPPED WITH BUTTER TOASTED PANKO BREAD CRUMB
My food dreams came true the day an entire plate of Mac & Cheese made with fresh macaroni pasta was placed in front of me. As a side, this was definitely a main course portion, so firstly I'll note the brilliance of this dish for its sharing abilities. Other winning features included the freshness of the macaroni, the slightly crispy top where the panko breadcrumbs had cooked, and the soft middle when you tucked in to the centre of the plate with your fork. The Mac & Cheese had a beautiful texture; not the sometimes disappointing powdery texture you can find, or overly creamy to the detriment of any taste of cheese. It was perfectly seasoned too, not too salty and the sauce inside was not gloopy. (There's nothing worse than some gloopy, dodgy looking white sauce with macaroni). This Mac & Cheese is going to be hard to beat chaps.
All in all, this was a very shameless brunch filled with carbs, cheese and chips. We weren't complaining though, and if you're coming here for a hangover cure this is the perfect remedy.
MILK & FROSTIES - SWEET MILK PANNA COTTA SERVED WITH FROSTIES
My guest and I were really keen to try these. The surrealistic concept of having something like panna cotta and Frosties served in a restaurant reminded me of the 'Cereal Killer Cafe' in Shoreditch. The panna cotta was really delectable and actually went really well with the Frosties cereal. Again, it was quite a hefty portion but I guess if you have a main without a side it could be 'doable' to eat the entire bowl. I quite like how the portion sizes tie in with the American theme; I'd probably feel quite cheated if somewhere boasted American food with small portion sizes. The only thing I'll mention again is the dryness. It needed something like a syrup or a jam to take away from the dryness of the cereal and thickness of the panna cotta. It was quirky though and I liked this creation very much. We need more unique food ideas in London.
BANANA TOBLERONE-TELLA WAFFLES
The name of this dish suggests that it couldn't possibly be anything other than 'foodgasmic'. Unfortunately, we were a bit disappointed by this wonderfully presented masterpiece. The disappointment derived predominantly from the excess of flavours going on in this dessert and combined to give a strange taste. The waffles, the same as those in the Chicken & Waffles main dish, were superb. The bananas that were caramelised and placed on top of the waffles, had a slightly bitter taste, as if perhaps not yet ripe enough. Then there was the ice cream that was coated with peanuts; but the peanuts along with all of the sauces (there seemed to be a red berry sauce there too!) gave a very strange overall flavour. I think stripping this dessert down to the fantastic waffles, sliced sweet and soft banana, salted caramel or vanilla ice cream sprinkled with Toblerone, with a pot of some melted chocolate to pour may be a safer bet and would still have that amazing presentation that Dirty Bones are getting here. In addition, I was mourning the absence of some stacked pancakes on the menu: dripping in maple syrup, with blueberries and bacon, pancakes (much like those that I made back in February that you can see here) would be a fantastic and fitting addition to Dirty Bones' brunch offering.
The staff were really friendly and accommodating and the ambiance was relaxed, although I feel that the music playlist could have featured more Old-skool American music, fitting in with their 'High-fives and good vibez' theme. I particularly loved the interior, designed by award winning British Designer, Lee Broom and which pleasantly reminded me of Le Comptoir Géneral in Paris's Canal St. Martin.
Overall, I definitely feel that this is one of London's best brunch gems. Their regular menu is just as fun and focused on the best of indulgent eating, created to be enjoyed amongst family and friends, and notably a good choice for special occasions too. My first visit to Dirty Bones was in their Kingly Court, Carnaby branch for the first of my 'Fabulous Foodies Eat London' events, pictured below. Each restaurant definitely has its own unique atmosphere: if you're looking for a more lively, bright, exuberant, jiving experience, I would recommend the Carnaby branch. Dirty Bones in High Street Kensington offers a much more intimate, blues bar feel that is more conducive to special occasions, dates or cocktails.