Champagne and Hot Dogs on the Menu at London Gourmet Restaurant

Sandia Chang and James Knappett
Sandia Chang and James Knappett plan to open their own London restaurant. Bubbledogs will serve Champagne and hot dogs. Photographer: Paul Winch-Furness for Gerber PR via Bloomberg.

James Knappett, one of the U.K.’s most talented young chefs, is to open his own restaurant in London -- serving Champagne and hot dogs.

Bubbledogs will offer a choice of 10 hot dogs, including the BLT, with bacon, truffle mayo and caramelized lettuce; and the Jose, with guacamole, sour cream, salsa and jalapenos. Diners seeking more sophisticated fare will be seated at a separate kitchen table where Knappett will cook for them.

Knappett, 30, was formerly head chef at Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, and before that worked at Per Se, in New York. He spent two years at Noma, in Copenhagen, which has held the title of World’s Best Restaurant for two years. Most recently, he was with chef Brett Graham at the Ledbury in London. Bubbledogs is scheduled to open on Charlotte Street, Fitzrovia, in June.

“This means everything to me because it’s what you are thinking about from the moment you start as a young chef,” Knappett said today in a telephone interview.

The restaurant will be managed by Knappett’s wife, Sandia Chang, who joins from Roganic and previously worked at Marcus Wareing. She and Knappett were both part of the team at the French Laundry at Harrods last October. Knappett has also worked at Gordon Ramsay and at Rick Stein Seafood Restaurant.

Chang, who was born in Saudi Arabia to Chinese parents and went to high school in Los Angeles, will serve grower Champagnes as well as sparkling wines from around the world, including Gruet, from New Mexico. Prices will probably start at about 6 pounds ($9.52) a glass and the same for a hot dog.

Comfortable Feel

“I’m trying to get people to drink grower Champagnes and I want somewhere that’s accessible, where people feel comfortable, without too much pomp and ceremony,” she said.

She cited as her inspiration Crif Dogs in New York’s East Village, a hot-dog joint with a cocktail lounge reached through a secret door. She also cited Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, a New York restaurant where chef Cesar Ramirez prepares meals for diners seated at a counter around his kitchen.

At the Kitchen Table, Knappett will prepare and serve contemporary European dishes and discuss them with diners. The plan is for three- or five-course lunchtime menus, starting at 25 pounds, and an evening menu costing 50 pounds.

Sample dishes include: Beetroot, fennel and garlic scapes; chicken skin, grilled onion and burrata milk; beef, dead nettle and carrot; and hay, strawberry, malt and sweet cicely. The wine list will consist of 100-150 bins, mainly lesser-known fine wines and small producers.

(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own. This interview was adapted from a longer conversation.)

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