Saturday, 1 August 2015

London Life: Top Dog, Soho

I like burgers as much as the next person. Actually, I probably like burgers a lot more than the next person; I’d say I’m a bit of a connoisseur. I turn my nose up at a lot of popular burger places and definitely have my favourite haunts (Honest, Patty & Bun, Chosen Bun and Five Guys, since you asked). But there comes a point where even a certified burger fiend needs something a little different. I mean, it’s been three years since Meat Liquor graduated from burger van to an actual restaurant behind Oxford Street, opening the door for hundreds of new burger joints to spring up across the capital to satiate London’s desire for fancy burgers. Surely we’re at the saturation point for ground beef slapped between two buns?!
Gourmet hotdogs have been bubbling away under the surface for a while, with Bubbledogs being the most buzzed about hotdog place since it opened in 2013. Sure, champagne and hotdogs sounds like a fun idea but to be quite frank (pun intended), I’ve only ever been disappointed in the weeny, shrivelled-looking hotdogs. They just weren’t tasty or satisfying. But they were onto something; hotdogs are due a haute cuisine revival. Enter Top Dog. The brainchild of Matt Hermer (the man behind Boujis), his wife Melissa and uber-foodie Ewan Venters (CEO of Fortnum & Mason, Top Dog is pretty much destined for success.
For me, the beauty of Top Dog is that it’s actually a responsible foodie haven. Both the pork and beef dogs are from UK Freedom Food-awarded farms where the farmers are devoted to animal welfare while the vegan dogs are made from organic tofu. The buns are baked in a 23-year old Artisan bakery in London with flour from Essex and free-range eggs. Naturally, there are gluten-free buns available and even romaine lettuce if you’re on a real health kick.

 So far so saintly, right? Top Dog offer nine different types of hotdog, including the Lettuce Dog (beef dog with tomatoes, onion and cheddar in a romaine lettuce bun) and the Corn ‘N’ Guac Dog (tofu dog with corn salsa guacamole, shallots, radish and spicy mayo dressing). I politely sidestepped the healthy options in favour of the BBQ Dog (pork dog, BBQ sauce, caramelised onions and cheddar) and Chicago Dog (beef dog with tomatoes, pickle, onions, pepper, chilli sauce and celery salt), both of which were divine. The dogs are tasty, the buns are soft and the inventive menu merges different flavours beautifully, from the more classic dogs to the more inventive. Top Dog also do some great sides including sweet potato fries but the hotdogs are where it’s at for me.
Located on Frith Street, Top Dog is a very welcome addition to the bustling restaurant scene in Soho. The subtle 50s-inspired interior is cute without being gimmicky and the window seats are perfect for people watching. This is my favourite hotdog joint in London, in fact all other hotdogs pale into insignificance. Everything from the location, d├ęcor, staff and of course the food is spot on. My aim in life is to eat my way through the menu, which is the highest praise for any restaurant.

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