By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Carnaby Street’s relatively secretive Kingly Court has all of a sudden turned into a very popular spot for new restaurant openings, within the past three months. What with recent openings of a new Dishoom, Shotgun from The Lockhart’s Brad McDonald, and the second opening of Dirty Bones. First opened in Kensington, the main focus at Dirty Bones is aimed towards quintessentially American comfort food. This focus has been carried on with the Carnaby opening, unsurprisingly, with an especially extensive cocktail list. Inside, the space is cosy, perched upon Kingly Court’s top floor. On the far wall an impressive bar is lined with just about every spirit that one can imagine, while an open kitchen provides platefuls of comforting food.
What’s most prevalent about the new Dirty Bones, however, is the weekend lunch menu. As expected the menu possesses a number of burgers, ‘dogs’, and even sweet treats. There’s also an offer of unlimited Prosecco for £15, which is delivers very good value. It’s the restaurant’s own take on a Bloody Mary (‘Dirty Mary’), nonetheless, that takes my fancy: the ultimate morning-after cure all. As well as combining vodka, tomato juice, Worcester sauce and Tabasco – as is proper – there is also an opinion-dividing crumb of sour cream flavoured Pringles that coats the rim of the glass. My companion isn’t overly enthralled, though I’m somehow drawn to the bar’s use of completely unnecessary saturated fats. A butter-washed bourbon that’s prepared similarly to a classic Old Fashioned is also a notable highlight of the drinks menu – albeit succinctly bitter and better suited as a digestif.
Classic American chicken and waffles with a shot glass of warm maple syrup is the best meat and waffle combination that I’ve eaten in a very long time, especially superior to the last poultry and waffle dish so acclaimed that it lends the name to one of the city’s most prevalent restaurants. At Dirty Bones, however, there isn’t a single note of pretention: the cloud-like waffle is cooked well and tastes of buttermilk. the meat isn’t too rich or over complicated, and there’s no unwelcome accompaniments to spoil a perfectly good combination. My companion’s slow ‘n low toastie, on the other hand, is also very good – served as a towering stack of beef, gherkins, mustard and oozing cheese that brings all of the flavours together and adds another touch of sheer indulgence. Desserts, on the other hand, are rather clever in evoking childhood nostalgia with a grown up twist. ‘Frosties and Milk’ isn’t the most expertly executed dish: a variety box of Frosties cereal accompanies a bowl of milk panna cotta. In most cases I’d be unimpressed with finding something that seems so initially uninspired, yet the nostalgic value is deeply comforting. ‘Coffee and Donuts’, works in the same vein and transports me straight back to Brighton Pier in 1999 with its seaside-like donut, while the coffee gelato is discerningly similar in taste to opinion-dividing coffee-flavoured Revels.
The cooking at Dirty Bones’ new opening isn’t exactly the most innovative, accomplished or mind blowing – but it’s practically American-inspired comfort food at its best.
Dirty Bones Carnaby can be found at Kingly Court, Carnaby Street, London, W1B 5PW.