Image Credit – Dirty Bones
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
If you find yourself on High Street Kensington tired from shopping, stomach rumbling, patience wearing thin, make your way to Kensington Church street and your salvation awaits. Tucked away behind a bold red neon sign, hinting at your destination, there is a small red door. Pluck up the courage to open it and descend into a glowing red staircase. On reaching the bottom you will find yourself standing in the eclectically furnished bar of Dirty Bones, a London restaurant serving classic American food to a good standard with great ingredients.
The hostess will greet you, smiling and friendly, from behind her pinball machine. Looking around you will notice the plush comfortable seating of the bar, styled like the basement hangout room you always dreamt of. Follow her through to the other side of the room and the restaurant opens up before you. Small, cosy, dimly lit it feels relaxing and comfortable. Your server will bound up to you friendly, if not overly so, enthusiastic and willing. Order yourselves a drink from the small but capable bar menu and sit back to peruse the food on offer.
The menu is small, one of the smallest I have seen and it won’t be to everyone’s taste. Those not keen on fried food, rich meats or gourmet hot dogs will not be at home here. The dishes choose from are dishes straight out of the American playbook. Buttermilk fried chicken, shaved beef rib, chicken wings, hot dogs, everything is familiar. The menu does not attempt to break convention, however its size, coupled with the attention to detail of the decor, suggests that Dirty Bones know their limits, understanding that less is often more.
My order consisted of a series of plates to share with my companion so as to sample as much as possible. Chicken wings followed by buttermilk fried chicken and shaved rib of beef. Unlike buffalo wings, which you find almost everywhere, these are served with a fresh citrus glaze accompanied by salt, pepper and chilli. Clean fresh flavours make an instant impression on your palate. The perfect starter they successfully leave you wanting more, wishing for your main course to arrive. Considering the limited menu the service is not as quick as you may expect, however the waiting time is not uncomfortable, merely an opportunity to sit and reflect on your first course whilst sipping a unique and delicious cocktail.
The buttermilk fried chicken remarkably manages to distance itself from your assumptions. Darker than you will expect, closer to brown than golden, it provides a wonderfully satisfying crunch to each bite revealing succulent chicken below. The herbs and spices mixed in to the coating are subtle yet complimentary providing more depth than expected. An original issue with portion size has been overcome and you are likely to struggle to finish your main course these days, a slight shift too far in the wrong direction.
The shaved rib of beef is presented spectacularly, sitting on a large clean bone. Stay your knife as one touch with your fork will have the perfectly cooked beef falling from the bone. Dip your piece in the accompanying barbecue sauce and bring it to your mouth allowing the delights to hit you. The beef will fall apart on your tongue requiring minimal work. The prevailing flavour is the tangy barbecue sauce, disguising the beef, but as time goes on the richness comes through developing into a perfectly balanced beefy flavour. A smaller portion than the chicken this makes up for it with pure intense flavour, you only want a few mouthfuls before you risk over exertion.
Dirty Bones is a unique restaurant in London. The decor is wonderfully eclectic yet strangely familiar. I applaud their insistence on a small menu, allowing them to focus on their food and create an extremely appealing offering. Your bill at the end will be larger than you might expect, this is on the expensive side and, although you will receive plenty of food for your money, you are likely to leave over full or disappointed at your wallet’s sudden weight loss.