'This is a cut above your average American comfort food'

Dirty Bones Kensington

Open Tue–Wed 5pm–midnight, Thu midday–midnight, Fri–Sat midday–1am, Sun midday–10pm

The blurb:

‘Welcome to the House of the Dirty Bones, home to the finest New York style comfort food and cocktails. You can find our original location in Kensington, whereby the secret door through the stand reveals the retro cocktail bar and two separate dining spaces, serving critically-acclaimed ‘dirty’ comfort eats and playful cocktails.

Award-winning British designer Lee Broom designed the eclectic interiors, conducive to a relaxed atmosphere of ‘high fives & good vibez’ and a music policy of classic soul, old skool funk, nu-disco and original gem remixes (live bands every Thurs night and DJs Fri and Sat).’

The style:

Neon signage, kitsch cocktails, dingy lighting, filthy food. A pinball machine acts, pleasingly, as the front desk; staff are friendly, funny and attractive. The Saturday night we visit the place is buzzing, with a DJ spinning late 80s hip hop classics that make us feel at home—until we realise that for half the clientele, the music is an enjoyable nod to a bygone era, much as the Beatles were to us in 1989.

Anyway, it’s great fun, generation rubbing shoulders (literally and metaphorically) with generation, as everyone gets on with the important business of having a blurrily memorable night out.

The crowd:

Gorgeous, well-spoken twenty-somethings letting their shiny hair down; clearly local families with teenagers out for a Saturday night treat; a few reality TV stars (we spotted the pretty one and the thick one from TOWIE); some American tourists drawn, and impressed by, a taste of home; several (ahem) forty-somethings reliving their youth… This place has broad appeal.

The food:

Droolingly yummy. We were only reviewing starters and cocktails, but even these were enough to convince us of the kitchen’s excellence in everything one avoids when eating clean (nothing for Ella Woodward or Hemsley sister devotees here, but oh what a perfect venue for a cheat night).

Our salt and pepper squid was tender, expertly seasoned, with light, crisp batter and the judicious addition of finely chopped fresh green chillies. The same lightness of touch was evident in the charred padron peppers and hot chicken wings, ‘tossed in the chef’s own Louisiana-style hot sauce’.

From the mains, the chicken and waffles looked particularly toothsome (‘half a pile of crispy fried chicken with freshly baked waffles and a shot of maple syrup’) and were drawing moans of pleasure from the next table. As you might expect, ribs, hot dogs and burgers (including the 6oz Mac Daddy, which comes with pulled beef short rib, mac & cheese and Dirty Bones BBQ sauce) all feature, but this is a cut above your average American comfort food—the menu was devised by chef Ross Clarke, who worked with Heston Blumenthal at the Fat Duck’s Experimental Kitchen.

The drinks:

Inventive and extremely potent cocktails. From a list divided into Specials, Shooters, Dirty Drinks and Old Dogs, I tried the Lexy (Finlandia vodka, prosecco, Amaretto Luxardo, lemon juice, strawberry puree, gomme syrup—deceptively fruity and refreshing), the Dirty Gimlet (chilli-infused Bombay ​Sapphire gin, Rose’s lime juice, lime, celery bitters—clean-tasting, with a good chilli kick) and the Mezcal Old Fashioned (Del Maguey Mezcal Vida, agave syrup, angostura bitters, orange bitters—so strong that I’m ashamed to admit I had to swap it with my husband, having overestimated my capacity for Mezcal at the end of an evening’s drinking).

He went for the Dirty Mary (Finlandia vodka, tomato, orange, lemon and pickle juice, fresh mint, chilli sauce and a sour cream Pringle rim—‘fantastic—the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever tasted, and you can quote me on that’) and the Mutt’s Nuts (Woodford Reserve bourbon, cinnamon & vanilla infused maple syrup, angostura bitters, lemon and apple juice—‘lovely, spicy, warm and comforting’).

The drinks list isn’t limited to cocktails, also offering wine, ‘fizz’, beer and cider, but when they’re this good, why would you go for anything else?

Dirty Bones is fab. If you’re looking for a great night out with mouthwatering food and refreshing (!) drinks in stylish yet unpretentious surroundings, get yourself down there pronto. You won’t regret it.

Dirty Bones, 20 Kensington Church Street, London, W8; www.dirty-bones.com; 020 7920 6434

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