Bubbledogs is a restaurant from cinema. It is violently 1980s, American and flash. The sign Bubbledogs shines neon pink from the window, a twin to Tom Cruise’s Cocktails & Dreams sign which twinkled at the end of Cocktail (1988) to say his narrative arc was done. He owned his own cocktail bar, even if drunken Doug the Babycham philosopher — ‘I know when the bottle is empty… heh-heh-heh’ — was dead. He was saved by a combination of homespun small-business ethics and populist alcoholism.
Here in Fitzrovia, where restaurants gather in piles, the menu is only hotdogs and champagne, a food and a drink with such complex meaning and agonised marketing history that they surely belong together. Hotdogs have an awful reputation. I blame the Odeon for those joyless schlongs of pig, hosed off a corpse and stuck in a bun made of salt and hate; they match the movies they are made to be chewed to. Champagne brings its own burden, class anxiety in a flute, with all those sobbing bubbles.
Bubbledogs looks charming, as dim rooms flushed with neon always do; it feels like Barbie world but slutty. It could be anywhere — the Mojave desert or Dartmoor or Finchley, although Soho would be best to my mind, takeout only at 5a.m., as the drunks cry and mew, and the dirt is sucked off the streets. The room is long and thin and the tables are breakfast bars with stools, which I suppose works; it adds to the impermanence, the sense of being at the back of a movie, with the ketchup and the mustard and the poisonous popcorn. The brickwork is exposed, the floors are dark wood; this is a Coke bar for people who like sausages and fantasy.