Step out in Kensington and you expect to find starched white table cloths and aloof service, but it doesn’t have to be like that. Case in point: Dirty Bones on Kensington Church Street. Look for the neon sign standing out across from luxury boutiques and big-name brands and duck down into the basement for something altogether different.
This place is all about Americana with retro styling, a pinball machine for a host desk, mis-matched lampshades throwing out the lowest level lighting and a nostalgic soundtrack. Dirty is an apt name for this place – the menu is made up of extravagant dude food (when will it stop) – but it’s dirty in the best way, so come hungry and leave the veggies at home.
We started with perfectly cooked salt and pepper squid smothered in a smoky chipotle mayo which, while delicious, was a little overpowering, and moreish hot wings in a tangy house-made Louisianna hot sauce.
Mains are divided into bones (chicken, ribs), burger and dogs. Big-hitter in the burger section is the Mac Daddy, a colossal burger loaded with succulent short rib, and rich, oozing mac and cheese made with tallegio, smoked cheddar and parmesan. We struggled to finish the whole thing, but the flavours were spot-on and the whole thing held together well, so you weren’t left in a sticky mess.
Unfortunately we can’t say the same for the dirty dog; a hotdog topped with chunks of beef chilli, fiery pickled jalapeños, crispy shallots and gorgonzola, which unfortunately fell apart at the table and resisted reconstruction, meaning we had to eat it with a knife and fork. Despite this, flavours were good, but a bit stingy on the gorgonzola sauce, which would have elevated it. Highlight of the mains though was the sweet, sticky miso and pomegranate glaze on tender baby back ribs.
Sides include a full portion of that mac and cheese, fries and slaw, but fried aubergine with confit garlic cream cheese is the one to go for, along with show-stopping skinny fries topped with chunks of soft, blushing lamb with sweet miso and chilli. This was so good you’d be tempted to order one as a main to yourself to save fighting over the crisp bits at the bottom.
The dishes are a little hit-and-miss here in terms of execution, but the relaxed vibe and couple of gems make it the perfect place to head if you’re looking for a refreshingly casual joint this side of town.
Dirty Bones Kensington has just launched late nights on Friday and Saturdays with DJs and cocktails until late.
20 Kensington Church St, London W8 4EP