Refined dishes and American-style comfort food are not phrases you’d usually ever see together. The latter usually means mountains of oily, stodgy food with very little thought going into style or presentation. Not at Dirty Bones. Somehow they manage both. Good, warming comfort food presented immaculately with all of the flavour and comfort you’re looking for but without the need to sleep it off in a grease induced food coma for the rest of the day!
They have a number of locations around London including one tucked away in Kingly Court, one of my favourite foodie areas of London! We went to the Shoreditch branch though, which is a lovely cosy spot with a modern converted-pub feel – the perfect way to spend a relaxed evening or a lazy weekend brunch. The bar is in the centre of the room with a choice of stools at the counter or big velvet sofas with low tables. Around the rest of the room are a mix of comfy chairs and sofas for diners.
We ordered coffees and juice as soon as we sat down. They had a decent selection of fresh juices and their coffee was so good that we barely noticed the lack of pretty coffee art and cute mugs. We also got a couple of iced coffees and they too were perfect – served without ice (which I absolutely loved!) yet somehow staying incredibly cold throughout the meal. Far too often I find my iced coffee being 90% ice and I have to fight past the ice cubes to even have a hope of sucking up some coffee through a thin straw. In complete contrast, this was served in a see-through mug without a straw in sight.. I’m hoping (perhaps optimistically) that this is the future of iced coffee! They were nice and strong too – a few coffees later I was feeling seriously wired!
When it came to ordering food we wanted everything, with good reason – their whole menu sounds amazing! They have a whole section dedicated to crumpets – a unique (and to me far more enticing!) take on the traditional English muffin and I was tempted by the beetroot cured salmon, but when short rib beef is an option it would be a crime to choose anything else! The beef was divine – tender, melt in the mouth pulled meat in a flavour packed sauce and topped with hollandaise. I love crumpets at the best of times, but the umami butter spread with took them to the next level and whatever topping you choose (please let it be the beef!) you are sure to be in brunch heaven! It was my favourite dish (an absolute must order!), but not by as clear a margin as I’d expected – everything else was just as good.
Like the baked eggs. Baked eggs is a brunch staple, but how often has it looked this enticing!? The eggs were baked beautifully in a rich tomato sauce, they’ve even sneaked some avocado in there too and the whole skillet was topped with a perfectly crispy tallegio cheese topping and Parmesan breadcrumbs. Served with soft toasted sourdough for dipping, it was another perfect dish.
Being an American comfort food restaurant the fish tacos could easily have been a mountain of batter with barely a shred of fish hiding amongst the grease – in fact that’s what I’d have expected. Instead it was the complete opposite – an incredibly light grilled white fish garnished with fresh shredded cabbage and zingy pink pickled onions in a beautifully savoury blue corn tortilla served complete with coriander and chipotle aioli and a lime wedge.
Next up was the breakfast fries. I was craving fries which is very unlike me – I can probably count the number of times I’ve ordered fries at brunch! – but it must have been a sign because these were heavenly. Light and crunchy with a fluffy centre, staying crispy throughout despite being topped with lashings of tomato ketchup and two perfect fried eggs. Somehow the dish didn’t taste greasy at all – no easy feat for a skillet full of fried potato!! – I was shovelling huge forkfuls into my mouth and didn’t feel remotely disgusting by the end of it. In fact I felt great and couldn’t wait to tackle their dessert menu 😉
I don’t often feel like my peanut allergy bothers me. I miss out on some pretty cool flavours of peanut butter but besides that I don’t really feel hard done by except when I come across a dessert menu like this.
Caramelised banana waffles with toblerone chocolate sauce, blueberry jam, salted peanut butter gelato and crushed nuts. Wait. It gets better (or worse for me). A peanut butter cookie cup with salted peanut butter gelato, caramelised chocolate ganache, dark chocolate cookie chunks and honey nut brittle. Seriously what!? I should’ve known – America is the king of all things peanut and I have to admit they have nailed their dessert menu. Too bad for me though (even more so for Marcus since I guess he could’ve eaten them if I wasn’t there!).
Never one to miss out on dessert though they were kind enough to do me a peanut free version.. it didn’t look half as incredible as pictures I’ve seen of the real deal on social media (see below – photo creds @dirtybonesldn) but it was still bloody awesome. The waffle was soft, the batter was delicious and the Toblerone sauce was incredible – all of the delicious caramelized Toblerone flavour with none of the sticky bits that get stuck in your teeth (that make me dislike the chocolate itself!). Washed down with another of their heavenly iced coffees and I was in a very happy food heaven.
I’ll be honest, when we arrived I wasn’t in the mood for American style comfort food. I stupidly hadn’t looked at the menu and happened to have cooked up an absolute feast of bacon Mac & cheese burgers, with enough bacon Mac & cheese and bacon fries to feed a small village the night before and had woken up fancying anything other than more cheesy stodgy carbs but this meal couldn’t have been further from that. Of course if you want mac & cheese burgers, they offer those too – and they look seriously, seriously good, but if I went back I’d struggle to look past their deliciously different brunch dishes!
Overall Dirty Bones provides the ultimate balance – comfort food made with good quality ingredients and presented beautifully. I’d definitely recommend this place and I’m already dreaming of heading back for more of those heavenly umami butter soaked crumpets….
Link to their website: http://dirty-bones.com