It’s raining in Kensington and we are hungry for brunch. Yes, that convivial meal twixt brekkie and weekend dinner that allows for a broad menu over which to pore. Kensington is posh and I would venture to say that Dirty Bones has the only entrance in the area that resembles that of an iffy dive or old-fashioned speakeasy. It has a nocturnal persona as a buzzy bar, which accounts for this edgy urban façade.The red-tiled staircase leads to something of a warren of bar and dining areas. It’s an eclectic mix of rustic tables, wood-clad walls, more tiles and enamel pitchers. It’s quirky but it works. There are banquettes for groups (and I am sure there are many of those during the evening service), as well as romantic tables for two. Low lights even for the weekend lunch crowd, but that did make for a cosy ambiance after the cold and grey of Kensington High Street.
Dirty Bones cocktails are outstanding, so start your brunch with one. True, I have not sampled the whole mixology bill of fare but I can highly recommend at least a novice’s selection of two. Mezcal Old Fashioned is a drink over which to linger. Granted, there isn’t a roaring open fire down in the basement sanctuary but this smoky libation is right for just such a spot. Del Maguey Mezcal Vida was sweetened with Agave Syrup and lifted by a few shakes of both Angostura and Orange Bitters. At the risk of sounding sexist – this could be one for the boys.
Chilli-Infused Bombay Sapphire Gin
Dirty Gimlet had my name on it. I have been a long-time lover of a gimlet of any hue. They are sweet and sour concoctions with a truly adult taste. The Dirty Bones Gimlet was one of the finest of the genre it has been my pleasure to try. The key is the Chilli-Infused Bombay Sapphire Gin which imparts delicious measured heat which has a counterpoint from the classic Rose’s Lime Juice and Celery Bitters. This is a must-try at any time of the day.
The dishes here are described as American comfort food and there is a lot that falls into that category. A brunch favourite at Dirty’s will likely be The Mac Daddy. A 6oz house burger is topped with pulled beef short rib, and that’s the secret to the success of this dish. That additional meat is tangy with a light BBQ sauce which elevates the patty into something extraordinary. The Mac element is Mac and Cheese which was mild and creamy.
Coffee and Donuts for dessert? That sounds improbable but it’s a cuppa Joe with a difference. It’s coffee gelato and served in a coffee glass with a hot donut alongside. I would love the recipe for this ice cream. It’s not over-sweet and with a flavour that reminded me of the Camp Coffee of my childhood. This was a delightful treat and a masterful presentation.
Dirty Bones Kensington is a great location for a weekend brunch. It might be a challenge to find the front door but the effort will be worth it.
Dirty Bones Kensington
20 Kensington Church Street
London W8 4EP
Tues – Thurs: 5pm – midnight
Fri: 5pm – 1am
Sat: noon – 1am
Sun: noon – 9pm
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018