HOWDY PARDNERS. Fancy a little US-style dining in your London life? Whether you fancy digging in yourself or are planning a group outing, I find there’s always something for everyone at the numerous US style diners you find EVERYWHERE these days. And that’s part of the problem I find when choosing one to head to. There’s The Diner, there’s Ed’s, there’s all the independent ones – what to do?
Conor had mentioned Red Dog Saloon in Hoxton, as he went for lunch there and reported back that it was pretty good. They have three diners in Hoxton, Clapham and Soho – so it’s pretty easy to get to one if you’re in the city. They also have wing and burger challenges, which unfortunately we weren’t brave enough to take on. This time, at least…
We had a Friday night free, I’d just been paid (cha-ching) so decided to check it out as a potential new fave dinner spot. One of my biggest loves in London is The Diner – one of the first places I ate out at in the city, I fell in love with their food and milkshakes. So, I was particularly interested to find out how another, similar, restaurant group would shape up.
The vibe inside the Red Dog Saloon was pretty Americana-esque, although definitely a less ‘typical’ diner feel to the likes of Ed’s – less of the leathery, red and white striped seats, jukeboxes et al; and a slightly more ‘grown up’ feel with low lighting, lots of wood, and a fabulous but understated neon sign on the door. The best way to describe it is kinda…ranch-y? Sort of like the kind of place you’d find the cool American kids hanging out, if we were across the pond. Which, coincidentally, I am now (HELLO FROM THE SCHEDULED SIDE).
Because I’m actually super lame, one of the things I was most excited about was having a diner-style milkshake with my dinner. I’m always singing the praises of the huge shakers you can get at The Diner, a favourite US-style chain of mine, and upon realising that Red Dog Saloon do OREO milkshakes (my all time fave shake) , I did a little internal happy jig and got straight to ordering one. It was just the right thickness, with little tiny softened Oreo chunks. Plus, I managed to not get an ice cream headache. Hooray! The milkshakes (£5.45) come in a range of flavours which also includes Chocolate, Vanilla, Strawberry and Banana & Peanut Butter.
We decided not to fill up TOO much beforehand (a rookie mistake I’ve succumbed to many a time), so just grabbed a portion of four BAR-B-Q Chicken Wings (£4.95). POOR DECISION.
…to choose so few, that is, as they were brilliant. Okay, they weren’t the most photogenic of foods, and I probably wouldn’t advise choosing these messy lil things on a first date, but honestly, a huge American HELL YEAH to them. The barbecue sauce was thick and sticky, and there was plenty of chicken meat on them bones. As well as the BAR-B-Q, they also do Original Buffalo, Sweet & Spicy Mustard Glaze and, if you’re feeling brave, you can take on their Hot Wings Challenge (£12.50), made with Naga Viper chillis. Rather you than me for that last one. Honestly though, the wings were so good that next time I’d be tempted just to order loads of them as a main.
The main event. The humble burger. If there’s one thing London does a LOT, it’s burgers. Everywhere you roll, you’ll likely spot some kind of burger joint on the street.
I went for the Californian (£12.95) burger, with guacamole, applewood smoked bacon and mozzarella cheese. The patty itself was nice and juicy, although I wasn’t 100% sure how much the guac really worked with it – but the bacon was absolutely LUSH. There was lots of crisp lettuce in the burger that gave the whole thing some nice texture, and the buns were good’n’soft when you bit into them.
It probably isn’t my number one burger in the city (in fact, not even sure it makes top five), but definitely a satisfying bite to eat, and a decent size too – although I did feel it was slightly overpriced for just the burger alone. £12.95, I expect some chips with that…
Along with our burgers, we also grabbed two sides to share between us. The first of these was the Texas Chilli Cheese Fries (£5.75). Even if I did think they were *slightly* overpriced, Red Dog deliver a decent portion size for these, the chips themselves were good – thin, crispy and covered in oozy melted cheese. Underneath the chilli, but on top of the fries themselves, lurked a layer of perfectly spiced chilli, with that ‘home cooked’ taste. Jalapenos sprinkled over the top gave a little bit of extra kick if needed, and I’d totally recommend upgrading your regular chips to a basket of these babies.
We also had the Mac & Cheese dish (£3.50) as our second side to share. The crispy crumbs over the top were a great touch, and added a bit of extra texture to the macaroni and the cheese sauce. Speaking of the sauce – it wasn’t quite as cheese-heavy as I usually like, but it was very creamy and the pasta quite soft, which is how I prefer it cooked. As a side, it didn’t overpower the tastes of the burger and fries, so the lightness actually worked well in that sense. However – if I’d ordered it as a main dish, I might have been slightly disappointed. I’ve had better Mac & Cheese on my foodie adventures, but still enjoyed Red Dog Saloon’s attempt regardless.
Overall, I think Red Dog is quite a simple and easy place to eat. If you’re not well-versed in the US foodie scene in the city, it’s a good enough place to enjoy a burger and chips. And, if you’ve learnt one thing from this review.
BUY THE WINGS. IT WILL MAKE LIFE BETTER. TRUTH.
Ever been to Red Dog Saloon?