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Restaurant Review: Dirty Bones Shoreditch, London

Anisha Patel
05 December 2016

With a menu teeming with belly-satisfying gourmet dude food, and a fun, laid-back atmosphere, getting dirty at the east London branch of this tried-and-tested hotspot has never felt so good, says Anisha Patel

THE LOWDOWN:
Now that the nights are longer and the days colder, the summer promise of getting bikini body ready through #cleaneating just isn’t cutting it. Thankfully, the DFM – dirty food movement – that kicked off in 2012 is still going strong in east London, not least because of the opening of Dirty Bones in Shoreditch (the original branch is, surprisingly, in raw food/yoga loving Kensington).

Nestled off Brick Lane in a Grade II-listed building, the latest outpost bills itself as serving ‘New York comfort food in an environment with the the greatest old school, hip-hop, soul and funk music’. There’s the homely atmosphere of a pub, but you know that there’s something cooler going on ­– pints give way to a menu of seriously heady cocktails, while the décor is all vintage furniture, grand pillars, purple velvet banquettes, funky artwork and neon lights.

But it’s the food that really shines the brightest (warning: calorie counters look away now). The menu – which is divided by intros (starters), burgers, dogs (the hot variety), bones (meat), salads (to appease any guilt?) and sides – is packed with so many drool-inducing options, it’s difficult not to want to order it all.

There are American dude food staples executed beautifully (hello, crispy fried chicken with a deliciously moist centre) as well as genius twists on classics (why didn’t I ever think of making cheeseburger dumplings?). If you’ve been to the west and central London branches, make sure you order the Shoreditch Signature here – the star dish of crispy, slow-cooked lamb ribs served with a zingy chimichurri sauce is the kind of food that makes you want to lick the plate (ironically) clean. Other meaty highlights include deliciously charred flatiron steak with burnt rosemary, and a fall-off-the-bone beef short rib, glazed with a salted caramel and burnt onion barbecue sauce.

Even vegetarians won’t be disappointed. The exemplary mac ‘n’ cheese delivers satisfying mouthfuls of macaroni swimming oozy telaggio cheese sauce topped with crispy breadcrumbs. Throw in the Dirty Mary salad and cheesy truffle fries, and you’ll walk away just as delighted as someone who tucked into the entire bones section of the menu.

If your belly hasn’t completely busted by this point, continue the calorie fest with Toblerone-Tella waffles, served with blueberry jam, a sugar-glazed banana, crushed nuts and a scoop of peanut butter gelato. We were defeated by this point, so I can’t actually vouch whether it’s as good as it sounds – but that’s just another excuse to go back and get my hands dirty again.

THE GOOD:
The food is completely on point. Not one mouthful disappointed.

The atmosphere. Laid-back, fun and cool, it’s ideal for a date or casual catch up with friends.

THE NOT-SO-GOOD:
While we loved the pub-like interiors, it wasn’t as much fun having to traipse up two narrow flights of stairs to the ladies’ toilet.

Though the staff are fun and chatty, service got a little slow as the restaurant got busier.

THE VERDICT:
Gourmet American comfort food executed perfectly. If dirty tastes this good, I never want to be clean.

BOOK IT:
Dirty Bones, 1 Club Row, London, E1 6JX (+44(0)20 7920 6434; dirty-bones.com)