Top Dog, London
You’ve gotta love the gourmet street food trend.
Top Dog is a prime example of this with an offering of the traditional American hot dog with a twist. Owned by Californian, Marissa Hermer, the restaurant sources ingredients from the locality and provides nostalgic visual imagery from across the pond and Marissa’s own childhood.
We were shown around by the General Manager, Raphael. The restaurant is split across three floors, each with a unique function. When entering at ground floor level, the primary focus is the fast food style counter and reclaimed bench seating, which allows space a real speed of service and consumption,with a maximum of about 25 covers - the idea, of course, staying true to the spirit of hot dogs.
Despite the industrial look of the fixed benches, this was not akin to the grungy, elbow greased street food vendor we are used to seeing in films, yet the bright colours and injection of retro imagery gave the area a real playfulness. This combined with the cheery excitement of the staff made a strong salute to the authentic American diner experience.
The basement is a seated dining area of about 30 covers, the space is dominated by the presence of a Norton Motorcycle on a podium with a mural behind it. Raphael eagerly informed us this was the base of their social media campaign, the idea that people were allowed to pose on the bike and upload to Top Dog’s Instagram account. A nice little novelty, but what really caught our attention was the motorcycle headlamp feature lighting, all sourced from original 50’s motorcycles.
The first floor has a the private dining room available for hire, Raphael informed us they were looking to run events with local artist and DJs here. The same seating features here, all sourced from a school in Paris. To protect the listed building elements when installing the feature lights, all services had been put in a dropped ceiling to protect the existing with a gap around the edge to reveal the existing cornicing.
We opted to sit on the fast-paced, ground floor and pretty much tasted our way through the menu. The quirky combinations (including one that even employed Korean pickled cabbage) were delightful and the atmosphere was an enjoyable one, perfectly positioned for Soho’s thriving nightlife.