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Review of Filthy Dog at the East Street Tap

Dishes at Filthy Dog in Brighton

If I had a penny for every invite that lands in my in-box to sample the delights of a new fast food or street food eatery then I’d be a very rich man, writes Nick Mosley.

As much as the marketeers and PRs try to spin it, from years of musings I know its pretty much impossible to write 800 words about a pizza or burger. One can fluff the review around the dining experience, ingredient provenance and the like but ultimately the food is either good or not-so-good; it’s meat either in or on bread, usually accompanied by fried potato in one form or another, and undoubtably requires little chewing.

However, a Whatsapp popped up on my phone last Wednesday that made my little ears prick up and not just because of the words ‘Filthy Dog’ appearing in the first line. It was from a chef and hospitality colleague who’s career I have followed for many years, who is undoubtably not only great behind the stove but also has an acutely innate understanding of food and drink trends and has proved time and time again that he can be well-ahead of the industry with new concepts.

‘Filthy Dog’ is the brainchild of Isaac Bartlett-Copeland – partner at the always wonderful Embers open fire cooking restaurant in Meeting House Lane – and, of course, the much-loved and critically acclaimed Isaac At restaurant in Gloucester Street, a venue that graciously bowed out of the Sussex dining scene last year but without a doubt helped defined British hyperlocal, seasonal dining – alongside an exclusively English wine list. Revolutionary – yet also poo-pooed by many – at the time, Isaac At’s philosophy and format has gone on to become the standard not only in Sussex but across the country.

Now we relentlessly talk about ‘concepts’ in the navel-gazing world of hospitality. Big plates, small plates, sharing plates, high tables, fusion dining, wine pairings, blah blah blah and la-de-da… The problem is most chefs and eager investors appear to do their sums on the back of a fag pack after a bottle too many of Sancerre, rather than carefully and cautiously consider the marketplace and the longevity of the business model. Having watched his professional career from the sidelines, Isaac’s seemingly slow but always steady progression over the years brings me to the conclusion that he’s not a one trick pony.

Anyway, lets talk sausage… or rather hot dogs. As that’s what Filthy Dog is all about, and its somewhat surprising that nobody has delivered a hot dog specific offering of note before in our neck of the woods. The kitchen is in the East Street Tap pub, which is clearly a smart move as it provides an existing customer base and also a central location for home delivery services.

For anyone not familiar with the East Street Tap, its a pretty rough-and-ready yet characterful pub on – yep, you guessed it – East Street. A stones throw from the seafront, it’s a proper boozer with a slightly edgy, punky vibe and a slight ‘nose’ of decades of spilled beer and occasional whiff of ammonia but don’t let the latter put you off because the range of craft beers on tap is second-to-none and the bar team are supremely knowledgeable and serve with a smile, which is an increasingly rare combination.

The Filthy Dog menu is a masterclass of delicious simplicity. Seven meaty dogs and five vegan dogs, each priced between £7-10. To accompany, there are various permutations of fries starting at £3.50 plus a few additional sides including beans and Mac and cheese. If you choose smartly, you could have a hearty meal for just over a tenner – compare that to chain fast food outlets in the city centre and you’ll see that is a bargain.

I ate with my sister mid-afternoon last Saturday so we shared a selection of dishes, which landed on the table on a plastic tray and packaged in the most basic foil wrappings. I have no doubt this is absolutely deliberate to reflect the simplicity and authenticity of the product; there is clearly no ceremony here. Get stuck in and get messy.

Of course, we had to sample the Embers Dog ‘special’ – inspired by Isaac’s other business in Meeting House Lane. A solid, meaty sausage that thankfully wasn’t in the least bit fatty or greasy. Obviously, in line with the theme of Embers, the sausage had a smokey profile that was lifted by a curry-like sauce, crispy onions and coriander.

Now ever since a very late night stumbling out of a basement club in Vancouver with my mate Olivia I’ve grown to love poutine – Canada’s unofficial national dish – fries smothered with gravy and curd cheese. Unfortunately on this side of the pond, its often not particularly well executed but I’m pleased to report that Filthy Dog have nailed it. We also had the jalapeño corn bread – two hefty slices of pan-fried deliciousness that could easily be a meal in itself and made the perfect bedfellow to the sweet and spicy smoked jalapeño honey dip. The slaw of cabbage, carrot, pumpkin seeds and coriander was a welcome refreshing addition.

I feel there is still a tiny bit of work to be done around the edges with dietaries – especially in Brighton – but otherwise I can’t find a single fault with the offering. It’s great quality food within its genre and the price is smashing.

Isaac has eyed a gap in the cheap eats market – easy pub grub and also home delivery – and quite literally slipped his sausage in. Hot dogs are now hot stuff.

Nick Mosley

Filthy Dog at the East Street Tap, 74 East Street, Brighton BN1 1NF

07867 297 139 •


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