1st November 2023
Each month, our food writer Bibi Roy reviews one of our food and drink partners. This month she visits Fuggles Beer Cafe to check our their branded new Hot Dogs. Members enjoy a complimentary drink with every Hot Dog between 12pm-4pm in November.
"In 2013 Fuggles was born in Tunbridge Wells. Alex wanted to create an accessible space where people could enjoy the best British and European beers, along with great wine and spirits. After much success they opened a second site in Tonbridge in 2017 and in 2021, a third bottle shop. All are in central locations where footfall is good and a mixed bag of patrons frequent. There’s the craft beer aficionados, all Deerpark Festival attire and Nashville jeans, the office / shop workers, (told you it was central), needing to offload the stress of a busy day, or conducting interviews outside of those boring coffee shops. The after business bunch meeting friends and family, because the place is so big they will always find a seat and a multitude of options for everyone. Lastly the hospitality faithful who love to meet here to decompress from industry madness. Something for everyone? Yes there is. Even this solo diner can while away the hours getting an education from the very accomplished team behind the bar.
I am here today on behalf of the TN card, as Alex has created a new hot dog menu available at Tunbridge Wells and Tonbridge. He says he looked far and wide to find a New Yorker bun that would hold a solid bratwurst and all of those fillings without falling apart. Eventually his choice was a secret north London butcher and baker to bring you the best ingredients. Yes, yes I know why not Kent based, you’ll have to take that up with the boss.
Welcome the House Dog, Korean Dog, German Dog and Curry Dog. They’re not for the faint hearted I tell you. It’s noon and before I come back later to see Mr Will Devlin to sample The Small Holding’s first new beer in collaboration with Earth Ale, I’ve snuck in to try the German Dog.
Firstly let me say these babies are huge. This one fills my 3/4 pie plate comfortably. Trust me you won’t need any other accompaniments, but if you did want something, I reckon the pork scratchings that come with Roddy’s hot sauce, the half pint of chorizo crisps or matchstick potato chips would all do nicely.
The New Yorker bun is sweet and fluffy, but totally robust enough to hold that magnificent salty pork bratwurst. There is a vegetarian bratwurst available and a vegan bun, but I’m happy with my lot. Atop is sauerkraut, zig zags of mustard, curry ketchup and crispy onions. It’s a manly monster made to cause optimum mess around the chops and upper clothing, whilst generating premium hilarity from others, sniggering as the yellow stuff soils my freshly washed sweatshirt. Darn it, every time Bibs.
I’m told their four grilled cheese sandwiches that include a classic, spicy devil, jamon, and chilli are popular orders with the lunch crowd, but seriously if my first dog is anything to go by, a dense meaty Bratwurst with no padding breadcrumbs in sight, lathered with flavour and texture, I’m choosing the Curry Dog next. Alex says I will certainly feel the heat, therefore I am full of anticipation.
I’ve been for a walk about town and am back as Will Devlin arrives with his new beer. “It’s a limited edition Rhubarb and Meadowsweet Berliner Weisse, as part of their Earth Ale Chef Series. Made with rhubarb from The Smallholding farm and foraged meadowsweet, imagine rhubarb tart, with subtle notes of almond and vanilla”. It really does epitomise everything they do at Will’s restaurants.
Here comes the Curry Dog. Let’s see if his beer can combat the green chilli pickle, curry ketchup, raita and bhaji crisps. Well move over Madhur Jaffrey they’ve only gone and done it. The two work brilliantly together. I believe it’s on for a short time, but if popular could be a regular on the board. On the Curry Dog, Alex did warn me it was going to be a hot one, but oh how he played it down. This baby will make you feel like you’ve had lip fillers. I think he’s getting me back for not visiting regularly enough. I politely suggest either some agave or sweet mango chutney running through Greek yogurt on top may adjust the heat balance, which he takes on board. Tamarind sauce would also work well here, making it almost chaat like. Advice aside I love the crunch of the bhaji bits, their spice brings the whole thing together, even if the majority is all over my fingers and face.
I see the Korean Dog heading to another table, it’s covered in kimchi, pickled onions, Korean ketchup and kewpie, (Japanese mayo). I never was a kimchi fan but it does work really well with burgers so why not hot dogs.
Today has been a real eye opener. I’m not known for being a hot dog or beer lover for that matter, but these are premium and I challenge you not to enjoy them. On the menu permanently at both beer cafes, just ask Alex’s very able team for recommendations and more beer pairings if you’re not into sours. Will’s is but I really like it, particularly with the Curry Dog.
Huge respect to Mac who has given me pointers on every beer known to man, I hadn’t realised how complex the variations and flavour palates can be, and let’s not forget they also have a stellar gin, rum and whiskey selection that rivals many. Fuggles definitely warrants several visits to truly understand every aspect of their repertoire, so get yourselves over there.
As day turns to night, Alex, Will and I spend the evening chewing the fat, debating the pitfalls and successes of our fields. It’s gonna be a long night as they both dive into a third dog. They try to jovially force feed me but delightful as they are, three’s a deal breaker. Bye boys, thanks for a top one."
Review by Bibi Roy exclusively for the TN card.
Member reward this November: Receive a complimentary drink with every Hot Dog or Grilled Cheese Sandwich all week long between 12pm-4pm at both Fuggles Tonbridge and Fuggles Tunbridge Wells. Complimentary drink applies to any soft drink, a Schooner (2/3 pint) of beer or cider from the House Favourites list or small glass of our house wine.