I think I was one of the lucky ones, only a four month wait for my table at Dabbous. Upon arriving I spoke to front of house who informed me the next available table for dinner is November 2013! It's crazy, a wait I have only heard for the likes of Noma. Dabbous have a great PR company and have recently been awarded a Michelin star, no surprise. Ollie Dabbous, Head Chef has done a great job here, in under nine months his restaurant and him are now one of the most talked about subjects in London.
The question I kept asking myself is "can it really be that good", well I was about to find out, but firstly I wanted to check out the downstairs bar, especially the cocktails. The Grapes of wrath was a revelation in the cocktail world, truly amazing. A mixture of pisco, damson syrup, plum bitters, cranberry juice and lemon all shaken together with some Muscat grapes, it was heavenly.
We then headed to our table and toiled over the extremely well priced wine list, which starts at around £18 a bottle, very good value for London. For food you have a choice of either the tasting menu, which is £54 and includes seven courses or the a la carte where dishes range from £4-£18.
The service is very attentive, but there were too many staff standing around, watching your every mouthful, it was a bit creepy. They also had an extremely young sommelier, he seemed to lack real flair when talking about wine and his descriptors were very basic. They offered no insight into the wine i was about to drink.
Some olives and bread were brought to the table on arrival. The bread was delivered incredibly fresh in a paper bag with the date of dining. Warm and moist, containing seeds, nuts and an aroma of bacon. The olives were equally some of the best I have ever had.
We started with hispi cabbage and sunflower. The hispi cabbage was succulent and had a fantastic colour. The sunflower petals/seeds sat on a dollop of sunflower mayonnaise. To look at this dish you just wouldn’t be expecting the amount of flavour that came through on the palate, very rich and a fantastic dish, unlike anything i have experienced before.
The second dish of Celeriac with muscat grapes, lovage & hazelnuts was just as good. The celeriac was sweet and juicy while the muscat grapes lengthened the sweetness and hazelnuts added texture. They were all swimming in a delicious citrus broth. I couldn’t taste much of the lovage, but then there were only five small pieces. The appearance of every dish that kept coming out were all wonderfully presented without being fussy, it’s amazing how much flavour they deliver; a real shock to the palate.
Pumpkin with orange blossom, macadamia & rosemary soy cream was the interesting choice. This dish was all about the textures, the soft stringy pumpkin, crunch of the macadamia and creamy rosemary soy. I felt this dish was a nice spoonful, nothing more, almost slightly sickly. This is probably the marmite of the evening’s dishes.
Moving on to the mains which were slightly bigger in size compared with the starters. Braised halibut with coastal herbs. Halibut, celery, oyster leaf, sea aster, pickled garlic all bathing in an amazing broth, while the halibut itself was cooked to perfection. I wasn’t blown away by this dish but I could definitely see the skill which has gone into executing it almost perfectly.
The dish I had been waiting to try was the barbecued Iberico pork, savoury acorn praline, turnip tops and apple vinegar. I love all of these ingredients. The pork was nice and the apple vinegar gave a good acidity to the dish, though the acorn praline I felt was too crunchy and needed to be a bit finer. The dish was good but I felt it still needed some work.
For desserts we started with Chilled lemon verbena infusion with cucumber & perilla. It had a real depth of flavour and delivered so much, though I found it to be more of a palate cleanser as opposed to a dessert. I also couldn’t stop imagining it with a dash of vodka served in a cocktail glass; it felt more like a drink if anything.
Fresh milk curds infused with fig leaves, fig and pistachio was finally stepping into the dessert category. The curd itself was soft and extremely smooth and strangely had a slight hint of coconut. The fig I thought could have been a bit softer while the pistachio gave the dish a nice crunch and complimented the textures.
There is no way to describe the experience at Dabbous. I didn’t feel as though I was eating in a restaurant, more like I was on a course discovering new flavours and ingredients. Every dish was presented though it was a piece of art and every ingredient had its own space on the plate. Overall Dabbous is a flavour sensation to be experienced, only it didn’t quite hit the spot for me personally, especially given the four month wait.