Obtaining a table at Dabbous is like winning the lottery, random and overwhelmingly exciting. The morning for my visit finally arrived, my stomach whirled, it felt like a combination of Christmas and my birthday rolled together. Whenever I have a special restaurant booked I get nervous beforehand, terrified that I’ll suddenly come down with flu, or something will happen to jeopardise my long awaited meal! I had already had to cancel my first gold-dust booking, when I was told that I HAD to work that day… I almost cried down the phone to the poor reservations girl who kindly and miraculously managed to fit me in a few days later. All plans were dropped, my dad was called and we marched off towards Goodge Street ready to be impressed.
11.55 am would usually be a little early for cocktails, even for me, but eager to try the concoctions on offer at Oskar’s Bar (downstairs at Dabbous) I succumbed. Simple innovative drinks are made expertly behind the bar, we waited while chatting to the sociable waiter. The drinks are stylish and cool, served in misted glasses and ice cold. First I tried the ‘Dillusion’ (Bombay Sapphire gin, elderflower cordial, cucumber, dill, lemon and sugar) – a simple sophisticated drink of the palest green, adorned with a tiny sprig of dill. It was perfectly mixed and deliciously subtly flavoured. The ‘Disco Rhubarb’ (Skane akvavit, homemade rhubarb syrup and apple juice) was a fun second cocktail, served long over crushed ice – a curiously fruity and refreshing drink.
Upstairs the waiters are dressed to impress and hover ready to pounce on any empty plates or glasses. Plump green olives were brought to our table and the menu explained. They recommend you choose four or more dishes each from the varied a la carte menu, or if you’d prefer there is a set lunch and a tasting menu available. We opted for the set lunch with one substitution for me, omitting the fish and adding in Iberico pork.
Warm nutty wholemeal bread arrived in branded brown bags, with a dollop of yellow creamy butter. I won course number one hands down with my gloriously summery ‘Peas with Mint’ a glass filled with a garden of creamy pea mousse, tiny purple petals and minty granita. The combination of the hot and cold textures was intriguing, but utterly delicious… I could tell my dad was jealous as his Mixed Alliums in a Pine Infusion was stunning in presentation but not as exciting in taste.
Next came my magnificent Barbecued Iberico pork with Savoury Acorn Praline, turnip tops and apple vinegar. The sticky, caramelised and richly favoured meat was accompanied by a satisfyingly nutty caramel praline, weird by wonderful. The Braised Ling with Coastal Herbs was almost too lovely looking to eat, tantalizingly soft fish with specks of bright pink and a pale creamy sauce.
Neither of us could resist the Barbequed Lamb shoulder with runner beans and lesser calamint (a fern-like member of the mint family). It was the best course yet, divinely tender meat paired with yummy beans and soft white cheese, a dreamy mix of ingredients.
For desserts the options are modest: Ripe peach in its Own Juice and Artisanal Cheese from the British Isles with baked apple and toasted sourdough. We chose one of each. The peach was perfectly simple, sweet and juicy with an alluring hint of vanilla. The cheese was beautifully presented with a delicious caramel apple and ultra thin bread crisps, my dad really enjoyed it.
After my healthy peach pudding, I was craving a mouthful of something sugary… right on cue two tiny little cakes were delivered with liqueur soaked cherries on top: a mouthful of heaven to accompany our coffees.
For such divinely delicate and pretty food, it seems a great shame that the venue is quite the opposite in style. A harsh industrial room, it doesn’t suit the elegant cuisine at all, even the front door is an oppressive heavy gateway. Aside from this minor criticism our trip to Dabbous was as sublime as hoped and Mr Oliver Dabbous is deserving of the overwhelming interest he has received.
Dabbous is very reasonable with the Set Lunch menu costing £26 for four courses and the Tasting Menu priced at £54. Enquire now and you may just get a table in 2013.
Visit the Dabbous website here for more information.