"Yabba dabba Dabbous!"Review Rating: Reviewed by Matthew B
It’s been over eighteen months since Dabbous opened and was declared a ‘game-changer’ by the Evening Standard’s Fay Maschler, and received a 9/10 review from this very site. The Fitzrovia restaurant quickly became the
must-visit new opening, with getting a reservation becoming a quixotic task. So it’s interesting to visit now the dust has settled to see if the accolades remain deserved.
It’s still not easy to get a table - our lunchtime reservation was secured two months in advance and that was because of a cancellation. But like any in-demand place, it can often be worth trying your luck on the day as a walk-in, so don’t give up hope.
The space is austere and reminiscent of the New York dining scene: industrial chic, exposed ducts, wood and metal, with tables close together to maximise use of space. It’s perfectly nice but hey, no one’s here for the decor, and it’s suitably buzzy on a Tuesday lunchtime, no doubt because most people have waited months to be able to come.
One thing that hasn’t changed since last year are the openers of fresh green olives plus sourdough bread, the latter served warm in a paper bag with the day’s date stamped on it, accompanied by a walnut whip-shaped blob of home-churned super soft butter.
For lunch there is either a seven course tasting menu priced at £59, or a great value four course set menu for £28, all seasonal and aimed at clean and simple presentation. Economics coupled with the fact that the set lunch looked interesting led us to choose from it.
First up was toast of almost puff-pastry consistency, with salty lard combining with subtle black truffle; muscat grapes with lovage and almond milk was a rich, dessert-like starter for my companion.
Carrots in oxtail gravy would seem a bit simplistic on paper - it was literally a carrot in gravy with a blob of lavender cream. But what a carrot and what gravy; this is where you realised it’s all in the execution that makes this place a cut above the rest.
After struggling to eat the previous course with a fork and spoon with any degree of decorum, it was on to the mains. Lemon sole with warm potted shrimps was a perfectly cooked fishy delight. My friend’s barbecued beef (possibly partly sous-vide) came with an amazing roasted half of an onion, resembling one of the moons hovering over Tatooine in Star Wars. An intriguing Stitchleton buttermilk-based sort of cheese butter accompanied, which threatened to overpower the meat.
The desserts were great, particularly for those without a sugar fetish. Buratta with crushed apple, meadowsweet & hazelnuts acted as a half-way house with a cheese dish. Hot cashew nut butter with ginger & lime was served in a small pewter beer tankard, the zingy foam at the top belying the rich nutty liqour sludge at the bottom. Delicious...
Service was attentive but not overly formal. Dabbous isn't resting on its laurels, the food is first rate and the punters continue to come. See you in another eighteen months then.
Matthew B reviewed Dabbous on Tue 05 Nov 2013