Dabbous – Soho

“Hot” restaurants are a growing trend in London. It’s good because it shows a maturing and evolving restaurant scene with some of the best dining options in the world. It’s bad because it means you can’t get a bloody table.

However I saw slightly ahead of the scene and booked a table at Dabbous just before the hype hit, admittedly still 2 months away. Then we booked our holidays and the inevitable clash occurred. Could I really justify cancelling a week’s surfing in North Lanzarote. Perhaps but it wasn’t an option with the wife. Hence persistent online attempts and calls finally resulted in a Friday lunchtime table a further 2 months later. We were in!

 

They have a small well designed a la carte section (of smaller dishes we were told, hence you probably want 4 courses each) and a very reasonably priced set lunch (£22 for 3 / £26 for 4). But given how elusive the booking was the tasting menu seemed the only way forward. At £54 it’s not cheap but for an 8 course menu it compares very well to other London tasting menus. We also opted for the matching wines (£40 for a glass with each course), the wines complemented each course and I had no complaints. None of them were stand out amazing but for the price it’s a good option. Unfortunately I didn’t pay enough attention to recall them here.

The bread was a nice touch in its own date stamped paper bag. Very tasty as well with hazelnuts although I found the texture a little heavy, good soft creamy butter.

A beautifully simple and intriguing menu title, peas and mint. What we actually got was a delicate pea mousse, peas in a pod, pea shoots, mint granita and edible flowers. The peas retained their delicate fresh flavour wonderfully, this dish clearly took a light touch in terms of flavour and delivered spectacularly.

Mixed alliums in a chilled pine infusion. The softly cooked (poached?) onions were sweet with softness and just a hint of bite. I found the chilled pine infusion slightly too light personally although the oil added flavour as well, but still a good dish and certainly innovative and intriguing. Edible flowers added to the look and taste of the dish. There was also a flavoured mayonnaise (or butter?) which I found a bit strange texture wise in the liquid.

Next was what is perhaps becoming their signature dish, the coddled egg. It is served in the shell with mushrooms and smoked butter. The perfect texture of the egg, smokiness and rich butter made it very decadent. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Fish next, a well cooked piece of halibut atop a lemon verbena sauce, with celery. A solid light fish dish with good lemon and herby flavours. The celery is a classic addition but was prepared and cooked precisely. The sea herbs (astor?) gave even more freshness to the dish.

Onto the meat. After the light and elegant dishes I was looking forward to a hunk of red meat. Which was certainly delivered, even if it was pork. A nice chunk of Iberico pork barbequed to sear but left pretty rare. The sides reflected the diet of the pigs, with acorn (sauce) and turnip tops (pickled). The pork was rich, tender and meaty. The slightly sweet and nutty sauce mingled with the sharp green pickled tops and meaty slab to provide a balanced mouthful.

We were offered cheese next, at a supplement (£9). My concern for being too full and also the fact I personally prefer cheese after dessert meant we put off the decision for now and went to the first dessert, peach in its own juice. When it arrived it didn’t look particularly swimming in its own juices, that is until they brought around the small carafe full of juice and ceremoniously poured it on top. The clean sweet peach taste was accented by slivers of almonds and coriander shoots, a surprising but successful combination. The biggest surprise was a marigold leaf which provided a punchy earthy and slightly spicy tang.

Onto the final dessert, which on the menu didn’t appeal hugely to me, a custard cream pie. It was served in crisp brik pastry (I think it was salted?) which gave a richness to the banana puree and cream sitting inside. More edible flowers both for flavour and very attractive presentation.

Cheese was the final course (I couldn’t resist but you probably guessed that). It was a good selection and we were given two generous glasses of port even though we only ordered one portion. Unfortunately due to the matching wines I can’t quite remember which cheeses we had but suffice to say it was an excellent and British selection!

Finally a very good coffee, and a herbal tea together with two mini canales. Quite a lunch for sure! Dabbous succeeds in creating clean, elegant dishes that sing with pure flavour, and adding a few subtle twists along the way. The essence of each dish is focused and clear, and barring a few tiny quibbles all tastes amazing.

The final bill was around £115 a head, which to my mind for an accomplished tasting menu with matching wine in London is excellent value. It’s obvious why it’s booked up, get a reservation now and you won’t regret it (whenever you finally get to use it).

Dabbous on Urbanspoon

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