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Square Meal Review of Dabbous ?


Dabbous is a gastronomic game-changer and the current embodiment of new-wave dining in the capital. In place of ostentatious, highfalutin antics comes a refreshing marriage of high-brow cooking with a chilled, of-the-moment vibe. Not surprisingly, this attracts a mixed clientele, from silver-haired financiers to camera-toting bloggers, all lapping up Michelin-starred Ollie Dabbous’ ‘truly innovative’ cooking. Esoteric seasonal ingredients, Nordic aesthetics and ‘wow’ presentation tempered with a heavy dose of restraint blend seamlessly in every meticulous plate: an umami-rich coddled egg with smoked butter and mushrooms served in its shell; wonderfully light mixed alliums dressed with chilled pine infusion; smoky barbecued beef short-rib enlivened with mustard, molasses and dill pickle – sheer brilliance, with comfort and surprise in every mouthful. The space is stark and fashionably industrial, with swathes of metal and wood at every turn; just add ‘absolutely fantastic’ staff and it’s easy to see why Dabbous is ‘in a league of its own’.

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  1. The tasting menu from Dabbous...
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  1. Published : Friday, 13 December 2013

    vialaporte :: Dabbous* // Fitzrovia // London

    So much has been said about Dabbous, from it being awarded its Michelin star, to various debates around why it has caused so much excitement. After having had some time to settle down, we wanted to understand what the hype is all about, and whether it is deserved.

    As with so many London restaurants, Dabbous was certainly created with stars in mind. Chef Ollie Dabbous has worked in a list of ‘who’s who’ restaurants before heading-up his own kitchen. It’s undeniable that he’s managed to create success through his cooking in a cut-throat market. But is the Dabbous hype really worth the long wait for a booking? That is the question – and the frank answer is no...
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  1. Published : Wednesday, 30 October 2013

    Munch My Way :: Dabbous, Fitzrovia

    Dabbous is an interesting restaurant… Why I say that? Its because of the food, the setting and the story behind it.
    The food stems from Ollie Dabbous who has been with Raymond Blanc and at Texture restaurant…

    I first heard of this place from Raymond Blanc BBC Series “How to cook well” and the amount of hype that the place got just made me want to check it out… This restaurant is the first to put quotes of famous food reviews and chefs on the side of the entrance, lifting my expectations super high...
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  1. Published : Monday, 24 September 2012

    LONDONcalling :: Dabbous

    So eventually we are in. I have tried every combination of dates available and had to settle finally for a Tuesday lunch rather than wait another couple of months for a weekend slot. This simply means a day tripper journey of over three hundred miles instead of a leisurely overnight stay and another restaurant the following day with a chilled out return back home.To add insult to injury our normal three hour journey turns into four because of an accident which totally blocked off the M1. This was literally a few hundreds of metres in front of us just past the motorway services. Luckily we were fifty metres this side of the turn off so we were able to re-route off the rear of the services to the next motorway junction. I was joyous of the fact we had started earlier than normal.We arrive late and stressed after a further delay in parking the car because a new company is in charge of parking so I have to re-register which they simply can not do that quickly.The restaurant is on the ground floor and is smaller than I thought, perhaps seating thirty or so. The basement bar is larger, perhaps twice as large and equally as industrial.Metal thieves would have a field day in here, its all metal, more metal, concrete and bare brick with a bit of wood thrown in for good measure. The oversize metal front door would not keep them out they would simply nick that too.Service put us at rest from the off as I was assured that the tasting menu was still on offer even though we were late arriving. The set menu was however very appealing with quite a few dishes crossing over from the a la carte and tasting menu, this from memory was £24 for four courses, excellent value. The carte has five, six and five choices and seems very reasonably priced although having said that you will need four perhaps even five courses to fill you up.From reading some of the reviews I had a nagging feeling the portion size was going to be an obsticle for us. Indeed the coddled egg dish (which we shall come to later) I viewed as a bit of a micky take at £7.The homemade nutty Rye bread arrived warm in a date stamped brown paper bag, with some whipped salted butter and a handfull of tasty bulbous green olives.The bread had a fantastic crust with good flavour and exploded in the mouth to meld with the salty butter.The tasting menu seemed good value at £49 for seven courses but apart from the egg I could see that one of them was a pre dessert so that would no doubt be tiny. Time would tell if we were sated at the end or not.Bang in season, English asparagus was presented with a deliciously lush homemade virgin rapeseed oil mayonnaise. Sprinkled on the plate were some chopped hazelnuts and meadowsweet. We were advised to eat this with our fingers which was a bit messy but fun.Mixed alliums in a chilled pine infusion sounded intriguing. How would it eat, how were the onions cooked, etc.I thought the dish was a real looker. I had to take multiple photos to make sure that I captured the dish correctly.What a simple plate of food and really refreshing on a summers day. Floating in the broth btw is an aioli and basil emulsion. You have to be careful cutting the onions as they are served with a good bite to them.We are spoilt with eggs, my ducks lay fresh ones daily in spring and summer so the Coddled free range hen,s egg had a lot to live up to. Not at all sure what "woodland mushrooms" were in the egg, they were a tiny dice but did their job well along with the smoked butter. Not for me as ethereal as others may decide but nevertheless a simple fun dish nicely presented. I guess it may end up being a signiture dish (if not already).Charred Salmon with elderflower, spring onions and almonds was again summer on a plate, and boy was the sun shining today.Top tasty piece of well sourced salmon, sweet distinctive elderflower with a spritz of lemon, whats not to like.The only meat on the well balanced menu was Barbecued Iberico pork perched atop a mound of savory acorn praline. To the side are turnip tops and somewhere on the plate was homemade apple vinegar, I suspect dressing the turnip tops. I was informed the pork is simply barbecued in the kitchen with no sous vide involved at all.I have a lovage plant growing in my garden which should be bursting into life very shortly, the pre dessert of Iced lovage has given me an idea as to how to use some of the leaves. I guess not to everyones taste this really is a distinctive herb but for us it worked and freshened the taste buds up no end.A work of art next and possibly my favourite dish. The forest floor on a plate. No not a plate, my mistake, a slate no less to show it off to better effect. Chocolate and virgin hazelnut oil ganache, basil moss, sheeps milk ice cream.. Witness chocolate ganache, chocolate log, chocolate soil, basil moss, dill cream, and the ice cream.Too often desserts are oversweet, some are sickly sweet and part way through they can become hard work, this was totally the opposite, visually exciting, we could not wait to get tucked in. Perfect balance of crunch, pitch perfect ganache, slightly sour notes from the ice cream and an excellent "basil moss". A star dish imo.Now then we skipped coffee as we normally do but were still served the most amazing canneles, sponge cakes baked in beeswax with a cherry on top. Absolutely gorgeous, the cherry on the top was a revelation I can't imagine these being bettered. Fantastic, I wished I had been cheeky and done an Oliver Twist and asked for more.Now then I never ever go to a restaurant looking for faults, its just not me, why pay good money to be unhappy? Having said that I did think that Dabbous would perhaps not fully live up to the hype. I did expect to nit pick on portion size and I suspected service may not have been perhaps all that, but I was wrong. Everything seemed destined against an enjoyable experience but we immediately fealt relaxed and fully enjoyed the experience. Special mention to Graham Burton and his staff for looking after not only us but some of the happiest customers that we have seen in a restaurant in recent times.Considering that he worked last with Agnar Sverrison at Texture for a number of years Ollie Dabbous  has not copied his style but developed his own and that is admirable indeed. There is a clarity about his food, its not muddled with lots of different flavours and indeed as we expected we think so far that this has got to be the restaurant opening of the year and a very exciting one at that. Shame again its so far away and booked so far in advance, still, there will be a next time.After service Ollie came out of the kitchen to spreak with a fair few of his customers whom he seemed to know quite well. Eventually and mindfull not to keep him we had a very brief chat before we hit the chaotic M1. He certainly is humbled by all of the attention he is getting and he seems to be a really focused hard working guy. We wish him all the very best.We took this photo.
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  1. Dabbous is still one of the hardest tables in London to secure. If you search the website for a prime time slot a month from now, you'll be told there are no tables within the next eight weeks and probably just give up. The reason for the supply/demand mismatch is that it's a relatively small room with a little more than a handful of tables meaning demand remains high two years after it opened. I went to Dabbous shortly after it opened, but the week before Fay bestowed a glowing five stars on it, and have never been able to get another table since without planning more than six months ahead. Frankly, I'd given up ever eating there again too. But one good turn on my part (an invite to join me at Sushi Tetsu) was repaid with reservations at Dabbous. See? Karma is a beautiful thing people, so be nice to each other out there.

    I loved my first visit to Dabbous, finding the food incredibly refreshing and light and, in general, that deft touch remains today...
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  1. Having landed in Terminal 5 just 3 hours earlier, I was just happy to be back in the heart of London, away from the functional but grey, drab architecture of Kiev. Slightly weary and feeling somewhat ‘travelled’, my mind wandered onto the possible contenders for the evening’s meal. I hoped it wouldn’t be the extravagant Roka, more out of consideration for The Flatmate’s wallet than anything else, and was also secretly hoping that it wasn’t bubbledogs, Bambou or Gaucho, which tragically just remind me of client lunches. So having heard glowing reviews of the Nordic/French inspired Dabbous weeks ago, but also warned of its notoriously long waiting list (even this review from Jay Rayner talks about how hard it is to get a table), I didn’t believe The Flatmate when she lead down Whitfield Street and nonchalantly stopped at its large, industrial wooden and steel doors.

    “You must be having a laugh.”
    “No I’m not, we’re going for a drink in the bar.”

    In my state of confusion, I hadn’t even had time to look around. The bar downstairs is a simple but stylish, industrial-looking space with several 2-person tables and a larger area with communal benches and low armchairs finished with more industrial steel. The cocktail menu is substantial and fairly unique, including the hilariously named IKEA Sours – a concoction containing Skåne akvavit, Mandarine Napoleon, orange bitters, rhubarb, jasmine and lemon...
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  1. Published : Saturday, 8 June 2013

    Agent Restauranteur :: Dabbous – London WIT

    It was early February 2012 when I first pushed open the heavy metal door of Ollie Dabbous’ new London restaurant. Tucked down a side road of Fitzrovia, it’s easy to walk past the bizarrely inconspicuous entrance, despite the large windows running the length of the dining room. So easy in fact, that we did walk past and arrived slightly late for the PR evening to which we had been invited.

    Spoilt with inventive cocktails and creative canapés, we were charmed by the energetic and enthusiastic staff...
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  1. Starting with The Good: The staff are absolutely fantastic – friendly, knowledgeable, never intrusive. Some of the courses (we had to have the tasting menu) were genuinely truly innovative and delicious. It began with the highlight of the meal; a starter of Avocado, in a white onion and Chinese tea broth was utterly incredible...
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  1. Published : Sunday, 28 October 2012

    samphire and salsify :: Dabbous

    At the time of writing this, a table for lunch at Dabbous wasn’t available for 5 months and for dinner it was a wait of 1 whole year. This must be the most booked up restaurant London has ever seen, and having just received a Michelin star, I imagine its popularity will only continue.

    Ollie Dabbous (pronounced da-boo) has a CV that can do nothing but impress, having worked at Le Manoir and more recently Texture, with brief stints at Noma and The Fat Duck to name but a few...
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  1. 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 I’m not surprised. 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...
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  1. Published : Sunday, 26 February 2012

    The Insatiable Eater :: Dabbous: London

    There's been so much buzz about Dabbous since it opened a mere five weeks ago. The simple and elegant food, the rockstar chef with a pedigree CV, and prices which are shockingly affordable (well by London standards).

    I heard about Dabbous via user restaurant reviews on Bloomberg before the big hitters like the Evening Standard showered it with five stars. Thankfully I booked a few weeks back and had the choice of sittings. Now Dabbous is booked out for the next two months. They deserve to be as this was one of the best meals I've had in London for a long time...
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  1. Published : Sunday, 9 December 2012

    FoodiesOnTheProwl FoodiesOnTheProwl :: Dabbous, Dec 2012

    There was an awful lot of buzz around the opening of Dabbous earlier this year and the restaurant managed to get a Michelin star within its first year. Getting a reservation for Dabbous is akin to scoring a ticket to the world cup final; the restaurant is booked out for months in advance. When a restaurant garners so much publicity it usually is a let down and we were keen to see if in the case of Dabbous, the hype was justified...
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  1. Published : Sunday, 7 October 2012

    Saying it straight :: Dabbous. Round 2

    Even saying the words “round 2” will irritate some people. It would irritate me.

    It’s still incredibly hard to get a table here: partly due to the size – I guess around 35 covers – but mostly due to the quality of the cooking, which is unlike anything else in its price range.

    We started with a drink downstairs. I’m not sure why the bar isn’t being used as an extension of the restaurant and the lawyer in me is thinking planning permission or building regulations. Who knows. But it was empty. I assume that most people don’t know that you can get quite a lot of the restaurant dishes down here with your drinks because, given the booking situation, it should be mobbed...
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  1. Published : Wednesday, 12 September 2012

    doughnuts&swine :: Dabbous

    I’ve been busy. So I haven’t been blogging. I have continued to eat however. And now I am back (for those of you possessing a modicum of interest). Since my last post back in April I have sat exams, undertaken a half iron triathlon, worked in Uganda, climbed Kilimanjaro (overrated), worked in Ethiopia, savoured the Olympics, had weddings in New York and the Cotswolds (neither of them mine), worked in Washington D.C. wrote a dissertation for an MSc and enjoyed Bestival. So I’m not lying when I say I’ve been busy. At this point you’re also thinking I’m a bit of a wanker. And you’d have a point. I have had some excellent and not so excellent food during this period (Ethiopia being a low point, as was eating copious amounts of Maltesers whilst writing my dissertation – they are not lighter than ordinary chocolate). I’m going to start with the best of the best however, and the subject of this blog. For my birthday, 3 of my friends and I booked into Dabbous for lunch. Now, I called Dabbous aeons ago to make a reservation and any date I suggested to eat they were fully booked out. Eventually I asked them to give me dates they could fit me in. When they suggested the 31st of August, I booked it on the spot and figured I’d find 3 friends to come with me. Within an hour I had a full complement, less about my likeability and more about the popularity of Dabbous. I was worried however. Having read so many rave reviews about the place, the expectations were so high, that any let down would accentuate any disappointment. So we arrived for lunch on the last day of August celebrating a blue moon, the end of the summer and my birthday. Impressions were initially positive. The restaurant had a clean, industrial feel to it. Staff were pleasant as we perused the menu and offered (helpful) suggestions. Green olives were brought to the table as we made our selections.In order to maximise our interpretation of a tasting menu, that is, we (I) like to taste what everyone has, we opted for 2 set menus and 2 from the a la carte menu. The menu seemed rather simple. By way of example, ‘peas with mint’, ‘ripe tomato in its own juice’ were on offer as a first course. The simplicity of the description had the effect of inuring excitement in attempts to conceptualise how they were going to taste. In addition to the above we selected the salad of fennel, lemon balm & rose petals. Upon tasting each of the first plates, the uniform response from the table was that the food was stunning, not only in its presentation, but in its taste. I’m not going to detail each plate for each course as I’d be here for a long time, but the peas with mint shall suffice as the exemplar of the first round of courses. Fresh garden peas were presented upon a mint mushy peas alongside crushed ice peas. Make any sense? Probably not. Suffice to say it was quite simply stunning. This was replicated throughout each of the plates.Fresh and warm bread was brought out in a paper bag with the date on the bag. Bread in a bag. I don’t know, but it worked. As you do. Next up was the braised halibut with coastal herbs; grilled mackerel gooseberries and horseradish; barbequed lamb rump, violet mustard and pickled vine leaves; roast veal rump, summer vegetables and chrysanthemum leaf in a light cheese broth; and barbecued Iberico pork, savoury acorn praline, turnip tops and apple vinegar. Each excelled.   Where sauces were served with the fish and with the veal, they were poured upon the plate at the table by the waiters, adding a simple act of theatre to the occasion. Occasion is the right word to use here as central to the eating was an appreciation of the food on offer (at least that’s what I thought). There’s a danger that this sounds total wanker, but it didn’t come across like that at all. In fact, it came across quite simple, stylish and unaffectedly charming. For me, the Iberico pork with the savoury acorn praline was just sublime and highlighted the intelligence of the menu on offer. Great food all round.  A visit to the toilet downstairs opened up an additional world – enroute, a bar for punters that offers some food. According to one of the girls, you’d sell your grandmother for the chicken wings. And apparently it’s easier to get a space there. So that’s my recommendation. At the time of writing, Dabbous is booked out for lunch until December 2012 and for dinner until May 2013. So, head to the bar and have some chicken wings. There was of course still time for dessert. Our table hosted ripe peach in its own juice, Mara des Bois strawberries with Tahitian vanilla ice-cream, custard cream pie, and artisanal cheese from the British Isles with baked apple and toasted sourdough. The juice was poured at the table for the peach and also for the strawberries. Seriously, peach in its own juice, strawberries and ice-cream – so simple, but so bloody amazing. Absolutely delicious. I’m still unsure whether the custard was my favourite part of the pie or the slightly salty pastry that just offset the sweetness to perfection. I could go on, but I’m salivating again. This food might sound simple, but it’s nothing of the sort. Clearly the concoctions are created by an individual who intimately understands flavours and winning combinations. It wasn’t just the kitchen staff who were on form however. Everyone, from the woman on the telephone who took the reservation, to the staff who welcomed us as we arrived, to the service staff, to the waiter who recommended venues for cocktails after – each were friendly, knowledgeable and made Dabbous a very comfortable, long and leisurely lunch. Certainly the best food I’ve enjoyed in 2012.Coffees and cannele bordelaise with cherries were provided before we decided to head to Dukes for martinis. The bill for 4 including 2 bottles of red wine with our dinner came to £200. An amazing lunch, I doff my cap. This place is fantastic.
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  1. I've never heard that reply to a restaurant reservation before. But then, Dabbous is no ordinary restaurant. With a striking industrial interior housed in a former internet cafe (R.I.P. Cyberia!), Dabbous doesn't immediately strike you as the site of one of the most sought after reservations (April 2013 as of this post) in London...
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  1. Published : Wednesday, 29 August 2012

    Saying it straight :: Dabbous. It’s the DB’s.

    *Warning* This review is fairly pointless because unless you have magic powers, you won’t be able to get a dinner reservation until next July or possibly August...
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  1. We arrived with no reservation. We conquered and we won the battle of the 'no available table till next June' battle. Yes, for those of you who is reading this at the moment, it is currently a six month wait to get a table for this fine establishment that has recently got everyone talking and raving about. Dabbous is the first venture from British Chef Ollie Dabbous (previously head chef of Texture). Although relatively new to the scene, it has already collated tonnes of rave reviews from critics and bloggers alike. It is also due to this popularity that the waiting list seem endless and on a wimp, my dining companion and I decided to try our luck with walk-in at 12 o'clock sharp last Tuesday. Thankfully, we got in no problem at all!...
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