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|Address:||39 Whitfield Street, London W1T 2SF|
|Tel:||020 7323 1544|
|Price: £66.00||Wine: £21.00||Champagne: £60.00|
|Opening Hours:||Tues-Sat 12N-3pm 5.30-11.30pm (Sat -6.30pm)|
3 of 4 people found this review helpful.
Basement bars are always difficult to get right, as there is little chance of passing trade. Dabbous is a wonderful bar, with a restaurant attached. I'm sure that's not the way it would want to be known, but, whilst the food is good, it is the fabulous cocktails whisked up in the basement that will get me back.
Whilst the upstairs dinning room is white and airy, the basement is an industrial bunker: exposed air conditioning ducts, bare concrete and metal (the loo is secreted away behind a wall of steel, marked by an almost hidden sign). The cocktails are terrific and inventive: the glass for the Accomplice comes rubbed with a sage leaf, the Thriller in Perilla has a shiso (perilla) leaf poking out of it and Cat Diesel is a rum based short, heightened with cigar syrup. On its own, the syrup is just another sweetener. When mixed with rum and egg white, the rich tobacco flavours come to the fore.
The restaurant is perfectly pleasant, without being outstanding. The chef (and owner) is ex-Texture, and it shows; the style being very modern and light. Small plates, lots of flavours, lots of interesting ingredients. Plates are all pretty as pictures. Jackson Pollock ones mainly. It is all well presented and well structured, without ever really being outstanding.
The menu structure is very a la mode, with a list of starters and mains, but no real differentiation. We were encouraged to take four or five of these, mixing and matching between the two lists, so between us we managed to go through most of the menu. And this really adds up: at an average of £11/12 a dish (and there is little difference either in cost or size of the starter/main dish), this can mount rapidly.
Steak tartar (with more cigar flavours, this time oil) was a lovely mouthful of meat. The fab egg was a hollowed out shell, restuffed with the yolk and a few mushrooms, nestling in a bed of hay, no doubt intended to invoke thoughts of the farmyard. Goose was terrific: a thin slice of breast, sweetened with Manuka honey; the lovely, sweet scallop came with a perfect quarter of Jerusalem artichoke and the Iberian pork slice with some turnip tops. Celeriac wasn’t such a hit; decried as being too watery.
Deserts were very pleasant: fig ice cream came with a twig which, whilst resembling a vanilla pod, was spun sugar, coloured with squid ink; a chocolate and moss number; some nice cheeses.
That the stand out dish was the mashed potato sums up everything really: ok, it was covered in sliced truffle, but it is still a spud. Inventive use of interesting ingredients is all very commendable, but they need to be very much more than the sum of their parts, not just being used as they are outlandish.
The wine list is short and priced well at the mid-range, although oddly contains no non-sparkling roses. They don't serve tap water as “it doesn't taste good”. Rubbish; London tap water is perfectly fine. At least they don't charge for the mineral water. But still.
Service is friendly, although the lovely waitress in towering heels isn't going to survive long on them. The place has only been open for a week. I'd give her no more than another one max before she's in flats. It would have been nice too to have been told straight out that their credit card machine was down. That it was left to the end of the meal is daft: fortunately one of us had a cheque book. I wonder what they'd have done had we not?
Given location, it is hardly surprising that the crowd feels very media, and I'm guessing it will be a great expense account lunch place for the offices around. I really hope that the restaurant fairs well, but as well as the mess with no credit cards, it was incredibly difficult to book. It took half a dozen phone calls and an email. I was persistent, as I really did want to try it. Others won't be.