Dabbous 333

39 Whitfield Street , London, W1T 2SF

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SquareMeal Review of Dabbous

Hall of FameSquaremeal London Hot 100 2016

DUE TO CLOSE SUMMER 2017. CURRENTLY ACCEPTING RESERVATIONS UNTIL 21 JULY. CHEF MATHIEU GERMOND WILL OPEN A NEW RESTAURANT AT THIS SITE LATER THIS YEAR

When he exploded onto the London restaurant scene in 2012, Ollie Dabbous’s minimalist re-imagining of high-end dining created shockwaves (and a six-month waiting list). Tables are now easier to come by, but Dabbous’s unstinting creativity progresses ever upward: “always new and exciting, always something unexpected”, raves one fan. While the brown bags of hazelnut sourdough and the classic coddled egg loaded with smoked butter and delicate wild mushrooms are as impressive as ever, it’s the clarity of flavours that really impresses – from a pea mousse with fresh peas and mint granita, or a segment of beef tomato in cleansing tomato water, to BBQ green beans sitting alongside pink-hued veal and a dome of salty-sour Spenwood cheese mousse. Expect the unexpected at the sweet end too – perhaps a refreshing pre-dessert of chilled verbena and cucumber, or wild blueberries and marigold shoots making their presence felt in the crumbliest, lightest lemon and elderflower tart. High rollers may feel out of their comfort zone amid the industrial chic of a concrete and dark-wood dining room, but charming service adds some warmth – although nothing can trump the “divine” food.

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7.3

Food & Drink: 7.7

Service: 6.8

Atmosphere: 6.4

Value: 7.0

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 3.0

Robin T. 09 September 2015

Like many others, it has taken a long, long time to bag a reservation at Dabbous. In the intervening years I have immensely enjoyed fabulous meals at Restaurant Story, The Ledbury, Pollen Street Social and numerous others that can claim a similar offering of 'modern European food'. So I was looking forward to finally figuring out what all the fuss was about and, I'm disappointed to say - not all that much. As others have pointed out the room is 'industrial chic', which is a matter of taste. I don't necessarily need tablecloths and crystal from a Michelin-starred chef, but I do expect rigorously en pointe service and this was sadly not in evidence. Also, sufficient light to be able to actually read the menu (we had to use our mobile phone flashlights, and we were not the only ones) would not go amiss, nor interfere with the 'moody' atmosphere. The biggest bugbear came right at the start, when we were offered drinks and I made the mistake of ordering a cocktail from their extensive and quite unusual list, while my partner opted for a glass of champagne. His came immediately, but mine, as is often the case with cocktails, took rather a long time. Which would have been fine, should the server have had the good sense not to try to serve us the first course before I had even received my pre-dinner drink. The restaurant was not full, and I did not get the impression that they needed to 'turn tables' so there was no excuse for the meal being rushed onto the table. Our server took the course back to the kitchen as requested (it was a cold starter anyway, so no harm done) but I did detect an expression of exasperation. Then, when my cocktail finally arrived, she immediately brought the food back to the table, before I had even had a sip! So we politely told her that we did not want to eat before we had finished our pre-dinner drinks, and back it went for a second time. To be fair, she did apologise for the mix up at the end of the meal, but frankly that is just poor training. The food - well, it was nice, in a couple of cases very nice, but really nothing ground-breaking, at least not in 2015. The presentation was pretty, but not exceptional - at no point did I feel compelled to say 'wow' or silently contemplate the beauty of what was being offered. And - this is quite serious ,as the menus are both 'set', either a tasting menu or a dinner menu - there was no attempt by any of the (too numerous for a small restaurant in my opinion) servers to ascertain whether either of us had any allergies/food intolerances that would require a substitution of a dish. My partner, while not allergic, does not get on with nuts and it turns out they were present in every dish save the desert, and not identified on the menu in any of them bar the first course (or he would have said something). He soldiered on (and I ate the nuts he left on the plate) but it was unfortunate, at that price level, that this possibility was not even considered. So...perhaps they were having an 'off' night, but it is not the summer holidays any longer and we were not tourists. I guess I can now say 'been there, done that' but while not a seriously unpleasant experience, it is certainly not a restaurant I would rush back to.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Anna B. 19 August 2015

I think I might have gone on a bad night to this restaurant. It's sad really because I have been trying to make a reservation for I don't know how long and so I was really looking for forward to diining there. It was also my Birthday meal. I must say that the food was lovely but the service was poor. We went for the set dinner menu, purely because I preferred the menu options. I had intended on going for the tasting menu. The food is very good. I must stress that the food was fantastic. I spefically enjoyed the potted shrimps and the lamb dish that was on offer that night. A great balance of flavours and textures whilst also looking extremely pretty on the plate. After dining a many restaurants, I would put Dabbous into the same bracket as Restaurant Story I prefer the decor there as Dabbous is very Industrial which is part of it's design and some will no doubt love that style. I believe that a main part of any meal is service and this is varied at all restaurants and everyone's personal views on this vary dramatically. I'm not one to write a poor review lightly but I feel that if this is the standard and I really hope it's not as it will be definitely be falling from grace. So pouring my own wine is some what frustrating in a restaurant when you are paying such a high price. I don't mean once, I mean all night. That was a minor irriation. However, the main point that annoyed me and rather ruined the evening for me was the lack of description by the staff. The first course was place in front with a brief synopsis, after this it all went downhill. The waitress came with each new course and just said this is your next dish. Sorry, I'm new and then made a faux laugh. We were offered the cheese course. I love cheese and am quiite well versed in different varieties. Sadly, when I asked about what cheese was included, the response was a stilton like cheese, a cheddar like cheese, a goats cheese and sheeps milk. I define that as pretty poor service. So in short, the food was lovely, and I really hope that the staff have a little further training in the dishes. Would I recommend it..... mmmm honestly.. Not sure. I know that if i was given the amount of money in cash and asked which restaurant would I go. I don't think I would be rushing back....

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

London Gourmet platinum reviewer 04 November 2013

Once you managed to get a table (at one point more difficult to get than any other London restaurant with redicoulus advance booking requirements, in particular for Sat nights) you might actually be very pleasantly surprised by its low-profile, easy going design, layout and atmosphere. Some of the "over"hype has vanished a bit now (you'll now able to get a Sat evening booking 4-6 months in advance …) and that's for the better. After all the reason for the success of this place lies in its food and approach to cooking. Small, tasting size portions and for a top London “in” restaurant (now also Michelin starred) one of the best value for money around with tasting menu around £60 a head and matching wines at around £45. Try to beat that ! Attentative service in this small and rather intimate place.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Jolly Angler 23 September 2013

Have the mighty fallen. I hope not. I have managed to get tables to eat here six times now and have relished the chance to go back every time. After my dinner Saturday i walked out saying I won’t be rushing back. Gone is the coddled egg, pea and mint, probably the two best things i have ever eaten, replaced by ripe tomato and fennel salad, both dare i say it a little tasteless Then sweet corn drowned in butter, not very inspiring Mr Dabbous. The mains of Monkfish were perfectly cooked but underwhelming. Deserts pleasant but uninspiring. If Dabbous keeps serving food like this will it is booked out solid for a year? I doubt it and I will not be rushing back.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Kiaorana67 20 September 2013

A few days ago we had a special occasion to celebrate. We had booked another place but then by sheer luck we got a booking for lunch at Dabbous. Having heard so much about it, we decided it was the best place to go. I am still trying to decide what sort of experience it was. I think that the little to no atmosphere (and the very minimalistic/scandi decor) is a turn-off. The food is good but it is nowhere near amazing nor that sophisticated. And the portions are tiny. More tapas than food. I am a size 8 and I was a bit hungry when I left (we had the short menu). Only thing wow about the food is the presentation. They are mini works of art and beautiful. My husband joked that the actual cost of the whole menu to the restaurant was around £5. Maybe even less. And there are no frills. No extras. It is like easyjet, it takes you there, it is a good experience but nothing to write home about – other than how beautiful some of the dishes are and the fact it has a good wine list that does not cost the earth. Will I go back? yes, probably, but not on rush.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

David H. platinum reviewer 05 July 2013

Our first visit to a full restaurant on a midweek lunchtime, with a mix of business and “civilian” clientele. We looked at the tasting menu and decided that this was our choice since the variety and apparent interest in the dishes made us a little reluctant to miss out on anything. There's a few points to make. I ate eight courses, my wife seven. Seven courses of freshly prepared food of this quality for £59 is good value. When you add to that the very reasonable wine list , coffee etc I think there's a lot worse being sold around London for a lot more, and Mr Dabbous is clearly investing in his brand. I'm thinking that maybe the tiny portions of cheese might have been a little larger for the £9 surcharge. The premises are kind of “industrial” and look rather nice. I have no idea whether much of this is genuine or “made to order”. Service is timely and friendly enough and different people kept popping up to serve, so no extended dialogues with the waitstaff here. They don't pour your wine and I have no issue with that. Of the food we ate there wasn't a single dish that wasn't presented very nicely, wasn't tasty, and where you could suggest credibly that the cooking wasn't right. We preferred some courses to others, but everything was at least very good indeed. We both agreed that the first course served, peas with mint was superb . I might just make the point that they didn't serve a lot of meat ( one course) or fish (one course) and personally. given a choice, I'd drop the number of vegetable-based courses before the fish and meat from 3 to 2 with one extra meat or fish. Can't help it, I'm a carnivore. The single meat serving- barbecued Iberico pork- was not in our view the highlight of the meal. But overall this was one of the best meals we've eaten this year and we did what I suspect a lot of people do, which is to book our next visit at the desk as we left. This is a seriously good restaurant.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 5.0

Miranda R. 26 June 2013

Just go… excellent value. Delicious food. Great attentive service. I was a little speechless!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Palmyra k. 02 May 2013

It's probably the most difficult restaurant to book in London but it's worth the fight to get in. The cooking is outstanding, comforting and surprising. The tasting menu is fabulous. It's in a league above most restaurants.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Nicole G. silver reviewer 04 April 2013

I'd booked this restaurant in August last year and promptly forgot about the reservation until a couple of weeks ago when I started to get excited. It had so many accolades but now, having been there, that leaves me perplexed. There is a singular lack of atmosphere throughout this abandoned warehouse minimalist design. It feels unfinished and a little disconnected. That permeated the dining room and quite frankly I have never seen so many miserable people all eating dinner in the same restaurant. We were sat right behind the reception desk as well so essentially we had someone's back (and bum) facing us the entire meal – not a great start. We chose the tasting menu though we were told all the dishes even on the a la carte menu were tasting sized…I'm confused, why not then just do a few tasting menus – instead of charging a la carte prices and insisting diners order 6 or so (expensive) dishes? Moving on. My friend asked for wine advice – he had been looking at a Rioja and the Sommelier chose to point him to a totally different type of red (as if all red wines were interchangeable) and eventually said why not go with the original choice. And then the food arrived. I can only imagine that Oliver Dabbous has an obsession with nuts because 3 of the 7 dishes had nuts in them and these were not subtle additions. The avocado and lemon balm was overpowered by the pistachios. The infusion was nice but too gentle to compete or make an impression and the avocado seemed like it was just plonked in as an afterthought. Overall, a pointless dish. The roast salsify was equally overpowered by the brazil nuts and by the time we got to the Iberico pork (lovely meat – horrendously walnuty sauce), I had reached my nut quota. The only dishes we liked were the crab which was succulent and the buckwheat waffle with fudge sauce which was nice but utterly uninspired. On first glance this looks like an interesting menu but the flavours do not marry together most of the time and sometimes clash in a way I would expect from someone's first efforts in the kitchen rather than Michelin-starred chef type way. I can only imagine that it is curiosity that prompts people to visit this restaurant but with the sheer amount of choice in London, there are far better options to pursue.

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