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Hiding in plain sight with a vast three-story location on Piccadilly, Hide is the hugely ambitious restaurant that chef Ollie Dabbous has seemed destined to open since his self-titled debut picked up every award going in 2012. Hide is actually three spaces – Above, Ground and Below – though it may as well be called Upstairs Downstairs for the hierarchies of exclusivity involved.
Below is a cocktail bar overseen by long-time collaborator Oskar Kinberg; Ground is an all-day modern British restaurant, affordable by Mayfair standards; while a swirling oak staircase leads to Above, which has the sylvan view through sound-muffling windows over the London bus rooftops to Green Park. Tables up here are spaced so you never need make eye-contact with your neighbour, let alone hear what they are saying, while inspired design touches include not only the expected handbag stools but mobile phone chargers hidden in the table and a leather-bound iPad that can access the 6,000 wines from Dabbous’ backers, Hedonism Wines, and have them delivered within 15 minutes and served with a £35 mark up. Well, what else would you expect in a restaurant rumoured to have cost more than £20m?
To eat, there’s a 10-course tasting menu for £95 (plus a four-course lunch for £42), bursting with inventive visuals such as charcuterie speared on the end of a feather, caviar-beaded tuna tartare prettily heaped at the centre of an ornamental, inedible leaf, and Dabbous’ signature ‘nest egg’ of coddled egg and smoked butter, a sort of savoury Creme Egg served in the shell on a bed of hay. Things didn’t get truly exciting for us until halfway through, though, with the arrival of a breathtakingly subtle red mullet in a bread and saffron sauce, and a gamey, dry-aged Goosnargh duck breast. Puddings were also best-in-class, from the ‘garden ripple ice cream’ that looked like a slice of Twister, to a swirl of coconut cream fashioned into a white rose petal.
Criticisms? Even allowing for 10 courses, we found the pace of the meal dragged, and while staff can’t be faulted for their enthusiasm and expertise, the constant interruptions and explanations a tasting menu necessitates does not make for the most relaxing experience. For make no mistake, this very much is an experience – albeit one that might remain in the once in a lifetime bracket.
To celebrate the Year of the Woman, SquareMeal is running a series of interview profiles with top female chefs. Read here how Angela Hartnett made it to the top, launched her own group of restaurants and how she describes the secrets of her success.
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