Behind an imposing steel door behind Goodge Street subway station, just down from Pollocks Toy museum you’ll find Dabbous.
Dabbous is the latest ‘it’ restaurant, which in normal speak equates to a four-month wait list for a table, and is the brainchild of newly Michelin starred chef Ollie Dabbous.
On entering the famously hard-to-book restaurant you’d expect something pretentious, something opulent, something over the top. So it’s a pleasant surprise to see that it’s all dark steel, wooden floors, sparse and small, very small, there’s room for just 35 diners.
My girlfriend had somehow managed to get a booking at the restaurant on the exact day of my birthday, genius! So, after some faffing with the tube and taxis, we made our way over.
The staff were very pleasant and helpful, always smiling and always happy to explain anything on the menu, which wasn’t that difficult given the choices are an extremely reasonably priced tasting menu (£59) or a fixed menu that wasn’t that different.
We both opted for the tasting menu and a lovely bottle of New Zealand Riesling.
Our first taste of the food arrived in a small brown bag with the date printed on, alongside some very green olives and homemade butter. It was an extremely good start; the crust on the bread was amazing; crispy, tasty and the homemade butter, a slightly nutty taste, adding great things to the rest of the bread.
The first course was a pea puree, peas and an iced pea, well, ice. It was deliciously smooth and creamy with the peas popping and the iced pea melting in your mouth wonderfully. Even my girlfriend, who always says she doesn’t like peas, lapped it up.
Second course were some lovely soft quarters of red and white onion in a clear onion broth with basil oil (Mixed alliums in a chilled pine infusion as it is officially called). I’m not usually a big fan of onion but whatever had been done to these ones to make them so soft and clear was simply divine.
So far, so good. Dabbous was living up to any expectations we may have had but what was to come next simply blew our minds.
Now when you tell people the best thing you’ve ever eaten is an egg, completely cleaned out with the top cut off, filled with a smooth sort of scrambled egg with mushrooms and, seemingly, small chunks of smokey bacon, people think you’re mad. However this was simply the most amazing food I had ever tasted. I could have eaten an Ostrich egg filled with this creamy deliciousness!
The good food just kept on coming with a lovely piece of Iberico pork next on a smokey, chunky peanut sauce with baby radishes on the side (aka Barbecued Iberico pork, savoury almond praline, radishes & crushed green apple), another mark firmly hit.
Next we paused briefly to enjoy the cheese course, a small plate of four different types of cheeses from around the UK and Ireland with some crisp breads to spread them on. Not cooking as such but still delightful.
Waxing lyrical about something, as I have been doing, is all very well and good but you’re probably starting to think I’m making this up. Well I’m not, because if I was I wouldn’t have put the next course on the menu. A lovage sorbet.
Now, most people I have told about this aren’t familiar with lovage, and neither were we. Lovage is a member of the celery family from what I can gather, it certainly tastes like celery, something I’m not a fan of and don’t really know anyone who is. So an iced celery sorbet I’m afraid was the only thing that missed the mark and from the way the waiters talked, we weren’t the only ones to agree. I will say that I had a good few mouthfuls before I stopped. I was almost convinced, almost.
Finally we got to desert. A small pastry case filled with a lovely pear and cream filling that oozed when you broke into it. A tad sweet but still ended up being devoured in seconds.
Usually with a restaurant that is booked out months in advance, when the only menus are fixed, there’s a certain amount of worry, a certain amount of ‘can it be true’? I’m happy to say that Dabbous is without doubt the best place to I’ve ever eaten, from restaurants in Dubai and Milan to Locatelli’s in London, Dabbous deserves the plaudits it’s receiving, and then some.