This name probably rings a couple of bells for a few of you, although annoyingly for me, I am guessing it resonated about 2 years ago when this restaurant first opened. The brain-child of Ollie Dabbous who at 32, opened his first restaurant in London; the self-titled Dabbous on Whitfield Street. Having received his Michelin star through the post last December, bookings in this light and modern restaurant near Goodge Street have gone through the roof.
After a serious of delicious but seriously strong cocktails, we were beckoned in for dinner. The restaurant itself was light and airy, with clean wooden chairs and tables, subtle and light, but yet a friendly and relaxed atmosphere. The bread was an indication what we were in for, nutty and heavily seeded, in was dense and delicious, served with freshly churned butter.
Our table of four decided that of course the taster menu was the option for us, an article of deep study for months beforehand. We started with a salad of fennel, lemon balm and pickled rose petals. Now, with this as the first course, I was pretty impressed, especially as something so leftfield as pickled rose petals had made an appearance so early on!
We argued the second offering might have just been the best item on the menu. This was innocently called “Ripe Tomato in it’s own juice” I couldn’t quite get my head around how this had been executed but Mr Dabbous himself had clearly taken quite a bit of time over this one: a slice of tomato, in a cool and clear tomato-scented water with a drop of basil oil glistening iridescently in the bowl. It was the most delicious and refreshing thing I have ever tasted.
Toasted sweetcorn with salted butter and meadowsweet was up next – and this really was a stroke of genius. I had never thought to add anything more that heaps of molten butter to a corn on the corn, stupidly presuming that the combination of butter, salt and pepper was the best that I could get. How wrong I was.
I had never tasted meadowsweet before and was completely flummoxed how it had passed me by.
“Filipendula ulmaria, commonly known as meadowsweet or mead wort, is a perennial herb in the family Rosaceae that grows in damp meadows. It is native throughout most of Europe and Western Asia (Near east and Middle east). It has been introduced and naturalised in North America.
The whole herb possesses a pleasant taste and flavour, the green parts having a similar aromatic character to the flowers, leading to the use of the plant as a strewing herb, strewn on floors to give the rooms a pleasant aroma, and its use to flavour wine, beer, and many vinegars. The flowers can be added to stewed fruit and jams, giving them a subtle almond flavour. It has many medicinal properties. The whole plant is a traditional remedy for an acidic stomach, and the fresh root is often used in infinitesimal quantities in homeopathic preparations. Dried, the flowers are used in pot pourri. It is also a frequently used spice in Scandinavian varieties of mead.” 1
It added a smoky yet subtle flavour to the corn, drawing scents from the hedgerow and it’s instant effect was for you to immediately take another bite, even before you had finished the first.
Monkfish was the next course, served with warm potted shrimp. This was melt in the mouth, succulent and perfectly cooked, accompanied by a little army of shrimps.
The meat course was roast veal fillet accompanied by summer vegetables, chrysanthemum and a light cheese broth. I was a little apprehensive of how this was going to work as I am not a fan of meat and cheese combined (I feel it is a little unnecessary having too such heavy proteins), but to my amazement, he pulled it off. The veal was cooked to perfection, lightly pink yet steaming hot, with an assortment of firm vegetables, a very light broth in the bowl to accompany the meat and a suggestion of chrysanthemum to complete the arrangement.
The burrata was an optional extra which we decided to share. In retrospect, it was a good plan as even though it is light, one was enough for 4 of us to taste. It was served with tamarillo and fennel pollen, a clean and simple dish, allowing for the fresh burrata flavour to be the star of the show.
We had realised now why this place had such a long waiting list for bookings, the food was incredible and fresh, especially during this blisteringly hot summer we have been treated too; this really was going to be a winner.
The next two courses really hit home how fantastic Dabbous’ innovative creations really are. In the same sense that the tomato in it’s own juice was as refreshing as lightly minted ice water on a scorching day, this next dish had the same effect: chilled lemon verbena infusion with cucumber and perilla – palate cleansing with a bright lemon scent to excite the tastebuds even further.
The final number was an orange blossom beignet, which in fact is a doughnut hole if we are going to break it down. Filled with orange blosson crème anglaise, it was an definitely “all-in-in-one” . A couple of fellow diners tried to be sophisticated and bite it elegantly but it was only a distraction to that it was meant to be enjoyed in one mouthful. Crispy on the outside and soft pillowy doughnut within, filled with a light cream and tiny flecks of black vanilla to add colour, it really was the perfect ending to a scrumptious supper.
To finish off, we were presented with marinated baby peaches, still green from the branch. Tender and soft, they really sealed the deal at the end of the adventure.
All in all, it completely lived up to it’s year long wait for a table and constant hype that everyone who was not lucky enough to have a table was subjected to. Light and modern, the food was simple and Dabbous ensured that every flavour worked hard to gain it’s place in the limelight. The lack of heavy creams and sauces made sure that you we still able to move after the 7 or so courses, and was very refreshing to have an option to a more healthy approach to eating out. I am glad to say that all the products used were produced in the UK, which also makes it one of the more eco-friendly restaurants out there. It’s a definite must for anyone who wants a traditional, yet innovation taste of Britain.
020 7323 1544 | 39 Whitfield Street London W1T 2SF | firstname.lastname@example.org.