Dabbous

39 Whitfield Street, Fitzrovia, London, W1T 2SF - View on a map
Telephone: 020 7323 1544

Dabbous Restaurant In London
Details Image
Overall 3.3
Food 5.0
Service 4.0
Atmosphere 3.0
Value 1.0
Based on 1 reviews

what the critics say

Metro

Andy Lynes - 5/5

Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - The idea of peas with mint as a starter might not set the heart racing but the dish itself is a real pulse-quickener. The small earthenware bowl of pea mousse topped with mint granita, fresh peas in the pod and pea shoots is a riot of intense flavour. The humble vegetable has never tasted as good as this...Making a clear broth from goats’ cheese sounds utterly bonkers, if not virtually impossible, but they pull it off with elan here, serving it with a pink-roasted veal rump, lightly cooked summer vegetables and chrysanthemum leaves. It looks unassuming but tastes outstanding.

Telegraph

Zoe Williams - 4/5

Monday, June 04, 2012 - The pork had been bath-cooked, we thought, then seared at the end. It had all that intensity of cured Iberico pork, without the curing. The hickory punch seemed to come mainly from the almonds, and was delicate and sophisticated in a way that, after a lifetime of BBQ sauce, you simply could not anticipate. Some turnip tops in apple vinegar cut through the whole thing playfully, but not so as to distract...Very occasionally it was a bit arty for my tastes but, mainly, what a place.

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Saturday had come around more quickly than usual this week, so quickly in fact that neither of us had planned much for in the wake! Saturday dinner however was taken care of thanks to an old friend of mine who earlier in the week had offered me his reservation at a well spoken of restaurant in Fitzrovia run by a young Frenchman. So as Saturday evening marched towards us we headed out with a healthy dollop of excitement adjourned with a curious reduction to Dabbous on Whitfield Street.

Upon entering we are greeted by the male maitre dee, who is evidently lacking in both charisma and warmth. His face cracks as we explain that we are early by some 30 minutes and therefore would like to grab a cocktail downstairs before dinner. There is a mixture of some pained emotion on his face as he fains indifference and ushers us downstairs. 'I'll come and get you in half an hour'. The atmosphere is weirdly forced.

The basement bar at Dabbous is the more casual cousin of the upstairs restaurant. It really works well and the service is relaxed, warm and insightful. My belvedere dirty martini hits the spot and is quite literally perfect, right down to precisely placed single but huge Sicilian olive and the beautiful glassware. We are feeling more relaxed now and I am tempted to try the barrel aged Negroni but revert to ordering another martini as the first was so good. I am starting to think that this restaurant is really worth the 3 month wait for a table that my friend had endured, when the atmosphere sours for the second time as we are sort of cajoled by the maitre dee who is now downstairs and has apparently come to collect us for dinner. More face cracking as we explain that we will come upstairs on our own steam in some minutes.

As we enter the restaurant 10 minutes later it is 8pm and some 35% of tables are empty. The place is small and we are seated next to another couple so close that our elbows are almost touching and we certainly can hear each other conversation. The decor is industrial and modern which we like however the building itself is not industrial nor modern, more Georgian and so the exposed extractor ducts, the unpolished concrete and metal coat racks just serve to add to the awkwardness of the place. It's plainly trying so damn hard to look like its in the East End, or the Meatpacking district, but the costume does little to support the character.

And so to the food. We order the seven course tasting menu and order a bottle of 2008 Chambolle Musigny. The wine is superb and served at the perfect temperature. The first of our starters come out : 'Celeriac, muscat grapes, lovage and hazelnuts' although the they kindly prepared mine without the latter due to my nut allergy. This dish really impresses despite its rather clumsy presentation. The flavours are balanced but significant and identifiable and the sweetness of the grapes cuts beautifully through. We get excited at the prospect of six more dishes at this level. Next comes the 'Raw scallop with eucalyptus' and now we are transfixed. This dish is inventive and surprising on taste and texture levels. The ice cold raw scallop is actually hidden beneath some nitrogenized ice flavored with the eucalyptus and is just a lovely thing to eat. Clean, simple and exciting! The 'Acorn flour noodles in a duck and fenugreek broth' come next but disappoint. The noodles are overcooked, soggy even, and the duck and fenugreek broth is really a mild duck consomme. It lacks all the depth and character that a broth should be shouting, and the fenugreek flavor is absent. Onwards to the 'Octopus with tamara, potatoe and fennel'. This is the point in the evening where it started to go horribly wrong in both culinary and service aspects. There is one main ingredient in this dish that is served in such enthusiastic proportions that it should not only feature in the description but be capitalized too: TARAMA! This is the more difficult to find white Tarama and seems to be mixed with some Mayonnaise as the prevailing taste is egg mixed with roe. It serves only to render any other flavor or texture completely redundant. The portion of octopus, not exactly an expensive ingredient, is measly and dwarfed by the generous potato offering which is also overcooked and overly starchy. The fennel by comparison is a welcome counter balance and has been cut thinly and blanched in stock, but frankly looses its battle early on to the overpowering tarama / mayonnaise taste that sets up camp on the back of the tongue and hangs stubbornly around for hours.

We explained to service of our confusion in regard to the last dish and asked about the use of mayonnaise which they confirmed, only then to make false promises of letting Ollie Dabbous, who could clearly be seen in the kitchen, have the feedback. When the 'Barbecued leg of lamb, smoked kelp and pickled aubergine' arrived to the table I was still outside smoking. Further disappointment ensued when I returned, to see that there was a large blob of, albeit homemade and accented with miso, mayonnaise in the dish?!! For a brief second we reflected was a joke? But no such luck. The service clearly hadn't given the previous feedback to the kitchen and we were left to eat around the mayonnaise. If we hadn't been so hungry we would have sent it back, but such is the small proportions of dishes at Dabbous that it only takes a couple of mouthfuls and you've eaten most of it.

As with all courses we were asked by our server to feedback, and so we again mentioned the mayonnaise issue. There was a comment about 'As winter is now upon us Chef is trying to bring more warmth to the menu' which is a novel use of mayonnaise in anyone book I would say.

The 'Poached quince with mead, chestnuts and lemon thyme' was a complete disaster. Lesley's quince was so hard that it almost lept of the plate as the spoon failed to penetrate it. The chestnuts puree was bland and unpleasant, the mead was overly sweet. We didn't finish this dish, one mouthful was already too much. The last dessert was a return to the form of the two starters and quite delicious. 'Marjoram ice cream, celery and rose petals proved to be balanced, clean and interesting, with the subtle majoram flavor and celery leaving ample room for the petals to deliver their floral high notes. We were glad to be able to talk passionately and positively again to the service team.

Overall the service was ok at Dabbous. Definitely not a polished production, more a high school musical of some promise, but we left feeling that it lacked soul, and presence. The bill came in at £181 for the food and water and £114 for the wine and cocktails. So £295 for the two of us and without any attempt to either reduce or offer a drink on the house for the errors. This paid dividends to the undercurrent of arrogance that we had started to detect and left us doubtful for a return visit. This restaurant has had rave reviews from some hefty critics so it's entirely possible that we caught Dabbous on a bad night, but there really is no excuse for service that ignores feedback and carries on regardless. Lets see whether they hang on to their star the next time Michelin pay a surprise visit. I'm betting they don't.

Food 5/10. Service 4/10. Drinks 8/10. Cocktails 9/10.
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chris dawson
Overall rating 3 stars
Food 5 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 3 | Value for money 1
Sunday, October 12, 2014

I found the service to be very friendly and efficient. However, the food was extremely disappointing, definitely a case of style over substance. The hen's egg was delicious and would have been a lovely amuse bouche. The braised halibut was pretty bland, swimming in a cream sauce. The Iberian pork had been initially cooked in a water bath (sous vide) but was tough and it's only saving grace was the nice smokey taste. It was served with turnip tips which were very stringy and undercooked so difficult to chew, and flavoured with apple cider vinegar which I found to be slightly too acidic. The chocolate brioche was nice but served with a barley malt ice cream which was unpleasant. All in all, I did not feel I had one decent course and felt cheated having spent £119 for two with only one glass of wine. Dabbous reminded me of Hedone in Chiswick which also received rave reviews but fails to deliver a satisfying meal.
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londongal - View all reviews by this user
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 5 | Service 7 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 3
Friday, December 07, 2012

Interesting that the recent reviews for this restaurant are a lot worse than the original ones. We went this week and were incredibly disappointed. Booked a table for 4 for 8.30pm - finally seated at 9.50pm - can only assume that some VIP came in and wanted a table. Front of house service was inept, Somelier not great (recommended a "crisp" Sauternes that was anything but) and food a mixed bag. Haddock and Pork very good but desserts (my favourite bit) very disappointing.

We will not be going back and would strongly encourage others not to bother.
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Overall rating 4 stars
Food 6 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 4
Monday, November 12, 2012

really great food. tasting menu is very interesting and cleverly done

very disappointing service, waitstaff clearly not briefed on the content of dishes or how to serve wine correctly. poor cocktails

hostess chewing gum all night and playing with her hair looking bored

for the price charged it was very bad value for money

Even worse was the very poor follow up service when I emailed to give some feedback - not even as much as an acknowledgement of my email.

The owners obviously think being booked out forever will keep their reputation intact.

Sort it out please!
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S Brady
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 8 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 4
Monday, November 05, 2012

I found Dabbous to be a little disappointing. Maybe my expectations were too high but for a restaurant that is fully booked until Sep 2013 you do expect something a little more than an above average dinner.

We had the tasting menu with accompanying wine. The food was interesting and very well presented but the taste didn't match. Most of the times we were not told which wines we were drinking as some random waiter would just pour us a glass. Often the wine would come quicker than the food and we ended up with 4 different glasses of wine in front of us not knowing which went for which dish ...that was until the dessert where they forgot our dessert wine and we had to remind them.

On a positive note, the bar downstairs serves some of the best drinks i have ever tasted and i would be happy to come back for more of those but i wont be eating at Dabbous again.
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Overall rating 6 stars
Food 5 | Service 4 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 5
Sunday, September 23, 2012

not really a place that needs another good review but if you manage to get in it is quite obvious as to why there are no available reservations until spring 2013 .

it really is exceptional and sadly very small ( 40 covers i think ) .

The hens egg and BBQ iberico pork were stand out dishes for me , the service faultless and friendly ( from a very young team ) , the wine list reasonable and the bar is fantastically well stocked with premium spirits .

It isn't quite as cheap as it looks as you do end up ordering a few dishes but for the quality I haven't found anywhere better value in London .

AA Gill was right to give it 5 stars .
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shane
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9
Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fabulous food served by very young, friendly knowledgeable staff. I particularly liked the sommelier, though I was concerned about how he kept up with all his schoolwork AND know so much about wine. At £49 for the tasting menu, sans frou-frou between course thingies, I thought it was good value for the standard of fare on offer. Wasn't too sure about the alliums course and the iced lovage I could take or leave, but the halibut, the iberico pork, the pea and mint - all so, so good.

They also very sweetly picked up on my birthday/Dabbous tweet and brought me Champagne and a birthday cream cake at the end of the meal.

Is it worth being booked up months and months ahead? Possibly not. But it is very, very good indeed.
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WalshyMK
Overall rating 9 stars
Food 9 | Service 9 | Atmosphere 9 | Value for money 9
Monday, May 14, 2012

How much you enjoy this restaurant will very much depend on what you expect from it before going in, and how much you're willing to spend. Let me explain...

I'd heard from a couple of people, and a few reviews that Dabbous was incredibly good value for money. Indeed from looking at the menus, you'd conclude this was probably the case with starters around £6 and mains around £14; however what isn't so obvious is that they generally recommend "4-7 dishes each" -That means 3 or 4 starters and 2 or 3 mains, or £100+ per person on food alone - For us, what was intended to be a nice night out with friends, turned in to a serious budget buster!. So that's the bad news - Set your budget expectations to high!

The number of dishes also reflects the size of them - Make no mistake, this is designer cuisine - Now I wasn't being entirely naive food-wise, and have been to places like Viajante, and knew of Texture, but was expecting something a little more like North Road than either of these (ok, maybe that was naive). The food was for the most part really very good - The asparagus was firm and tender, the beef tartar succulent, and the hen's egg absolutely incredible. Likewise the potatoes were superb - For me what was less good was the Squid, the sauce for which was a tad too fishy for my tastes, and lamb main, which was a thin rubbery sliver of lamb belly; the texture of which (ironically) was entirely unappetising. The other main of Iberico Pork was really very good, and was the one i'd been most looking forward to - It's rare to eat pork pink, but apparently it's perfectly OK,and this was superb! My partner's Halibut was apparently also very good. As for the desserts, i'm not sure we should have bothered - Iced Loveage tastes like Celery sorbet (yuck!), and chocolate with basil and Dill is really quite vile.

Finally, I guess service and ambience - Well it's a bit like being in a concrete bunker above ground, in Shoreditch - Extend the metaphor to the service and you're there.. Nice, friendly, and efficient, but somewhat affected..

Apparently they're booked for dinner now till August - Personally it's style above substance at a price point that's hard to justify in this economy, and i'd be surprised if they see out the end of the year - I don't wish failure upon any business, but I can't this is sustainable - still, the London market is remarkably resilient, especially when it comes to pretentious, expensive food!
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Digitalgoldfish
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 4 | Value for money 3
Monday, March 26, 2012

It was my wife's birthday treat. Originally we were going to have the set lunch at Texture restaurant - (it got very positive reviews various websites - and the food sounded intriguing)

However, after reading recent rave reviews about Dabbous in the Evening Standard - we changed our reservation. Add to this, the fact that the main man, Oli Dabbous, used to work at Texture - it all seemed to fit into place perfectly.

The most important factor however was the set lunch had a more interesting mix of dishes.

Dabbous is very understated, chilled out and relaxed - bare pipes, bare walls, lots of metal on show. However - it is still cozy in a stylish, industrial way. ALL the staff were very amiable, helpful and charming. The dining area is small enough to feel personal too. Service was friendly and never overbearing. Theres also a good basement bar too serving some unusual cocktails. Add to this a reasonably priced wine list. Fitzrovia is a interesting part of London. Its easily accessible by car, and you can park there for free after 6.30pm. - Sorted.

At £24 each - the four course set lunch is good value. No amuse bouche or pre-desserts just four courses.

First up - warm tasty, sourdough bread with hazelnuts and homemade butter, olives unusually served in a dated-stamped paper bag. Great! It got our tastebuds going.

You get a choice of 2 dishes per course. My wife and I ordered all eight - and shared everything.

Course One Fennel salad with picked rose petals OR Beef Tartare Both great. (the tartare is infused with cigar oil )

Course Two Monkfish Cheeks (love the artichokes served with this) OR Veal Cheeks with Spelt in a broth both fantastic.

Course Three Poached Salmon in buttermilk broth (one of the best salmon dishes Ive had) OR Pork Belly on a bed of

savoury acorn praline with turnip tops and apple vinegar. (Best dish of the meal absolutely loved it the acorns tasted like peanuts the dish just melted in your mouth.) I could eat two of these.

Course Four Barley flour sponge soaked in red tea with vanilla cream or a selection of four cheeses served with baked apple and walnut toast. (Again thumbs up all round)

The portions arent huge but they never are at these sort of restaurants.

My only criticism would be, shame about the £5 supplement on the cheese course if in doubt, incorporate another dessert without the additional payment. Anyhow all 4 cheeses were very good so we were happy enough.

Weve been to lots of Michelin star restaurants for a set lunches this was as good - and in many cases BETTER than most. At this rate its only a question of time before Dabbous gets its own Michelin star.

Whether or not Dabbous wants the extra pressure that comes with a Michelin star - I dont know, they might have to learn to deal with it its only been open 2 weeks and so far, its thumbs all round.

Before we left, we booked-up another meal for my birthday in May next time round well be having the evening Tasting Menu. We dont consider ourselves experts, just enthusiastic foodies who enjoy a good meal out.

We think Dabbous ROCKS and really liked it . Cant wait to return.
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Keith and Alejandra Young
Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 9
Monday, February 13, 2012

Great space. Great service. Great food. This place is perfect! A great addition to the London restaurant scene.
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Overall rating 10 stars
Food 10 | Service 10 | Atmosphere 10 | Value for money 8
Sunday, February 12, 2012

what the bloggers say

Cheese and Biscuits

Cheese and Biscuits - 9/10

Wednesday, April 18, 2012 - 'Coddled' egg was up next, and is best described as God's own scrambled egg. The egg itself (one of those fancy rare breed ones I should imagine) provided a powerful base, but the real fireworks came with the addition of earthy wild mushrooms and a hint of fireplace from the smoked butter. As well as tasting so good we couldn't stop giggling, it was very prettily presented in a half-shell nestled in hay and coloured by a few teeny bits of chopped chives. Dabbous had most definitely hit its stride, and we were helpless to resist...The highlights of this meal - every course from the coddled egg to the Iberico pork inclusive - rank up there with anything else you can pay for in London.

London Eater

London Eater

Saturday, February 04, 2012 - I chose the iberico pork loin. I cut into it and my hand trembled - wow. Dense but soft, juicy but chewable, pink but cooked all the way through. How did he do it? There wasn't any hint of smoke, how did he bbq a side of pork so gently?...With Dabbous, I feel there is a clear focus. The food certainly entralls and Ollie may be the one who come closests in transitioning this type of uber-cool dining to the mainstream (if there is such a thing as mainstream haute cuisine..)

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