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Dabbous: Believe the Hype


I can’t bear hype. I don’t like to see trailers of films before I see them, I don’t want to know what happens in any book I read until I am actually reading it, and I don’t want to know the blow by blow detail of a tasting menu before I sit down and eat it. Invariably it takes something from the experience and leads to disappointment. Well, almost invariably.

Dabbous is the most hyped restaurant since Heston Blumenthal’s Dinner opened last year. Everyone has been or wants to go. Everyone is moaning that there are no dinner tables available until 2013 (!). The critics are lauding it. head chef Ollie Dabbous is being heralded as a great new talent. His pedigree is impressive with time spent at Le Manoir, Texture and Hibiscus.


So, I was worried. How could anything or anyone live up to this?

Regardless I wanted to try. Pictures on twitter of coddled eggs and other loveliness were like breadcrumbs for Hansel & Gretel. I couldn’t get in for dinner but I prefer lunch anyway so I booked and waited, and then we finally went.

We started with a cocktail in the bar, an underground space all grey and metal, and very quiet, we were the only people there. A Dillusion for me, bright green with Bombay Sapphire Gin, elderflower cordial, cucumber, dill, lemon and sugar, this was a great pre lunch tipple.

We moved for lunch to the bright upstairs restaurant, opting for the tasting menu at £49 a head at lunchtime. We decided not to go for matching wines (next time!) but went instead for wines by the carafe. We started with a white Torrontes from Argentina at £14.50 a carafe. Then the food started to come.

Olives at Dabbous

All worry faded quietly as I quickly realised that this was very good. Very, very good and utterly deserving of all of the hype.

Fresh warm homemade bread at Dabbous

Olives, freshly churned butter and warm bread were delivered to the table. The bread was in a brown paper bag, so that when you opened it, it was like the bakery had come to your table.

Peas & mint

The first dish was peas with mint. Glorious, fresh, creamy and with bite. It was one of my favourite dishes of our lunch.

Mixed alliums in a pine infusion was fresh and bright.

Mixed alliums in a pine infusion

Mixed alliums in a pine infusion

Coddled free range hens egg with woodland mushrooms and smoked butter was like a blanket on the worst day of the year, with your favourite film too. Gorgeous & a little decadent whilst being simple. I lost sleep over this dish – literally – as I stayed up too late that night looking online for an egg coddler. Which I now have, so watch this space for coddled eggs soon.

Coddled egg with woodland mushrooms and smoked butter

Grilled halibut, iodised sour cream, beetroot and watercress stems was fresh and lovely but a little over shadowed by our previous dish. Still, pleasant and nothing in particular to complain about.

Grilled halibut, iodised sour cream, beetroot and watercress stems

Barbecued iberico pork, savory acorn praline, turnip tops, homemade apple vinegar demanded a switch to red wine and so we ordered a carafe of Fleurie for £19. The pork was intensely meaty and dark, like red and the acorn praline perhaps betraying Ollie Dabbous time in Hibiscus as the last time I had something similar, Claude Bosi cooked it. This was a terrific dish.

Barbecued iberico pork, savory acorn praline, turnip tops, homemade apple vinegar

We opted for the plate of artisanal cheese from the British isles at a £9 supplement. Small nuggets of well chosen and aged cheese were a lovely breather after the pork. The baked apple was much more satisfying than a chutney.

Artisanal cheese from the British isles

The iced lovage palate cleanser was polarising. I quite liked its grassiness, it reminded me of exam time at school and looming summer. My friend didn’t like it at all.

Iced lovage

Dessert was a terrific almost savoury dessert of chocolate ganache, basil moss, sheep’s milk ice cream which was texturally fantastic with a lovely chocolate meringue nestling with the moss and ice cream.

Chocolate ganache, basil moss, sheep’s milk ice cream

We finished with a gorgeous little beeswax canele with a cherry on top.

Beeswax caneles with cherry on top

Head turned, I asked when I could come back. They are booked up forever at this point, and even further now. The manager tells me that while they are booked up there are often cancellations and sometimes walk ins are possible. I mentioned it to a friend who didn’t believe me, but was then delighted when she tried and it turned out to be true. So I will try that.

I am surprised that not many are mentioning the bar. With its own menu featuring crispy chicken wings with fenugreek and toasted garlic (£5), homemade black pudding with mango chutney and a fried organic hen egg (£9) and open steak sandwich with tobacco butter and onions pickled in wheat beer (£14) and that cocktail list. I will try it properly soon and report back.

Dabbous, 39 Whitfield St, London, W1T 2SF, 0207 3231544



Filed under: Random


Cooking and travelling, and sharing it all with you.


  1. Christopher says

    Difficult to believe that they are booked until 2013 because I’ve just tried to book online for September for lunch and got a message saying that my booking date exceeded their time limits!

    • Well that is what I was told, maybe they have imposed that since. It is booked for dinner only until then, it is easier to get a lunch reservation although you still have to wait months.

      • Christopher says

        No. Tell us about yourself! You may not be the sort of person anyone wants to have lunch or dinner with. Or you may be exactly the sort of person everyone wants to have lunch or dinner with! But how do we know if we do not know anything about you?

  2. Awww man! London must be a wonderful place to live :) The awesomeness of BBC Sherlock and all these gorgeous restaurants :) I love your descriptive comments for each dish, and I really like your choice of dishes, so artistic and tasty-looking!

    • Hi Tina! The dishes were the tasting menu, but they were fabulous. London is a great city to live in, we are lucky :)

  3. Dangerous to read your blog when I’m hungry; anything I eat afterwards is almost bound to be a disappointment!

  4. I’ve got a dinner booking for September (was lucky enough to get a cancellation) and am SO excited. I think the 12 week thing is for online bookings only. I think you can ring up/email for reservations further in advance.

  5. Hi Niamh…have been reading your blog & loving it for so long, with its gorgeous photography…but this is the first time I’ve dared to comment! I have just had my second dinner at Dabbous – the first time we had the tasting menu, the 2nd we went a la carte. It is simply superb, I agree. As someone who has always loathed & abhored eggs in their ‘whole’ form (I don’t mind them as an ingredient) it is a mark of Oliver Dabbous’ amazing skills that I scraped out the shell of the coddled egg the first time, and chose it again the second having dreamed of it in the intervening weeks!
    The couple next to us the second night had just walked in on the offchance, so it does indeed work. And I think dinner is booked until February….so either that or the bar menu is probably the only way for now! Great review & photos.

    • Well hello Rachel! In that case it is especially lovely to hear from you. I definitely want to try a walk in – or several – soon and also the bar. Must be done.

      So glad you like the review and the photos :)

    • You have Sat Bains! So no complaining :) Seriously, one of the best meals I have eaten.

  6. The Fingal Foodie says

    The restaurant looks fabulous (your photography skills help, I’m sure!). I’ll have to see if they have a booking the next time I’m in London, which coincidentally will be after 2013.

    • Very kind. If you want to get in for dinner, it would probably be best you booked now (really!). Enjoy.

    • That is a bit of a silly thing to say. These are excellent cheeses, well sourced and aged perfectly. Cheap cheese is bad cheese.

    • It is for one person. More than this would be way too much. It is part of a tasting menu not a la carte. On that note, I must say I do find portions at home (in Ireland) generally excessive so perhaps using Irish portions as a barometer I could see why you would think so.

      Personally, £9 for 4 excellent cheeses as part of a tasting menu, at that portion, is absolutely fine by me. I think well priced. As was the tasting menu at £49. There is a reason why it is impossible to get a booking.

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Over to you! Your comments - I would love to hear from you :)