By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Just a short walk around the corner from Goodge Street Underground Station, through the gaggle of workers spending the lunch rush congregated outside Tesco Express, turn the corner once more onto Whitfield Street and you’ll find Dabbous, one of Central London’s most celebrated restaurants. Well, after three strolls along the length of the street I eventually came across a heavy metal door, giving the ambience of one of London’s many derelict buildings, yet upon entering the meagre sized dining space is filled with suited business lunch diners and trendy couples. Inside, the raw industrial aesthetic is upheld, more Gotham City than Brooklyn Heights (something that far too many of the City’s restaurants are trying to channel).
To begin, If a scathing article filled with acerbic putdowns were what you’re looking for, I’d recommend visiting another writer’s account of Dabbous, although you will be hard-pushed to find one. The food on offer at Dabbous is simply remarkable. Not only does it justify the extreme difficulty of booking a table within the popular venue that holds a coveted Michelin Star: it also, completely, lives up to the high-praise that’s been bombarding chef Ollie Dabbous since the restaurant’s opening.
Beginning with Peas & Mint from the set lunch menu (four courses for £35), a dish that sounds unbelievably simple and even has its own inspired Cocktail available at the downstairs Oskar’s Bar until recently (here’s our recently featured recipe), highlighting just two simple ingredients, arriving at the table with an almost radioactive green hue, the bowl is filled with a warm soup-consistency of Peas, garnished with fresh Mint and a minty Sorbet that adds a slight change in texture as well as a cool element to the dish. The overall flavour is sensational. The Spring Onions served with Marigold Leaves, Lime, Pistachio and fresh Sheep Milk Curd is interesting, with its bottom layer evocative of an Indian sauce, whilesthe Hen of The Woods dish features slithers of Mushroom that adopt a consistency somewhere between a roasted Salmon fillet and a non-spongy mushroom, accompanied by smoky Pancetta, Lemon Thyme and Dandelions. Another solid example of the chef’s celebrated technique of selecting a mere few ingredients in order to craft a truly magnificent dish. My Grilled Lamb main is delicious, served pink atop a bed of minty Cous Cous that steals the show, and my companion’s Langoustine dish, served as four Prawn lollipops amongst a pool of home-made Mayonnaise, is also delightful. As for the dessert, a remarkably fresh Wild Strawberry Tart, filled with warm Crème Patisserie and encased in a buttery short crust while a selection of cheeses are joined by a Baked Apple and copious slices of Sourdough to accompany.
To overall experience at Dabbous is highly recommendable, the set-lunch offers remarkably good value for money, and the new “small plates” on offer in the downstairs Oskar’s Bar make Dabbous accessible to food enthusiasts from most walks of London life.
Dabbous can be found at 39 Whitfield Street, London, W1T 2SF.