At long last the miserable weather is finally letting up and I can now start tending to my garden, which judging by the amount of greenery in it, is going to be no easy feat. Nonetheless, the summer also brings me back to writing after a short hiatus (I call it the winter hibernation). It must have been around this time last year that I called Dabbous for a reservation only to be told that the earliest dinner reservation was 10 months away and the earliest lunch reservation was 6 months away. Now, with figures such as this, ones curiosity takes a carte blanche and draws up all sorts of ideas, most of them geared to building you up for an epic disappointment. After all, with this much hype and publicity, a restaurant is sure to disappoint and you find that on the day of your lunch, you have resigned yourself to being let down.
The first dish of Hispi cabbage, smoked sunflower seed aioli was reminiscent of a dish at Noma in 2011, and had divided opinions across the table, but was a light and fresh appetiser rounded up entirely by the seeds.
Our second course of Braised celeriac in its own juices was, if you are a lover of celeriac/celery flavours as I am, uplifting and refreshing, as it was served cold. This dish, too, reminded me of a celeriac/celery combination that I once had at Viajante, which, too, was a memorable number.
Next up was the famed Coddled egg, woodland mushrooms and smoked butter that having been so over-hyped thanks t to various social media services, was a dish I convinced I would find myself criticising fiendishly. Unfortunately, like my fellow diners, I found myself happily indulging in a hearty and comforting plate of food that reminded me much of the pleasures of dipping my finger into a bowl of béarnaise and licking it. Now that I think of it, this coddled egg could be a great British challenger to the classic sauce béarnaise, combining two classic sauces (mushroom too!).
This only meant that the Halibut with coastal herbs found itself struggling to garner much praise. The tongue had been coated with unctuous umami-esque creamy, fatty egg, whilst the halibut was clean, light and delicate. It may have done well to reverse the order of the two.
Iberico prok with acorn praline stepped up the game, but wasn’t to my liking as I found the acorns too bitter (maybe it was because of dry acorn skin mixed in with the praline).
Fresh milk curds, winter vegetables, birch sap, toasted hay seemed to be more along the lines of yoghurt rather than milk curds as the texture was smooth and creamy, like yoghurt as opposed to crumbly and firm for curds. Although seemingly light, the addition of crosnes and chestnut, along with birch sap (divine!) made it a bit of a heavier dessert than one expected – delicious nonetheless.
The following dessert of Brioche soaked in chocolate, chocolate soil was even heavier and identical in texture to its predecessor and garnering disapproval from everyone.
So the final question is, was it worth it? While the ultra-hype surrounding Dabbous is inevitable, given its clever marketing technique through its reservations, Dabbous does serve up good food, settling in comfortably into the genre we have come to define as Modern British Cooking.
My rating: 7/10