Given how privileged you feel just to be walking through the door, it's hard not to be influenced by what you already know. The tasting menu also seems a must and at £54 it does seem a bargain. For a restaurant that has been open just seven months or so, it seems odd to be talking about 'classic' or 'signature' dishes already but what starts the meal is surely it: peas with mint. The intense flavour of the pea mousse is splendidly complimented by the textures of the actual peas and shoots and then having distracted you from the left, bam, the mint granita floors you from the right. It is a case of classic combinations cleverly reworked giving the meal an early wow factor.
I have significant issues about the next dish however: tomato in its own juices. Serving tomatoes, a tomato or part of a tomato as a dish, essentially on its own, is now a popular thing to do in restaurants but its popularity is rarely matched by the quality of the dish itself. It too often leaves you thinking little more than, okay, I've just eaten a tomato (and paid £7 for the privilege). The pea dish succeeds because on some level it reveals to you a previously undiscovered essence of pea, with part of the delight coming from your own surprise that a humble pea, after all the times you've eaten it, still has any revelation left. If there's no revelation, there's only a good pea, or here, a good tomato, and while I might be happy to wait a year for revelation, waiting a year for a good tomato would leave me both perplexed and a little sad. This dish to me felt like a good tomato.
Other key ideas on the website are: light, modern, clean flavours, seasonal ingredients and product driven. It sounds familiar to another recently opened restaurant and I impishly wonder if Mikael Jonsson now wishes that he had opened Hedone in Fitzrovia rather than Chiswick. Having eaten at both restaurants this summer, I must confess that it is Hedone that I would be more excited about returning to.
Dabbous is indeed a brilliant first restaurant by a still very young chef and there's no doubting the arrival of a new star in the London restaurant firmament. However, the words of Charles Mackay is his 1852 classic The Madness of Crowds come to mind when he says, 'we find that whole communities suddenly fix their minds upon one object, and go mad in its pursuit' and it is now harder to get a table at Dabbous than at any other restaurant in the country, including those of Brett Graham, Simon Rogan and the Rouxs.
In conclusion, I really enjoyed my meal at Dabbous but it is not, being honest, the best meal I have had in the UK this year. Furthermore, I have a feeling that had the booking been held a year for this, with expectation commensurately soaring, I would have still enjoyed the food but almost certainly would have been disappointed overall.
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