I had heard a lot about Dabbous and many people - particularly the more conservative-chic ones - told me how great their experience was. I have just come from a rather disappointing tasting menu and can't share the excitement about this place. In short: the flavors were not well-balanced, the dishes were not breathtakingly innovative (as in places like Pollen Street) and the service was less than mediocre.
I was positively surprised by the price when I came in - just over 60 Pounds for a tasting menu in a starred restaurant was not too bad. Given the experience I had, however, I think even the 60 Pounds are not fully justified.
- While the first starter - raw scallops with eucalyptus - was an interesting taster of flavors - I think it is very bold (and bad-bold that is) to put a slice of tomato on a piece of roasted bread and make this a course in a tasting menu.
- I personally like the strong flavor of duck, but serving it in a broth with - admittedly interesting - home-made pasta without providing adequate (i.e. a fork) makes the whole experience less enjoyable. The cutlery-odysee continued over the next couple of courses.
- Part of the reason for some of the hiccups I think is the incredibly young (and potentially inexperienced?) team. At times, the service was attentive, but at others the 4 waiters were standing in a corner chatting. There was never even the slightest attend of helping us with the water as well.
- The one highlight in the menu were the two mains: a soft and flavorsome octopus with fennel was great and the veal was going down well with the cheese-broth (but again: dont you think I should have a knife to cut the veal?).
- The last bit of negative air was produced by the fact that we were basically speaking thrown out. I dont think that it is unusual that people have issues eating 8 courses in 2 hours. Dabbous should consider changing the seating times for sure.
- I unfortunately also dont have a lot of good things to say about the cocktails from downstairs: a lot of alcohol taste, the flavors again very imbalanced (can it ever be good when a cocktail tastes of hubba-bubba?).
- Dont get me started on the atmosphere - dark and gloomy, too loud music - not helpful with the food, particularly when one is barely able to navigate within the toilets...
I came with high expectations and they were not at the least fulfilled. The food is obviously decent, but in comparison to other London locations which are supposedly of the same standard, Dabbous is not worth the visit.