Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Dabbous - London, England

Meet London's newest highly acclaimed restaurant, Dabbous. Foodies crush on them, reviewers adore them, in-flight magazines feature them. This media hype makes Dabbous superbly sought after. When I last checked, they were booked for dinner until March, 2013. Lunch is more accessible, the bar even more so.
When we walked in, I asked if there were any walk-in tables available. The main restaurant only has 14 tables, so spots are at a premium. However, sometimes people cancel last minute or don't arrive, and others eat faster than expected. Keep that in mind for the future. The upstairs was full, so we headed downstairs. As you can see, the bar was pretty quiet. Given our choice of varied seating (benches, low chairs, and bar), we chose the bar. My friend encouraged this since I'm given to asking questions and enjoy watching cocktails prepared.
Charlie, our main bartender, handed us our menus. The bar menu is cocktail focused, so if you're hungry, look at the very last page. Otherwise, enjoy perusing their selection of martini cocktails, long drinks, short drinks, beer cocktails, spirits, wine, and more. I began the evening with two inquiries - what can you tell me about your cigar syrup and what is Greengage liqueur? Without prompting, I was immediately sampled on both. Then I learned the chefs make the cigar syrup process easy, though it sounds involved. And that Greengage liqueur is a slightly bitter green plum liqueur.
My friend started with the Giddy Up. It features Tapatio Blanco Tequi;a, elderflower cordial, bramley & Gage Slider, lemon juice and camomile-infused acacia honey and was topped with Sierra Nevada IPA. We were both impressed with the silver stein.
After sampling the cigar syrup, I wanted to try a cocktail featuring it. This is the Mellow Yellow with Tapatio Blanco Tequila, cigar syrup and lime juice mellowed by yellow pepper and served in an Ardberg whisky rinsed Martini glass. The yellow pepper smell was the most prominent feature as you lifted the glass to sip. Then a bit of sourness came through, followed by a slight smoky finish and gritty finish (tobacco leaves from cigar syrup process). The bell pepper taste lingers. My favorite tastes were when I rolled in around and let it settle in the back.
We decided upon a three course approach to dinner this evening. The bar menu has a limited selection from the main restaurant's starters, mains, and dessert menus. We ordered 5 of the 8 selections available. This is the Coddled free range hen egg with woodland mushrooms and smoked butter. It is coddled and then is returned into the shell where it sits in a lovely nest. This dish invoked some memories of my grandparents's farm, working during a sunny day throwing hay bales onto the trailer. It was a delightful savory warmth.
Afterward, we split the Barbecued Iberico pork, savory acorn praline, turnip tops, homemade apple vinegar. The pork was so rich. The nutty meal tempered with some sweetness was the perfect accompaniment. The turnip tops in vinegar were a great snack to reset our palate between bites.
We finished our meal with Artisanal cheese from the British Isles, baked apple and toasted sourdough. They ranged in texture and flavor. 3 out of the 4 were from the UK, one from Ireland. The baked apple tasted like toffee and the toasted sourdough featured figs. I also appreciated the slate board presentation.
And I did have one more drink. I asked about a bottle behind the bar I hadn't seen before and sampled it. It was Kamm & Sons ginseng spirit, a bitter herbaceous spirit similar to bonal gentine, but much stronger. The Roots Manuka is pictured above. It features Kammerlings Ginseng Spirit, Qi Orange Tea Liqueur, manuka honey, rhubarb bitters, lemon and guava. The sweetness from the guava hits you first and lingers there. The bitterness comes in the middle and barely wins in the end. I would have preferred a more bitter forward drink and less guava.
The 4th and 5th items we had were the Nocellara del Belice green olives (wonderfully meaty) and the Roast cashew nuts with smoked salt (no distinguishing characteristics). These were enjoyed before, throughout, and after the meal.

Overall, we had a great time downstairs. The bar staff was very friendly and helpful. They must have been bored because they were running through a list of Robin Williams' films including Mork & Mindy, Jumanji, Flubber (I suggested she sees the original), and Good Will Hunting. As we were leaving, I even got some tips from the restaurant manager on how to get a table in the next two weeks. Are you interested as I am?

39 Whitfield Street,

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