Don’t get me wrong, I do like it, they’re doing it very well (not to mention London's massive obsession with burgers), but as time goes on, I sometimes yearn for something a little more… refined.
All of the hip restaurants do not serve food that is so simple that we could do it ourselves – there is of course, a lot of skill in what they do and the devising of delicious menus, but for once I’d like to go to a restaurant that’s not ‘nostalgic’ or being cool purely because of the fact that they serve once very unfashionable and cheap cuts of meat with large markups.
The casual attitude to food, presentation and everything else is very cool at the moment, but why? So they put their menu on tracing paper and put their wine in chipped builders mugs, fair enough, but the hipsters come in their drones and enthuse about how it’s so cool and ‘making a statement’ and then about this corned beef hash that was 'AMAZING' (your mum used to make you eat it and you HATED IT and you probably wouldn’t eat it again if you hadn’t read about it in that blog).
It feels like there is far too much of this 'quick fix, flavour hit' culture (strong, spicy or barbeque flavours). People take pride in having some 'filthy' ribs or pulled pork. It's almost been reduced to recreate a dirty kebab experience, on a sofa in a dingy bedsit. It's like they're trying to recreate the pot noodle ad by HHCL (ad agency) which famously got banned because they touted it as 'the slag of all snacks', with the no-bookings, communal dining and even sometimes feeling like you are in a school canteen.
Perhaps that’s why Dabbous is so popular now: The formality of booking (there’s a 3-month waiting list currently) which is something of a rarity in new restaurants opening in Central London currently, coupled with the fact that the food is beautifully presented with more than a nod to fine dining. And it’s so cheap (which is another thing about gourmet comfort food these days. It’s expensive). So restaurateurs thinking of starting up a business, the market is already saturated with comfort food. Try something a bit different, with formality and food delicately presented on a plate. I’m not talking haute cuisine, I just wish that going out to dinner affordably could be more comfortable, and that it could feel like more of an occasion. Without 4-month-long queues.