Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Dabbous Review

Dabbous was predictably, brilliant. I'm not going to harp on about the food too much because you've all read a million blogs and newspaper reviews, but if you do want to read a blow-by-blow account, it is very easy to find one.

dabbous bread bag, dabbous bread
Because you need to see another
picture of the bag of bread
The Service
Service is one of my favourite topics - because I have been to so many restaurants and because I have worked in so many restaurants, I have devoted a lot of time to thinking about it. What I noticed from the second I walked in (well, more dripped, because it was very rainy) was how welcome I was made to feel. And not the standard, soo lovely to see you, insincere spiel, but genuine smiles and even some mild 'banter' (for want of a better word). From being shown down to the bar and being brought cocktail menus by one of the bar staff to the table, it struck me what a good balance they had.

They weren't overly nice, they weren't overly stiff and formal and yet for what you pay, it's service of a standard that you would expect in a restaurant that charges much more. It's something that's accessible and really lovely. I suppose that is why they are so popular - you experience a really special meal for a fraction of the price that you would pay anywhere else - even somewhere not half as special.

I've never been to a restaurant that was so cool there was a 3-month waiting list (well, that was when I booked - now you can't even get lunch 'til 2013), and that was so relatively new. What's great is that I was excited to go, as opposed what I normally do - just decide a week or even a night or two before, because it's all casual now. What's not so great is that the anticipation is so high that you sit there, and sort of think, 'I should be enjoying myself MORE.' I was very aware of the amount of time for which I had waited for the table, and how much I was taking in the ambience, the food, the endless charm...

dabbous meal, iberico pork, dabbous
Iberico pork: Absolute stand-out
What I liked:
  • The complimentary olives, which were a far cry from pimento-stuffed Crespo olives.
  • The iberico pork main course - cooked so well, and so barbequey without any trace of gloopy 'bbq' sauce.
  • Ok, so like everyone else, the coddled hen's egg. So much flavour, well executed, the smell of the hay in which it was nestled...
  • The service (I'll say it again, it was very good).
  • The room. It's industrial and cool, but it's warm and inviting simultaneously, somehow, and the bar is a weird but cool room (I resisted the urge to pretend I didn't know my dining companion as she kept saying 'it's a great space' in a knowing, architecty way. She's not an architect).
  • The chocolate ganache. Decadent and so chocolatey, without being too chocolatey.
What I didn't like:
  • The loos. Couldn't see a thing. Which is a small point, but if I were on a date, I'd like to be able to check up on my face.
  • The bread in a bag. It's a nice touch having the date on it, but as far as I'm concerned, bread in a bag is an unnecessary quirk.
  • Iced lovage. It was always going to have a mixed reception and I did kind of enjoy it, but my tastebuds were constantly confused eating it, because it was a bit like celery but sweeter and I'm not sure I liked it.
  • That age-old problem - they left us to enjoy our wine without trying to rush us away, BUT when it came to asking to the bill, they were a little too hard to catch without standing up and making a fanfare.
However, these are small points and for the most part, I had a truly great meal and the food, staff and ambience were of a standard that far surpassed the prices.

Dabbous on Urbanspoon Square Meal

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