Dabbous: is it still worth the wait?
|Dabbous: Smoked Halibut and Pickled Celeriac|
I loved my first visit to Dabbous, finding the food incredibly refreshing and light and, in general, that deft touch remains today. The tasting menu I had this week contained only one repeat dish from my first visit (the final dessert), although I was secretly hoping that the coddled egg would be on the offer again (it was sadly taken off just before Christmas). This time around, I found the menu slightly disjointed, with some quite heavy courses (such as the Mash & Gravy) feeling a little out of place next to some of the lighter courses such as the delightful avocado starter, which I think is where the chef excels.
|Dabbous: Course 1 Avocado, Basil and Almonds in Chilled Fig Leaf Broth; Course 3 Mash & Gravy|
Course two kept to the deft touch with smoked halibut (first picture). They weren't shy in the smoking of the fish which I liked. The celeriac was cut into long julienne and stayed crunchy thanks to the light pickling. I wasn't quite sure what the perfectly boiled egg was doing there (that yolk looks like a stunning Machiavelli to me), but I enjoyed it nonetheless.
|Dabbous: Course 4 Cod wrapped in wood shavings with honey and turnip dressing. Course 5 (lower right): Roast goose with birch sap and white miso|
In contrast, the next fish course was so gently cooked, the meat could be flaked apart with the gentlest of touches. It was presented encased in the overlapping wood shavings which we unfolded and dressed with a blob of the honey and turnip dressing. Delicate flavours that didn't overwhelm the cod.
|Dabbous: Dessert 1 Yorkshire Rhubarb with Lavender and Ice Lettuce; Dessert 2: Chocolate & Hazelnut Ganache, basil moss, sheep's milk ice-cream|
Desserts saw us back in more familiar territory. Thinly sliced sweetly sharp rhubarb was bathed in a light infusion with the flavours occasionally interrupted by bursts of lavender. We flirted with grandma's soap territory here, but the slight citric tang from the ice lettuce kept us reasonably grounded. We rounded things off with the final dessert of Chocolate and Hazelnut Ganache with Basil Moss and Sheep's Milk Ice Cream. This beautifully constructed dish is a dense, rich finale to the meal. The freshness of the herbs (dill and basil) counter the ganache, while the ice-cream has a measured sourness.
There's a comfortable assuredness to Dabbous which makes it an enjoyable place to while away a few hours (we spent about three hours there without any pressure to move on). It's a well oiled machine with friendly, knowledgeable service on both the food and wine front. We drank a light and well matched carafe of Pinot Blanc from the Alsace (£15) and a few glasses of Jurancon (£7 each) with dessert. While the price of the tasting menu has crept up a smidge over the last two years it's still a relative bargain at £59 for the seven courses. With the wine, the meal came to £315 for four of us. Although there were a few courses that I didn't love, Dabbous continues to create some interesting (this is not a euphemism for bad!) food.
|Dabbous: Coddled egg with smoked butter and mushrooms (from my first visit)|