The menu veers from absolute brilliance to complete disasters – to the point where you really wonder if anyone had tasted the food before it went out.
Starting with The Good: The staff are absolutely fantastic – friendly, knowledgeable, never intrusive. Some of the courses (we had to have the tasting menu) were genuinely truly innovative and delicious. It began with the highlight of the meal; a starter of Avocado, in a white onion and Chinese tea broth was utterly incredible. All parts working harmoniously together, flavours jostling for pole position with it being a photo-finish between them all by the time you reach the end of the bowl.
A frozen sorel leaf covered with icing sugar took me back to the 2p flying saucers dished out at the corner sweet shop. Again, interesting both texturally and in taste. A wafer thin layer of crispy pork crackling was delicious (when is it not?), whilst the use of roasted nuts in a couple of dishes worked incredibly well to add another layer of flavours and crunch.
The Bad: Being a table of 8 we HAD to have the tasting menu. Annoyingly most of the things I would have chosen from the a la carte menu were not on this list, and of course, you pay a great deal more. The buckwheat waffle was tasty but it came with creme fraiche and a smoked fudge sauce. The first two elements were hardly ground-breaking. The third though left an aftertaste of Marlboro! What a shame! Hot fudge sauce would be absolutely delicious – why smoke it? It was totally ruined. Our table would not even finish the mini jugs of sauce we were given (and leaving food for us is unheard of – let alone fudge sauce). Salsify with burnt hay was another miss. Fairly tasteless apart from the roasted brazil nuts, all that was left by the end was a puddle of sauce that had turned grey with black flecks from the addition of burnt hay.
And finally, The Uh Oh: I hate flabby, flaccid, wet fish skin. The chunk of halibut (I’d like to know if it was real halibut or the cheaper immitation, Black Halibut) had, I think, been cooked in gadget-trend-of-the-moment, the sous-vide. A tepid piece of white fish which was, debateably, undercooked with the aforementioned woeful skin. With the fish came a pickle with dill, with some mustard mayo. The pickle was too strong and over-powered the fish.
But the worst bit of cooking was the mango chutney that came with the pork belly. On paper, it is a great idea to substitute the usual sweetness provided by apples with small pieces of mango. However, whoever had prepared this chutney must have been suffering with a cold, as it was so heavily laced with cloves that it was almost inedible. No one on our table (8 of us) could finish this small splodge that accompanied the pig.
So is this a restaurant worth going to? Our party were all very excited as we had waited about 6 months for this reservation and were willing it to be great. Unfortunately there are too many negatives about the food that would put us off eating here again, which is a shame as there are glimpses of brilliance. Perhaps the new Dabbous venue will fine-hone the successful dishes and remove or amend the faulty ones.