Yesterday my step sister and I accompanied my sister for her final wedding dress fitting. Totes emoche it was. And though I would like to gush, I know my future brother-in-law might well read this post and I shall give nothing away. Apart from the fact that she is breath-taking and you are going to blub like an X Factor winner, or me when I saw my first manta ray after 200 dives and the fear that my bodily make-up repelled them. (God, that French couple did not know what to do with me! Note to self; be cooler than you currently are. These people are paying you…)
So we are up near Tottenham Court Road and are due a celebratory toast. There is somewhere that I had been meaning to tick off a list for a long while. I quicken my stride, one of the most important things I leant from my father; a brutally rhythmic, no bullshit pace on the streets. They’ll keep up. And there in front of us is Dabbous. The closed steel door ominously asks “Are you sure you want to attempt coming in here sans reservation?” But once the door is opened (it’s a pull door, not a push fyi. Thank you sister dearest) we are greeted by smiling faces in dapper suits, who seem delighted we want to try Oskar’s Bar downstairs, perhaps a little prematurely in the day for most.
Down the steel stairs 4 bartenders, perfectly balanced between friendly and cool, talk us through an extensive menu, we hover over the Sloe Gin Punch like flies on poop. One of those please sir, a “That drink with Bacardi and lemon verbena” and an Acacia Fizz – Grey Goose pear Vodka with rhubarb bitters, elderflower, lemon, topped up with champagne. All refreshing, beautifully served and skilfully introduced by staff knowing where the line between being labelled “that charming waiter” and “that over the top waiter” (NB Hix Bar in Soho makes for a good venue for company with little conversation – the cocktail waiters will talk to you all evening long about the history of each individual liqueur – cleverly, it will drive you to drink).
Interestingly, I see on the menu the dish that makes my knees weak. If I had this blog up and running at the time, I would have gushed over my last minute opportunity to eat lunch that Dabbous back in April. For main I ordered the barbequed Iberico pork, savoury acorn praline, turnip tops and homemade apple vinegar. Great to see this on the bar menu – effectively meaning one does not need to book a table for March next year to enjoy what is the most well rounded, complimentary and aesthetically pleasing dish I have ever had set in front of me (oh, and it is £16). For dessert I ordered the chocolate ganache with basil moss; was it gelatine, was it sorbet? An interesting, delicate, intricately textured dish and overall worthy of Olympic gold – a shame that I cannot see it on the menu anymore!
I thank Dabbous for one reason specifically: that I now have a definite answer for that question of “where is the best place in the world you have eaten?” (I ask it too much, but it shows a lot about a person). For style, “difficulty & execution” (if we’re referencing Olympic gymnastics), and price too, it has to top the ratings previously owned to the Equinox Restaurant in The Stamford Tower in Singapore twinned with Bude’s house serving nasi campur on Gili Trawangan in Indonesia where I had the privilege of eating every day for 3 months.
Dabbous does not need any gushing reviews. It has had plenty, and will doubtless get a star for its effort in February. Can a restaurant jump straight to 2 stars in it’s first year? Answers on a postcard because I have no idea and I’m intrigued…
One other thing to mention in my culinary adventures of this week: After our stylish celebratory cocktails yesterday, I ended up joining my sister, her future hub, and a brother from another mother last night for dinner in the Jam Tree in Shepherd’s Bush.
I’m excited. I spy the Jamaican curry and I’m headed for culinary glory when a curve ball in the form of a starter smacks me in the face. I am a Main-Pud girl rather than a Starter-Main girl. But out comes Sotong Manis – I hadn’t even spied in. Sticky crispy fried squid drenched in Indonesian kecap manis and seaweed and sliced almonds and chilli. I am overwhelmed.
“Are you crying?” says the bride, smugly.
It might have been the green chilli wedged in my throat, but I choke; it too perfectly brings me back to Indonesia, and all the memories bundled with some amazing summers in that part of the world with arguably the best cuisine Planet Earth has to offer. Must return soon. This weekend I feel lucky – I’m playing scratch cards.