Dabbous, 39 Whitfield Street, London W1

You won't forget this taste of Dabbous. Just get there before the Michelin men do...

And so we come at last to the Holy Grail for which your correspondent has been searching: an exquisite tasting menu in London for less than £50. It probably won't last; not long after I went to L'Autre Pied for the first time five years ago, it received a Michelin star, and jacked up its tasting menu by £17.50. That is why it is very important that you avail yourself of the earliest opportunity to attend Dabbous, the most thrilling addition to the London scene for yonks.

There are two floors. Downstairs is an excellent cocktail bar with a few sofas and tables both large and small. Upstairs is where they do the food; here it feels like a huge industrial warehouse, with gridiron installations, exposed copper pipes and giant air vents craning their way around the ceiling. Think of the final scene in Terminator 2.

You don't have to get the tasting menu, but you should. First up is a brown paper bag with hazelnut bread, salted butter, and some very juicy olives. All this is marvellous, but while unwrapping the bag is fun, it does cause the bread to sweat slightly, so that it's overly moist.

The seven courses start proper with a salad of fennel, lemon balm and pickled rose petals, served in a dish that looks like a miniature of the media centre at Lord's, or a tiny spaceship. It has a very smooth basil and cheese paste, which complements the fennel and sweet lemon almost unimprovably. The rose petals are intense and fragrant.

Then there is a beef tartare with cigar oil, whisky and rye. There is a tarragon emulsion with the rye, and chunky strips of swede that lovers of the Korean staple kimchi will want to request an extra serving of.

Not long after this, a bowl arrives that is full of straw. And perched like a prince in the middle of it is an egg whose top has been scored off. In it is coddled free-range egg with woodland mushrooms and smoked butter. Now, try to think of the finest scrambled eggs you've ever had, and you won't get near the quality of this dish. The warm egg is tongue-ticklingly smooth; the woodland mushrooms are firm and almost meaty, and the smoky flavour is warming to the soul. For all that, this is neither the best, nor the second-best dish on the menu.

Second place, in fact, goes to the roast king crab with buttermilk, chunks of parsnip and Hispi cabbage. The crab is muscular and flavourful, and the creamy sauce carrying it is a perfect match.

But victory is awarded to the barbecue Iberico pork with savoury acorn praline, turnip tops and apple vinegar. No pig could reasonably expect a better fate than this, other than to live; and the praline is as good a friend as any slice of meat I can remember has had. It's a bit like the best satay sauce, except thicker and richer; and the apple vinegar, with its hint of sweetness, completes a spectacular triumph.

There's a bunch of British cheeses for an extra £9, cucumber and perilla in a chilled lemon verbena infusion (glorified Lipton ice tea, basically), and then chocolate-and-hazelnut oil ganache, with chocolate meringue, basil moss and sheep's milk ice-cream. You might be sceptical about basil and chocolate, but not after you've eaten this, and the reminder of the basil in the opening course is clever.

I have only three complaints. First, the flats over the road make the view horrendous, but that's too bad. Second, the toilets downstairs aren't just dingy; though perfectly clean, they are so achingly trendy and dark as to seem positively Satanic. And third, the waiting staff are just too attractive. Franzi, the main waiter, was born in French Guyana, grew up in Martinique, then spent half his life in Toulouse, before coming here via The Ritz. Every time he popped along was like the moment in Match of the Day when Didier Drogba is giving a post-match interview, and reminding you that your best days are behind you.

Oli Dabbous, the eponymous chef-patron, trained at Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons for four years, and was then head chef at Agnar Sverrisson's Texture. He is not yet 30. Apart from Brunswick House Café (which, admittedly, is run by a mate of mine), there is nowhere in London to match his outstanding new establishment. I just hope he has the gumption to keep his prices down even after the Michelin men have paid their visit.

9.5/10

Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

Dabbous, 39 Whitfield Street, London W1, tel: 020 7323 1544. Lunch and dinner, Tues-Sat. About £150 for two with wine

Terrific tasting menus

Sienna

36 High West Street, Dorchester, Dorset, tel: 01305 250 022, £55 for six courses

Russell and Elaina Brown's shop conversion is not much to look at, but the food is so good that they deserve to succeed

Trinity

4 The Polygon, London SW4, tel: 020 7622 1199, £45 for six courses

The food at this dazzling neighbourhood blockbuster just gets better and better; it's a stylish place, too, with a convivial ambience

Aumbry

2 Church Lane, Prestwich, Manchester, tel: 0161 798 5841, £60 for nine courses

The premises may be small and crowded, but chefs Lawrence Tottingham and Mary-Ellen McTague work miracles here, offering sophisticated, refined cuisine

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2012' www.hardens.com

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: International Project Coordinator / Account Coordinator

    Circa £26,500 DOE: Guru Careers: An International Project Coordinator / Accoun...

    Guru Careers: Plumber / Maintenance Operator

    £25k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Plumber / Mainten...

    Recruitment Genius: Travel Customer Service and Experience Manager

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing travel comp...

    Recruitment Genius: Network Executive - Adrenalin Sports - OTE £21,000

    £19000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you looking for an exciting...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen