Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Dabbous, Noho: 19/20

Location: Whitfield Street, Noho

Visit: Several times on various days and times of night

To Note? Restaurant upstairs bar downstairs

Ambiance 4/5
Design 5/5
Drinks 5/5
Staff 5/5
Extra LBS star: Not until the crowds start showing...

As a huge fan of Texture, I wanted to like Dabbous from the minute there were whispers of Oliver Dabbous’s leaving for a new venture in Noho, even more so when Oskar Kinberg of the Cuckoo Club signed up to run the bar. I was almost the first in when the doors in, and I have been going back ever since.

Mellow Yellow
The space, a corner site just behind Goodge Street and an area attracting more venues by the day, is all concrete and scaffolding. The upstairs is the restaurant opening from the industrial metal front door to single light bulbs hanging from iron bars, a small kitchen functioning behind a glass screen (FYI offering a tasting menu) and not a white table cloth in sight. Down the “fire escape” style stairs the theme continues with a sleek wooden bar serving a room with a mix of benches round walls and long wooden tables and chairs – all with a hint of 60’s design in their curves and design. Candles are everywhere so you may need your phone to read the menu, and refreshing your make-up in the bathrooms is nigh on impossible.

Four pages of cocktail cover everything from Martinis to long classics and even beer cocktails, all sitting at around a reasonably friendly £8. Having personally tried about…seven, I can safely say that it is very difficult to go wrong; these guys really know what they are doing and even the waiting staff (it’s table service) know the menu back to front so ask away if you need help. There is a good selection of beers, wines and very tasty bar snacks as well as the option (we were told) to order something from the restaurant if they are not too busy upstairs. They are saying “fully booked till April” but there will always be no-shows so from my experience if you are in the area drop in and try.

Music is more mainline than I would have thought considering the cutting edge design but they are keen to get their license extended (currently open until 11pm in the opening months) and then look out for a DJ and more upbeat times.

So it all sounds positive, and everyone is talking about Dabbous, making the right noises, yet it is never busy. I am not saying that it lacks a buzz, I have always been more than happy to wile away the hours there, but I overheard our waitress saying “Oh it was busier earlier” in response to the query of how quiet it was. No, it wasn’t – I’d been there since 6.30pm!

Perhaps it is going to take a while for people to start diverting from Soho, perhaps it will take more investment in the area, or a later license. In the meantime I will keep enjoying an extraordinarily good cocktail without worrying – yet – about getting a table!

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