We arrived a little early, and therefore were able to head down to 'Oscar's bar' under the restaurant which serves up some mean cocktails and super looking snacks. I settled for a 'Sloe Gin Punch', home made Sloe Gin and grapefruit juice is teamed with ginger ale and fresh fruits, mint and cucumber. This was really refreshing and many of the waitresses favourites. Mr D chose their Cider cocktail which was a 'Dutch Breakfast', Bols Genever, tonka bean spirit, lemon and orange marmalade which is shaken and finished with Wyld Wood Cider. This was another winner and came with a small piece of dried wood which as you drank you got a 'barky' smell - very clever.
Seated upstairs the restaurant is quite industrial and there's not a huge amount of tables. As we were a 6:30 booking we were off by 8:30 but this gave us plenty of time to enjoy the food at a decent pace.
The waiter informed us that the set menu at £56 per person for 7 courses was the better value, they recommend 5-7 dishes off the A la Carte per person, as the dishes are small. In hind sight, yes, it does look good value, however when one would rather an extra starter or main over puddings this wasn't for us. Also, a couple of the courses we didn't want and opted instead to have 3 of the larger dishes whereas on the set menu you only got to sample one.
The bread arrived in a brown paper bag which, upon opening produced the most intense fresh bread smell and my tummy grumbled. This was served with the softest churned butter we have ever had (massive box ticked here).
Mr D decided we'd order as we go along and see how we felt after 3 courses and potentially order more should we wish. We therefore ordered 6 dishes which came out in 2's as courses...
First up, The coddled free range egg with smoked butter and mushrooms. This being 'Chef Dabbous' signature dish, was outstanding and looked brilliant being served back into the shell and on a bed of hay. This is possibly the best scrambled egg you will ever taste in your life - fact!
Our other starter was, mixed alliums in a chilled pine infusion. Alliums being two very pretty onions perched in the middle of the dish surrounded by a bright green spotted clear broth. A really fresh, pretty and light dish.
Once these were polished off our fish 'mid course' arrived. King crab with warm garlic buttermilk and hispi cabbage. Generous portions of crab in a delectably moreish buttery sauce, this was my second favourite of the evening and Mr D's numero uno.
Along with the crab came one of the larger dishes, poached cod with palourde clams, artichokes, basil and mustard. Perfectly cooked all round and great combinations.
Barbecued Iberico pork, savoury almond praline, radishes and crushed green apple was next up. This was my favourite dish of the whole evening. A faultlessly charred meaty pork was literally insane. I could have ordered 3 courses of just this and left happy... the sweet, sticky praline was like a posh satay sauce to accompany the hunk of meat - I wish I could have licked my plate!
Barbecued grain-fed beef short rib with mustard, molasses & dill pickle concluded our meaty mains. This was another delicious dish succulent beef in a sweet sauce, the pickle perfectly cut through the richness of this dish.
We caved, and had pudding which was Warm buckwheat waffle, smoked fudge sauce and sour cream. The sweet waffle was perfect, the sauce was disgustingly addictive, not overpowering in smokiness in any way and I ended up pouring the rest of the sauce onto my spoon and eating it on its own - amazing.
As a pallet cleanser we had the 'iced lovage' fresh, zingy and tasty. I sadly didn't ask what it was exactly, but it's a bright green granita. But... on Sunday we popped down to the local market and on the herb plant stall was in fact 'Lovage' in plant form. So it's a type of herb...
Overall... don't be fooled by the reasonably looking prices on-line. should you only have 2/3 courses you'd leave feeling hungry, hence our bill creeping past the £100 mark on an evening where we were 'just going to a quick treat'. But it's well worth it. Innovative ingredients and flavours make this a seriously delicious and well worthy trip should you be able to get on the wait list!