But I bravely soldiered on. Huddled against the cold, I battled through the windy streets of Fitzrovia. The bar downstairs which serves bar food, was completely empty; I wondered why everyone who was so desperate to try the food wasn't there instead. A ginger beer-based cocktail went towards settling my stomach. The first course of chilled shrimp broth with a perfect fold of candy beetroot and a hint of shiso leaf was challenging in my condition, but not impossible and it even perked me up a little. Next, speckled endive leaves arrived arranged carefully in a bowl like a blossoming flower, dusted with gingerbread crumbs, with a hint of bergamot.
Fishing those leaves out and cramming them, unladylike into my mouth cheered me no end; the bright, unusual flavours, so distinctly separate yet bound together with the freshness of mint convinced me I'd made the right decision and that yes, I would enjoy this lunch very much indeed.
Mash and gravy sounds so innocuous on the menu, but what turned up was pure decadence. The creamiest, smoothest buttery mashed potato and a rich meaty gravy was comfort food at its finest. A shaving of truffle helped it along a bit. Excuse me a moment while I relive this memory (though, now that I think about it, Lucky Chip's creamed potatoes were almost as good).
Not currently on the tasting menu but requested as an extra course, Dabbous' famous dish is of an egg shell sliced in half with precision. Filled with coddled egg it was silky smooth and studded with woodland mushrooms. It was understandably the signature and I begrudged every spoonful I ate, wishing it wouldn't end.
A rather strange dish of halibut followed; laid bare on a plate with a spear of dill pickle, it was served at room temperature; the skill of the kitchen showed in the delicate texture of the fish, which we later heard was salted before cooking. I marvelled at its technical skill and the feeling of it in the mouth, but remember little about the flavour. I actively disliked a dish of pork belly sat atop a spiced mango chutney. Cloying and overly rich, I abandoned much of it. My companion snaffled the crisp crackling.
We were back on track with a tiny bowlful of blood orange with marjoram and olive oil. Sweet and cleansing, the olive oil added a grassy savouriness to it. Rum baba was deceptively enormous; arriving in glassware I wanted to steal, the sponge was positively soaked in rum, the crumb of it loose and yielding. An ethereal, almost foamy vanilla cream softened the punch of the rum.
The room, industrial in its fittings, was barely comfortable. This is not the place to take someone who appreciates linen tablecloths. But service was that perfect level of completely unremarkable - that is to say, they did they job well in making sure we had everything we wanted. I left happy, shuffling to the bus stop, unknown at the time that this was to be the last meal I'd eat for three days. Thanks Norovirus! Although there were a couple of dishes that I either wasn't blown away by or didn't like, there were others which were inventive (the endive), and others of downright deliciousness and at £59 per head for the tasting menu, one of the best value at this level of cooking. I'll be back - mainly because I've just noticed they do chicken wings on the bar menu...
39 Whitfield Street
Tel: 0207 323 1544