Ollie Dabbous at Hide interview
Culture Whisper meets wonder chef Ollie Dabbous
His new restaurant Hide has fiercely divided critics. He serves elegantly nuanced ingredients almost naked. "I prefer to use no more than three or four ingredients that merely enhance the beauty of the products.
A fine example is a current summer starter of Sicilian red prawns served raw, merely cured in sweet vinegar in a broth made simply from water, Cedron lemon, basil and served topped with garlic flowers. Meanwhile, Turbot of infinite delicacy is cooked in a broth of its bones.
Aside from its wonder chef, Hide has been noted for its awe-inspiring design. Its sculptural oak staircase, said to be the gnarled roots of a tree, must have made it one of the most instagrammed restaurant interiors in town. There's also much discussion about just how much Hide's Russian restaurateur, also owner of Mayfair's Hedonism Wine, has spent on the restaurant overlooking Green Park.
“I feel like I’m embarking on a love affair when I make new dishes,” says Dabbous. He is a quiet, reflective, intelligent chef not given to big extravagant gestures. He is noticeably skinny too. Laughing, he admits: "I rarely eat proper meals as I am always tasting at the restaurant. This morning I tried12 shot glasses of different juices. I insist on checking the flavour and seasoning constantly at the pass."
Presently, Dabbous rarely leaves his kitchen. "Who would want to?" he asks. "It's a dream come to true to have been able to create the kitchen of my fantasies, no expense has been spared at Hide."
Still a country boy at heart, Dabbous admits he likes to return home to see his mum. "She's a superb cook and opened my eyes to so many dishes as I grew up, yet always valued simple food either grown at home or collected in the wild."
"My food is the gastromomic equivalent of architect John Pawson. I want people to finish a meal here – even the tasting menu feeling nourished and well, not over-satiated,” says Dabbous simply.
Hide is open all day and that includes breakfast. "I expect a few French chefs will be horrified by my playing with the classic croissant. But I don't care, I like to disrupt. "Who says a croissant can't have smoked butter inside?"
Dabbous is intent on shaking up afternoon tea. "It should be a treat, so I am mixing up my favourites. There's pickled cucumber in the smoked salmon sandwiches and candyfloss with herbs alongside the cakes. Why not?"
When he does take time off, Ollie mostly sleeps, reads, watches films or enjoys a bbq with his family.“I just crave simplicity. I often make cedar salmon. I serve it in the restaurant cooked on a cedar plank that imparts a lightly smoky perfumed flavour. It is best with potato salad made with homemade mayo.That’s one of my favourite comfort foods".
Price: £150+ including drinks