Described by The Observer’s restaurant critic Jay Rayner as “so damn hot you could blister your palms on it”, Dabbous is a brand new restaurant currently causing a stir in the capital.
Situated on Whitfield Street, London, Dabbous is the first restaurant from celebrated chef Ollie Dabbous and has been a runaway success since it opened in January 2012.
The 36-cover restaurant is split over two floors and comprises a ground floor restaurant and kitchen with a basement bar. Whilst the restaurant is the main focus of the site, the basement level provides a comfortable and relaxing getaway – designed for light bites, drinks and partying – and includes 49 additional covers.
Work started on the project in August 2011, with Brinkworth as the interior designer and Syntec Projects Ltd as the main contractor. The build aspect of the project was nine weeks.
Commenting on the work conducted by the contractors, Ollie Dabbous, said:
“The end result looks exactly as we wanted it to. Syntec had a good two-way partnership with Brinkworth when it came to attention to detail and they were always clear about what we were after.
“I had a very clear vision of how I wanted the site to look. Brinkworth clearly understood this, listened and suggested as opposed to imposed, and worked closely alongside Syntec to deliver a finished product far superior than I considered achievable on our budget.”
Pat Meagher, Syntec Projects Ltd, added:
“For more than 12 years we have worked on projects with Brinkworth so when they were brought in as the interior designers for this project they introduced us to Ollie and we were taken on as the main contractor.
“This was a great site to work on and we were very pleased with the end result.”
Working together with Chef Dabbous, the team created a raw interior, which perfectly highlights the food and adds a unique minimalistic flavour to the dining experience. Meanwhile, the basement level echoes the restaurant above and backed by award-winning bartender Oskar Kinberg creates a fantastic atmosphere.
Commenting on the project, Brinkworth Director, Karen Byford, said:
“The brief for the restaurant was to create a site which could truly highlight the food.
“Ollie’s food is a work of art, it looks simply amazing on the plate. One key design focus was to create an interior that could truly emphasise the food, providing a backdrop for something truly special, by keeping everything quite simple.
“The interior is very raw and Ollie was very succinct idea about what he wanted Dabbous to look like. When we first visited the site it was just a shell with a concrete floor, which Ollie loved and he wanted to keep it quite close to how it looked at that stage. We incorporated a lot of metal work, kept the tables and chairs quite minimalistic and worked on the kitchen to make sure it was workable for Ollie.
When work began on Dubbous, there was no direct access to the basement level, so the first task was to create a feature staircase – separated by a dividing screen – to provide links between the two levels. A stunning light was then installed above the staircase which not only illuminates the entrance, but is enticing from the outside.
“Ollie’s brief was to make use of the fabric of the existing building where possible. So we preserved what we could and introduced elements such as the bespoke staircase.
“We worked with S & A Steel Services on the staircase, who we have worked with on quite a number of projects in the past and this helped to make the operation run smoothly. For projects like this, timing, cooperative working and a great working relationship really benefit the construction programme.”
Additional features of the restaurant include a main reception desk, waiting station, a bar, a feature mirror and associated furniture. All of the materials used in the site – including the use of exposed brickwork on the walls – are in keeping with the overall design aesthetic of the restaurant.
The kitchen – arguably the most important area of Dabbous – is screened by frosted reeded glass. The glass was installed to add an element of theatre to the restaurant without giving a direct view of Chef Dabbous in action.
Externally the restaurant has also been given a minimalistic makeover and includes a large steel door and associated Dabbous signage.
Since work was completed on Dabbous the restaurant has continued to go from strength-to-strength; attracting rave reviews from diners and critics alike and receiving its first Michelin star well within a year of opening. The menu offers diners a range of tempting taste sensations, including an à la carte menu comprising 16 dishes, ranging in price from £4 to £14.
“The restaurant has been a huge success. It is booked out and diners simply cannot get seats because it is that popular.
“Ollie has talked about an additional site, but he is taking care to think about the best way to let the business grow. There will probably be a different angle to offer and design when they are ready to expand.
“It is always exciting to be involved with a new project. When we met Ollie he seemed like quite a modest guy, but with a really amazing business plan, so we really bought into this restaurant straight away. As a practice we want to do more bars and restaurants and this project seemed exactly right for us.
“There were a couple of design elements which we could not make happen when we completed work on the site, however these may make an appearance in the near future. A restaurant should always keep evolving, so whilst Ollie grows, so too will Dabbous.”
S & A Steel Services Ltd
S & Steel Services Ltd is a structural architect and steel work contractor, with over nine years of experience in the industry. The company works across a broad range of projects, from domestic and commercial to retail, and recent projects include Superdry stores in Croydon and Lakeside and an All Saints store at Camden Lock.
Working on Dabbous, S & A Steel Services Ltd was responsible for all the decorative steel work on the site, as well as the furniture and feature staircase.
S & A Steel Services Ltd Managing Director, Danny Sunley, said:
“When we first became involved with Dabbous it seemed like only a small job, but the site has really taken off and it is great to know we have been involved with this site.”
“Every architect that we have worked with has recommended us to new clients, so many of our jobs come through our excellent reputation.”
Summer Land Air Conditioning Ltd
Summer Land Air Conditioning Ltd specialise in the installation of air conditioning and ventilation systems for a range of projects, including commercial, retail and domestic. The company has been in operation for ten years and in this time has completed work for a number of clients including Specsavers and Coral.
Working on Dabbous, Summer Land Air Conditioning Ltd was responsible for the installation of the restaurants air conditioning system.
Commenting on the project, Summer Land Air Conditioning Ltd Company Director, Richard Puplett, said:
“Working on Dabbous was very important to us and it was great to be involved with a restaurant that is doing so well.”
“At Summer Land Air Conditioning Ltd we value all of our clients and offer each of them a very high standard of service. All of our engineers are experts in their field and we pride ourselves on our expertise in design and installation.”
Glass Design Ltd
For more than 33 years, Glass Design Ltd has specialised in the supply and installation of flat glass for use in a range of projects, from high-end residential schemes to hotel and shop fit-outs. In addition, Glass Design Ltd also supplies flat glass to the construction trade.
Recent projects for Glass Design Ltd have included the Corinthia Hotel in London, the Tower Complex in Vauxhall and a number of works for Karen Millen. Working on Dabbous, Glass Design Ltd supplied tinted mirrors as well as laminated glass, diffused glass and clear glass.
Glass Design Ltd Managing Director, Vince McDonnell, said:
“At Glass Design Ltd we work with a number of high-end clients; providing them with bespoke glass. All of our clients are very important to us and we appreciate the good working relationships we have created.”
“We pride ourselves on our quality workmanship and our high levels of customer care.”
Syntec Projects Ltd
Syntec Projects Ltd is a London-based contractor and shopfitter, specialising in construction and project management. The company has been in operation since 1994 and works across a broad range of projects, from high-street fashion stores and high-end residential schemes, to cutting-edge bars and restaurants.
Syntec Projects Ltd has four directors – Pat Meagher, Ronan Bourke, Tiernan Bourke and Declan McGabhann – and the company works on projects throughout the UK. Previous projects have included St James Club and Hotel in London, a VIP bar at the O2 Arena, BBC Norwich, the Royal National Theatre and of course, Dabbous.
Syntec Projects Ltd completed work on Dabbous in early 2012 and the feedback from Ollie Dabbous was very positive, with the chef commenting that Syntec “understood our requirements and the fact that we had a really tight budget.”
“They are straight dealing; something either is or isn’t possible. They always gave us options and explained everything very simply in layman’s terms.”
Syntec Projects Ltd Pat Meagher, commented:
“Working on Dabbous was very important to us. Ollie is a top chef and although Dabbous is a start-up restaurant for him he has a wealth of experience in the industry.
“We are very pleased to be involved from the ground floor upwards with all of our clients, including Ollie and at Syntec Projects we are very proud of our customer service as well as our aftercare service.”
Design Resource is a contract furniture supplier and manufacturer with the ability to tailor products to suit its clients’ individual requirements. With over 10 years of experience, Design Resource has extensive product and finishing knowledge and is able to source both the furniture and the finish required for each job.
Design Resource has an extensive portfolio of work, with clients including Pizza Express, Byron, Nando’s, Leon, Comptoir Libanais and La Tasca, as well as Drake and Morgan, Be At One, Cigalon, Le Cercle and Cinnamon Kitchen. In addition, the company has also worked on several of the restaurants in Harrods.
Working on Dabbous, Design Resource worked closely with Brinkworth to source the furniture package that suited their vision. The solution was part-bespoke – as the furniture that suited the brief was not available in the desired finish – and the company changed the upholstery and modified frame colours to create the right look.
Commenting on the work, Jade Saunders, Design Resource, said:
“We were proud to have been asked by Brinkworth to work on Ollie Dabbous’ first restaurant, and are delighted by his success.”
“At Design Resource, we pride ourselves on being able to understand what the client requires and provide several options to choose from to fit their brief. Due to our industry knowledge we are unique and have a flexibility which allows us to be able to adapt products to meet our clients’ needs.”