Food & Drink

Unexpected Harmonies

Ollie Dabbous’ particular plating at Hide


When I arrive at the Michelin-starred Hide on a Wednesday in the middle of February, the sky is grey, swollen with clouds, dreary in the way every day in London seems to be at this time of year. Inside, however, it feels as if spring is coming – fresh, bright, vernal, all light-coloured wood and smooth, sinuous concrete. The star is the beautiful, enormous staircase, endlessly photographed, part sculpture, part function and part organic, living thing. It mirrors the view out of the floor-to-ceiling windows over to Green Park, where treetops are feathered with green buds and grass bursts verdant from the mud – an outside come inside.

For Hide’s co-founder and executive chef Ollie Dabbous, this approach was a conscious rejection of the “explicit opulence” on offer in Mayfair. “There’s nothing shiny in this entire building, aside from the glassware. Everything is matte or natural – wood, concrete, all the metal is burnished or brushed.” Design touches, such as the cork on the walls, are incorporated as much for their practicality and sustainability as for their aesthetic value.

After cutting his teeth at some of the world’s most esteemed fine-dining restaurants, including Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons and Mugaritz, Dabbous opened his own restaurant, the eponymous Dabbous, as well as sister establishments, Henrietta and Barnyard. The chef has always been acutely aware of the relationship between design and atmosphere, of how seemingly minor details can indelibly inform experience. Barnyard, for instance, was a dive bar that served chicken wings, soft serve and beer shandies – “a Little House on the Prairie meets Kings of Leon kinda feel”.

Dabbous was in search of a new challenge when Hedonism Wines owner Yevgeny Chichvarkin offered him the 14,000 square-foot Hide premises – and the chance to create the entire restaurant from scratch. “With the name ‘Hide’, I wanted a sense of cossetting, nurturing… a little window of homeliness and luxury in an otherwise busy city,” he says. Every single detail has been considered, from the triple-glazed windows to the phone-charging pebbles hidden in table drawers to the powder-spray finish on the ceiling.

The chef’s vision is holistic, a marriage of food, design and plating. One signature dish, aptly named the Nest Egg, involves egg, smoked butter and mushroom, and arrives in its shell, served on a bed of hay. The eggshell motif recurs throughout Hide; in the domed, cracked lampshades that hang above the tables, their interiors lined with bronze, or in the pleasingly jagged, off-white ceramic bowls used to serve dessert. You get the sense that plating, at Hide, is as much part of the meal as the food – a single ceramic bone paired with a feather, a textured, cast-iron mini cocotte alongside wide stretches of unblemished porcelain. Dabbous sources the tableware from the US, Belgium, France and the UK – some of his suppliers, such as Turning Earth and AR Ceramics, are only a stone’s throw from the restaurant. It’s all about interactions, unexpected harmonies, about subverting our expectations of the Mayfair fine-dining scene. After all, as Dabbous laughs: “I think if you just have white china, it can get a little American Psycho.”


This article is taken from Port issue 34. To continue reading, buy the issue or subscribe here