Ollie Dabbous is the co-founder and executive chef of the brilliant Hide restaurant in Piccadilly. Hide was awarded a coveted Michelin star and several other awards, all within six months of opening.
Set over three floors, flooded with natural daylight and enjoying views across Green Park, Hide is a very serious establishment but in a very relaxed setting. We caught up with Ollie Dabbous to find out more.
How did it all start?
It is over a decade ago now that we opened Dabbous. I wasn’t looking to change but Yevgeny Chichvarkin got in touch about the site that would become Hide. I didn’t know him then but he had eaten at Dabbous a few times and always chose an amazing bottle! I went to take a look and the site was incredible. I loved my first restaurant, but it was such a humble set-up that we outgrew it quite fast. It was serendipitous in many ways. It is a privilege to look back and see a restaurant that changed my life, and also to look forward to the future and create something even more unique with Hide.
What is the difference between Hide and Hide Above?
Hide is the ground floor restaurant: very much a barefoot luxury vibe, a treat you can enjoy monthly, weekly or even daily: whether a meal with friends or a coffee & a croissant while you read the papers. The food is refined, but also homely and organic. Above is predicated on serving a seasonal tasting menu: almost like a kaiseki. The very best produce served with finesse and restraint, though we like to interject this with touches of charm and theatricality throughout. There are beautiful views over Green Park so a long lunch is always a good option.
What new flavour combinations or ingredients have recently caught your attention?
Tulips have been a revelation: a taste somewhere between green asparagus & pea shoots. I was in Holland Park this spring at the Dutch Garden, where they have an amazing display each year & that got me thinking.
You are a no nonsense chef. What is the secret to retaining long standing guests and staff?
For customers: Be authentic, have a great offering and show value for money and appreciation. There are so many restaurants to choose from in London, anyone who chooses to come to Hide I want to reward with a great meal, and then we may be rewarded by repeat custom. It’s not rocket science but it’s important to remember the true meaning of hospitality rather than just running a business.
For staff: Create a great working culture and be present. This can be hard with long hours and a hot kitchen but good protocol, testing, recipes and ordering creates a structure to the working day and minimises any curveballs that could derail service. Consistency is what we aim for and if that professionalism is present, it means the staff will enjoy their working day, we can be more creative, change the menu and keep our team learning and enthused. Creativity and development are impossible if your day is spent fighting fires. We want to grow as a restaurant and for us to do that our staff grow with us. That is the most satisfying part of all; we have an amazing team that are getting better every day.
Any future signature dishes you are working on currently that you can tell us about?
Yes, I am in the process of creating a dessert based on Lapis Lazuli, a nod to Beach House who I love! Would be amazing if they got to try it one day. I’ll be doing up the first draft of the dish later this week.
How important is sustainability in your restaurants and the food you create?
Increasingly so. It is impossible to ignore. Happily, since I started as a chef, the quality of home-grown produce has flourished in a way I could have never imagined: from the vegetables to the dairy; this now has to filter down to supermarkets and the mass market.
What do you like to cook at home?
Simple pleasures. Some home food just doesn’t translate into good restaurant food. We never seem to have as much time to cook at home as much as we would like. Looking forward to a nice Lasagne this Autumn!
Top 3 favourite restaurants in the UK?
It changes the whole time! The last 3 really good meals I have eaten recently were at:
Caia: A lovely buzzy Notting Hill neighbourhood gem where all the food is cooked over charcoal.
Brigadiers: I am big boxing fan so was in heaven gorging on curry pre the Joshua-Usyk fight recently.
Heckfield Place: Where we went for our anniversary; I love Skye’s food.
If you could award a Michelin star right now to a UK Chef, who would it be to and why?
Chris Denney. He is a great chef serving delicious food that is hard to pigeon-hole stylistically. It isn’t cooking for stars but I would eat his food over a lot more revered places in a heartbeat.
What is next for Hide?
Looking forward to a busy Autumn. The menu always changes so we are always working on something new. You’ll have to come to try it though! I think it is great for customers that a restaurant always offers something new rather than just repeating a formula.
To discover more, visit: hide.co.uk
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All imagery courtesy of Ollie Dabbous / Hide.