Oliver Dabbous (pronounced Daboo) began at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saison outside Oxford, then worked at Texture, known for its unusual Icelandic slant. Now he's set up his own place, Dabbous, in a large two-story building. There's a bar in the basement and an upstairs dining room for small plates of unusual dishes like roast crab with warm buttermilk and cabbage, or braised veal cheek with spelt, mixed onions and a light broth. It's all very well done at good value prices. Tues.-Sat. noon-11.30pm. Dabbous, 39 Whitfield St., London W1, 020-7323 1544.
Those familiar with the green and white awnings of Chez Leon in central Brussels will be delighted to see that a branch has opened in London in the former Cafe Mediterranean space. Its all-day menu of mussels and chips, among other piscatorial delights, is a good start to an evening --- note that the restaurant is handy for the theater. Belgian beer from Trappist monasteries, waffles with hot chocolate sauce, and more filling Belgian specialties are on offer. Mon.-Fri. 9am-11pm, Sat.-Sun. 11am-11pm. Leon de Bruxelles, 24 Cambridge Circus, London WC2, 020-7836 3500.
Opened on March 1, the new Russian restaurant Mari Vanna comes to Knightsbridge by way of St. Petersburg. It's based on ‘babushka cooking,' that is just like your grandmother used to prepare, though the influences might be a bit different. Armenian, Georgian and Uzbekistani touches are all to be found, along with a wide range of vodkas. It all takes place in a suitably homelike setting with elaborate chandeliers and Russian ornaments. Daily 7am to 1am. Mari Vanna, Wellington Court, 116 Knightsbridge, London SW1, 020-7581 5920.
Italian-style Aperitivos at Obika Mozzarella Bar
Obika Mozzarella Bar is offering a free tasting plate (fresh buffalo mozzarella, crostini with n'duja, a slice of artisan pizza, or a piece of stuffed focaccia) when you order a drink. The special is available Monday to Friday between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m. Mon.-Sat. 10am-10pm, Sun. noon-6pm. Obika Mozzarella Bar, 35 Bank St., London E14, 020-3239 8010.
Benares Teams with Top Chefs for Special Bar MenusChef Shuffle
Benares restaurant is bringing some additional talent to its kitchens this spring. They will join chef Atul Kochhar to produce a series of fusion menus to be served at the stylish Benares bar. The series will include Richard Corrigan of Bentley's Oyster Bar & Grill on March 20, David Thompson of Nahm on April 16, and Nigel Haworth of Northcote on May 3 --- all will produce a special menu of small plates for the bar. Benares, 12A Berkeley Sq. House, London W1, 020-7629 8886.
After 16 years, Jeremy Lee has left the Blueprint Cafe to join Quo Vadis in Soho. The restaurant and bar at Quo Vadis have been lightened up along with the menu. Expect dishes like mallard and beetroot salad, a grill selection, and a pie of the day. Quo Vadis, 26-29 Dean St., London W1, 020-7437 9585.
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