WHAT HAPPENS to many great chefs when they arrive at the stage where their name no longer stands alone but is introduced with the phrase ‘Michelin-star’ is that they remain there – in that stagnant space of self and stomach fulfilment.
But Tom Sellers seems to have always had a knack of not quite starting again but continually trying to redefine what makes his touch in the kitchen his.
So when the invitation to try his third opening, Dovetale, situated in the new 1 Hotel Mayfair, arrived, the question of ‘what to expect’ arose. Understanding that his culinary creations are all crafted from British produce, I knew that this could be no exception with local and UK-based suppliers all being employed in the kitchen – namely the likes of Estate Dairy, Cacklebean Eggs and Freedown Hills Farm.
Tom Anglesea, Tom Sellers, Chase Lovecky and Andrew Blas
Nestled down an alley off Berkley Square, Dovetale is certainly one that is off the beaten track finding itself positioned away from crowds and in its own world. The hotel itself is founded with an ethos that binds luxury with sustainability so the restaurant itself is designed to bring the outside in – think plants (a lot of them), Scandinavian wooden furniture, sunlight and even fireplaces.
With the setting oozing a calm, zen-like atmosphere, I was seated and handed a menu and drinks list by my waiter, Leonardo. There was no chance that the drinks selection wouldn’t tick all the boxes, offering whiskies from both Ireland and Japan, and gin from as close as Portobello Road, but what intrigued me most was the selection of cocktails made from repurposed ingredients – something that few utilise, but as the saying goes one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
The menu itself begins and ends with the actual ingredients, never straying too far into the category of European cooking but still finds itself in a realm elevated above British cuisine.
Beginning with a Raw Bar, that contains classics such as Dressed Cornish Crab and Oysters from Porthilly to ostentatious Oscietra Caviar and Scottish Orkney Scallops, I opted for the Carpaccio of English Wagyu nicknamed Harry’s Bar.
Coming paper thin and drizzled with hot mustard and chives with a handful of neatly cut chips that had been drenched in beef fat whilst cooking, I was instructed by Leonardo to wrap the raw beef around the chip to experience Sellers’ vision for the starter. Indulgent to say the least, and moreish in every sense, it is hard not to love a dish that is essentially very simple and yet boasts far more notes than your average steak and chips.
Isle of Wight tomato tart
Alongside a dish that has already made the rounds on Instagram, I had Braised Cuttlefish ‘Alla Roamana’, which was a needed taste of Italy with its juicy San Marzano tomato sauce during this terribly rainy July, and a favourite of the entire meal, Carpaccio of Globe Artichoke with Barigoule dressing and tiny shavings of black truffle.
Maybe biased as I fall somewhat weak when I see it on any menu, the shockingly light sauce that boasted a zesty tang to it with the powerful specks of truffle, made the humble vegetable position itself on a pedestal hard to ignore – a must-try!
Grain-fed Black Angus T-bone
Balancing the wish to try both of Sellers’ offerings – surf and turf – for the main course, Dover Sole Veronique and a Fillet Steak from the Peak District were ordered with an accompaniment of Wood Fired Carrots with Harissa Yoghurt and Ratatouille Byaldi. The meat spoke volumes on the importance of ethical farming, and with the benefit of an onsite butcher, it is most definitely worth ordering some beef.
The Dover Sole was one that could’ve gone two ways as it isn’t even in my top five fish from the sea – I have always found it on the bland side (sorry). However, I was pleasantly surprised by the addition of a scallop stuffing and the use of cauliflower on the side, neither overpowering the meat but giving the flavours a push out of their confined space.
Grilled whole Cornish lobster
At this level, a side of Ratatouille is a failsafe but what genuinely took me most by surprise were the carrots. Wood fired and yet entirely soft from the onset of a bite, and then with the punch of harissa on your tongue, Sellers clearly has taken some time (namely three years) to really care about every mouthful – even the ones from the small, unexciting side dishes.
But the pièce de résistance was the pudding. This sounds like a hard sell, I get it but wait.
At his two Michelin-starred Restaurant Story, a dish named Paddington Bear sits proudly on the menu, it’s his take on a marmalade sandwich but obviously giving it so much more. At Dovetale, you are handed the Dessert Menu and a piece of paper with a tiered checklist to create your own Knickerbocker Glory.
Food is all about evoking emotion, whether it’s pleasure or memory. Growing up, my favourite thing when visiting my grandmother was her creating my very own Knickerbocker glory finished with a mountain of whipped cream. A forgotten treat by most but one that exudes fun and awakens anyone’s sweet tooth.
Curating mine to include Birthday cake flavoured ice-cream, popping candy, Cinder toffees and spiced rum (to name a few of the layers), it is hard not to overindulge and leave Dovetale with a smile reminiscent of a kid in a candy shop (which at this point I may as well have been).
It is hard not to gush over a meal that doesn’t really falter or over a chef who has managed to maintain his rank throughout the years, but Dovetale is truly an outstanding take on timeless dishes through a British lens.
You can’t help but leave with a smile and the remnants of fudge on your face.
by Imogen Clark
1 Dover Yard at 1 Hotel Mayfair, London, W1J 8DJ