Ollie Dabbous at Harvey Nichols:
Summer brings with it a host of al fresco pop-ups and events. Although I’ve eaten at the fifth-floor cafe at Harvey Nichols on many an occasion, I’ve peered longingly at the outdoor terrace rather than actually been there. So, I was thrilled by an invitation to the first of a series of events, a banquet cooked and served by none other than Michelin starred Ollie Dabbous, of the eponymous restaurant. I haven’t been there either so I got to kill two culinary birds with one stone, so to speak.
The pop-up, which runs until 7th August, has seen the rooftop terrace prettily decorated with pots of lavender, trailing ivy, rustic tables and benches. As the sun sets over the rooftops of London it gets even prettier, with subtle twinkling lights. There’s a thoughtful canopy to protect diners from the elements, though we were lucky to have a fine evening on our visit.
Needless to say, the food was delicious.
We started with a dish of Buffalo Milk Ricotta with sweet, mild Cipollini onions, crushed Sicilian pistachios, Amalfi lemon and nepitella, a delicate herb found in Tuscany and Umbria that looks like a large-leaved oregano but tastes minty with undertones of basil or oregano. It was a lovely plateful of food with enough crunch added by the pistachios to offset the meltingly fresh ricotta and sweet, soft onions.
Paired with a glass of minerally Sicilian white wine, Etna, Bianco Graci, I suspect no one would have minded having seconds of this dish.
Salmon crudo with chioggia beetroot and marigold shoots was a pretty pink plateful. Chioggia beets are those candy striped heritage ones that make for a cheffy presentation. Our wine, Kerner Isarco 2014, an Italian specialist DOC made from the Kerner Grape, a Reisling/Schiava cross, was a subtle and impressive pairing with the sweetness of Riesling combined with a sharp, mouth-watering acidity. A great complement to the rather earthy salmon and beetroot dish.
The main course for me was a charred farinata with grilled Spring lamb and crushed green herbs. The only hot dish on the menu, I was a little disappointed by the lamb which for me, was rather too well done. But, I guess serving 50 or so guests simultaneously has its hazards. And one diner’s well done is another’s perfection. My pescatarian companion had the same dish with fish (sea bass I think), and I have to admit to a little food envy. The paired Cos Cerasulo worked well though, another Sicilian wine, this one a rich and earthy red
The next dish should perhaps have been my nemesis. I have a strawberry allergy and normally avoid anything that involves the lush red fruits, unless of course they are cooked. But, the pretty wild strawberry tartlet with mascarpone cream looked just too delicious. And, as it turns out, wild strawberries are fine. I ate the whole thing, gentle reader, and lived to tell the tale.
Meanwhile, if you are keen to share the experience, there’s one more event with Michelin-starred chef Alyn Williams tomorrow night as well as an ongoing Live in Italian pop-up until the 7th August Tickets are available online but if you have any further questions please call +44 (0)20 7235 5250 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to speak to a member of the Fifth Floor team.