Tom Sellers’ highly creative new restaurant Dovetale shows the twice-starred chef has lots more to give, says Adam Bloodworth
There’s no way of writing about Tom Sellers without talking about his bad boy reputation. I ask one staff member if he’s been exhibiting his notorious acerbic nature – to put it politely – in the kitchen. “He is a chef,” they say. I don’t entirely know what that means, but I do know one thing: he is a chef who, with Dovetale, should be well on his way to a third Michelin star.
Tom Sellers’ new restaurant, Dovetale, is the sort of restaurant that not only reminds you why Sellers has two Michelin stars at his other place, Restaurant Story, but positively slaps you in the chops, again and again, with ingenuity.
It is the flagship restaurant at the newly-opened 1 Hotel Mayfair, the first UK outpost of a US hotel brand. 1 Hotel Mayfair is the sort of shiny new Mayfair hotel that is already featuring on the Instagram accounts of actors and models; just this week James Norton raised a glass there to celebrate the end of his show A Little Life, one of the most exciting West End show openings of the year.
Dishes arrive gorgeously crafted, some with the intricate beauty of paintings, like the punchy ratatouille, a signature of Sellers, with its circles of thinly sliced tomatoes arranged in circles, like cascading pennies crushed together in a beachfront slot machine. Someone, almost certainly not Sellers, spent hours crafting this. Or the dressed Cornish crab that was served in such a perfect circle against a backdrop of egg cubes that it reminded me of the pleasing moment when you remove masking tape from a painted wall, revealing the crisp line where both colours meet.
Sellers has a God given talent for creating dishes that are partially familiar but then yank you in a surprising direction. Orkney scallops are pepped up with slices of Amalfi lemon, the sharpness brought down a peg by an oil dressing that finds harmony between the fish and citrus. But the chunks of scallop were just a little too thin to properly taste.
It was only a small thing. The dishes kept coming. A carpaccio of Wagyu beef was served with beef fat chips to wrap the steak around, which was as fun as it sounds and then a little bit more fun on top. Oh, and the combination tasted heavenly. Carpaccio of artichoke with black truffle dressing was pretty like the ratatouille, a statement of how inventive methods of preparation can be dreamed up for vegetables too. Braised cuttlefish in tomatoes and rosemary had the fresh but comforting zing of a dish homemade by an Italian nonna who has made this same meal every day of her life.
To the mains, and Dover sole with cauliflower, grapes and tarragon was an exercise in subtlety and created another colourful wash on the plate that looked so frustratingly perfect it could have sat for its own self portrait. Pink roasted lamb was exquisitely cooked, with gentle yogurt and wild capers and the exciting addition of charred lettuce for an intriguing smoky edge.
Sellers has fire in his belly yet.
Book Dovetale online