Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
I was born around Christmas time and when I was in my youth it was brilliant, as once a year I would receive double presents or one big present. As I got older this didn’t always happen but this year my wonderful wife and family surprised me with a joint Christmas and birthday present of a night in London and a meal at Dinner. I am a big fan of Heston Blumenthal’s TV shows and his amazing creations, so was buzzing with excitement at the thought of dining at one of his restaurants.
Dinner is situated within the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Hyde Park, London. Ashley Palmer-Watt, who heads up the kitchen at Dinner, has worked with Heston to create a unique menu of historically inspired British dishes. The original recipes on which they are based date back through the past five centuries with modern techniques being used to update them for today’s discerning pallets. Dinner has been awarded a Michelin star and appears at no.9 in the San Pellegrino World’s 50 best restaurants.
To start, my wife Claire had the Meat Fruit (c.1500 – pictured, left) which is the most famous and most ordered dish served here. A wooden block presented a piece of grilled bread and what appeared to be half a mandarin complete with green stalk. When it was cut into, it revealed a delicious combination of mandarin jelly, chicken liver and foie gras parfait. You can see why people come back again and again to consume this dish as it simply melted in the mouth and each individual ingredient could be made out. I had the Buttered Crab Loaf (c.1710) which was a rectangular slice of brioche soaked in crab juices served with cucumber, pickled lemon, herring roe and stone crop. The brioche was light but packed full of flavour and the extras made it another winning dish which I didn’t want to end.
For the main course Claire had Cod in Cider (c.1940) with Chard and fired mussels. The Cod was light in texture and slowly melted on the tongue and was unlike any fish dish I have eaten before. I went for the Fillet of Aberdeen Angus (c.1830) which I was recommended to have medium rare by the waiter. He was not wrong. This being a Heston establishment the fillet was cooked sous vide in a water bath and then finished off before serving. This fillet was cooked perfectly inside and was soft and required barely any chewing. The triple cooked chips were crispy on the outside and fluffy inside and the mushroom ketchup was to die for and I will be attempting to recreate it one day at home!
Then came the difficult decision of what to have for dessert as I have a real sweet tooth and this was the course to which I was most looking forward. I plumped for the Tipsy Cake (c.1810 – pictured, top) which I had to order at the beginning of the meal as it takes two hours to spit roast the pineapple that accompanies the dish. The cake itself was a very rich brioche soaked in brandy and whisky cream and went perfectly with the tartness of the pineapple. If I could only eat one dessert for the rest of my life then this would be it. Claire chose the Chocolate Bar (c.1730 – pictured, right). This was shaped unsurprisingly like a thin chocolate bar with a a crumbly biscuit base, passion fruit jam and covered in think deliciously rich chocolate and accompanied by ginger ice cream.
To finish we were given small shot glass of tea-flavoured chocolate in which to dip a long savoury biscuit made of caraway seeds. If you’re old enough to remember “chop and dip” then you would appreciate this truly adult version of that cult 80’s classic snack.
The service, surroundings and wine list are what you would expect from a Michelin starred establishment and we were very well looked after by the staff. It is not as crazy or wacky as Heston’s Fat Duck flagship restaurant but the food here is the real star of the show and I hope one day I get a chance to return. The only downside is that the experience has left me plotting as to how I can take over from Greg Wallace of Masterchef so that I can eat like this every day.