|Dinner by Heston|
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
London SW1X 7LA
Next stop on our London Weekend of Eating - after breakfast at Ottolenghi, and an appetite-inducing walk through Borough Market - was lunch at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Months ago, when I was in pre-trip planning mode, I had thought of making a trip to The Fat Duck, but apparently, if you have dinner there, you have to stay the night in Bray, as the trains back to London finish earlier than the tasting menu does! (A clever move by the Bray tourism commission, perhaps?) My trip to Germany was already quite short, and taking five days out for London and Paris was already a bit of a stretch, so I canned the idea of The Fat Duck, and chose Heston's more casual restaurant, Dinner, instead - right in the heart of London! As a bonus, my dad generously offered to shout my meal too - thank-you Dad!!
|The dining room|
Booking a table at Dinner was quite easy - even though they have an online form for reservations, which "operates on a ninety day rolling basis", I just emailed them eight weeks before my desired date with my time preferences, and they responded very promptly and slotted me in at an available time. Easy! (N.B. you do need to give credit card details to secure the booking, so you can't just book for a bunch of different dates and rock up whenever you want!)
On the plane from Melbourne, the in-flight entertainment system happened to have How to Cook Like Heston available! I watched the episodes: "Chocolate", "Cheese", and "Potatoes" - and totally drooled over his famous triple-cooked chips! I could not wait to try them for myself!
Dinner is located in the rather upmarket Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, but the restaurant itself doesn't feel stuffy at all. In fact, the stated dress code is: "comfortable", and most people seemed to opt for smart-casual. Clarice and I found all the waitstaff to be well-presented and professional, but still warm and friendly. We also appreciated the whimsical touches around the dining area. Look - jelly mould lamps!
We started with some house-made bread, served warm with delicious salted butter. The bread was sourdough, crusty on the outside, and wonderfully chewy on the inside.
|Meat Fruit (c.1500) - Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread - £15.00|
|Mmm, smooth parfait|
While we're on the topic of the Meat Fruit, let me tell you about the decidedly disinterested couple who happened to be sitting next to us at the restaurant. (You may remember that we sat next to a similarly disinterested customer at Ottolenghi!) While Clarice and I were thrilled that we'd secured a table, having booked weeks in advance, and were marvelling at the incredible construction of the Meat Fruit, the young Malaysian-Chinese (like me!) couple next to us looked like they were about to fall asleep. They had been sharing a perfect-looking bone-in rib of Hereford prime beef with triple cooked chips, had gotten through half of it, and were just poking disinterestedly the remaining half with their forks, not talking to each other, and not seeming to care that there was a totally amazing meal sitting in front of them. They got desserts too, but didn't seem to care about them either. In fact, the most animated they got was when they asked a waiter to take a photo of them. Oh well, who am I to judge - people get tired, get full, aren't as food obsessed as my friends and I are. (And there I was thinking that all Malaysians are obsessed with food!) I just thought it was a very funny contrast to our enthusiasm!
So! Back to more pressing matters...
|Roast Turbot (c.1830) - Leaf chicory, sea purslane & cockle ketchup - £34.00|
|Hereford Ribeye (c.1830) - Mushroom ketchup & triple cooked chips - £34.00|
|Left to right: mushroom ketchup, triple-cooked chips, jus|
Dessert! While we're here, let me take a moment to say that I found the ye olde British names of the dishes (with historical dates for reference) on the menu quite charming. As you can see in my blog's sidebar, one of my current culinary passions is traditional British food, so I found this all very fascinating!
|Quaking Pudding (c.1660) - Pear, perry, caramel & lime - £10.00|
|Brown Bread Ice Cream (c.1830) - Salted butter caramel, pear & malted yeast syrup - £9.00|
|Brown Bread Ice-Cream|
If you want a bit of theatre, you can order scoops of vanilla ice-cream as a kind of mini-dessert, which are made to order at your table with liquid nitrogen. But, they were £8 a scoop, and more importantly, we were very full, so we decided to skip that! (We saw some being made at the surrounding tables and they looked very cool, but I think we made a better choice by ordering the desserts).
We finished off with coffee and tea, and another little sweet surprise.
|Espresso - £3.50|
|Whole Rose Buds (Iran) - Light, graceful, notes of sweet-edged rose - £6.00|
|Chocolate ganache, caraway seed biscuit|
At the end of the meal, we were presented with a little pot of chocolate ganache, served with a crisp caraway seed biscuit - a lovely way to round off the meal. The inclusion of caraway was, for me, unusual, but very welcome. And a reminder that I want to try making seed cake one day! (As read about in Jane Eyre, and in Nigella's Kitchen).
So that was lunch at Dinner! We had such a wonderful time, and literally couldn't fault the meal. Absolutely make the time for a visit if you are in London!