dinner by heston blumenthal

Ordinarily, dining at a restaurant within a fortnight of its opening would be considered quick on the draw. Not so when the place in question is Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The molecular maestro’s first project in London is helmed by Ashley Palmer-Watts, the former head executive chef at The Fat Duck, and showcases a menu inspired by British dishes of yore. Knowing that if the magnificent medieval creations in Heston’s Feasts were anything to go by, Dinner would be pretty special, so I scurried for a table when online bookings opened months ago. Unsurprisingly scores of critics (professional or otherwise) had already visited prior to my allotted 230pm lunch sitting, and having read all their accounts I was suitably amped up by the time I stood before the reception’s colour-shifting fruit display.

The first to arrive in my party of four, I glanced briefly at the menu that I had already memorised then looked up to survey the space. A glass-encased kitchen took pride of place in the room, with a series of expansive windows lining one wall and brown leather panels (some oddly ajar, exposing bare brick beneath) covering the other. There were a few playful touches to the decor (the jelly mold light fixtures being one) but the decor to me still felt a tad corporate and stilted.

Once everyone had taken their seats, the waiter sauntered over to explain the menu and announce that the Beef Royale (a 72 hour slow cooked Short Rib of Angus) that I had set my heart on was sold out. When he reappeared to inform us the popular Tipsy Cake had also run out, we swiftly placed our orders before he could lay on more bad news. Food orders taken, we turned our attention to the beverages. It was a struggle to find anything that would be considered remotely good value on the list and after much studying by all at the table we eventually settled on a bottle of Delamotte Blanc de Blancs to start, followed by an approachable Italian red, both around £90 a pop.

It was coming to 3pm and we were starved, so it was a relief that starters were quick to arrive. The Broth of Lamb chosen by two at the table consisted of slow cooked Hen’s Egg, Celery, Radish, Turnip and Sweetbread Fritters swimming in a sea of intense broth. Texturally pleasing, with expertly-fried offal (crunchy on the outside, creamy within) and supple soft egg it should have been my dream dish; yet I failed to fall completely in love with it. Perhaps the vegetable notes in the soup, faintly reminiscent of Chinese herbal medicine, was what put me off.

Still, I liked it better than the Savoury Porridge of Cod Cheeks, Pickled Beetroot, Garlic and Fennel – a somewhat less successful version of the famous Snail Porridge at The Fat Duck. The cold salad garnish and lukewarm fish-studded gruel didn’t meld harmoniously, however I did enjoy the gelatinous quality of the barely-cooked fish cheeks.

The gorily-titled Rice and Flesh (saffron risotto with red wine-braised calf tail) was well-received by fellow diner A, although he did comment on the measly portions of tail meat dotted around the al dente grains.

In addition to our individual starters we shared the much-talked-about Meat Fruit, and exquisitely crafted “Mandarin” filled with Chicken Liver Parfait and served alongside Grilled Bread which we all agreed to be the best of the lot. The silky smooth parfait paired brilliantly with the mandarin jelly, and its novel presentation (in actuality not that novel, as it can be traced back to c.1500) was an added thrill.

The mains were less quirky but well executed, with excellently-sourced produce. My Black Foot Pork Chop served with Robert Sauce was a fine porcine specimen – a tasty charred slab, juicy from the even amount of fat running through it.

B’s Spiced Pigeon with Ale and Artichokes was equally delicious, the roasted vegetables tender and meat moist, cooked to a perfect pink. Our dining companions raved about the Powdered Duck with Smoked Fennel, and thought the Sirloin of Black Angus (supplied by Jack O’Shea) with Red Wine Jus a very solid offering. Sides of Potato Purée, Carrots and Pointy Cabbage were standard, but everyone was quite taken by the chunky Triple-Cooked Chips and the umami-rich Mushroom Ketchup that accompanied the steak.

As competent as the mains were, it was the desserts that really stole the show. A crusty Baked Lemon Suet Pudding oozed a lusty citrusy caramel sauce, the sweetness of which was nicely tempered by the small pool of Jersey Cream.

The elegant lacquered Chocolate Bar was dense and sinful as pudding should be, with a tangy Passion Fruit Jam and zippy Ginger Ice Cream to counterbalance the richness.

Brown Bread Ice Cream with Salted Butter Caramel and Malted Yeast Syrup was admittedly less conventional but the salty edge was intriguing and the dish really grew on me. The thick salted caramel was particularly addictive.

Despite being the prettiest on the plate, the Taffety Tart with Rose, Fennel, Lemon and Blackcurrant Sorbet was liked least by all; the consensus being that the sorbet and jelly layer were too tart and acidic, overwhelming the other more delicate components.

A last treat of creamy Earl Grey Ganache and flaky Shortbread was presented with our coffee and tea, bringing our meal to a sweet end.

Overall we couldn’t fault the cooking but the service was both stiff and not particularly forthcoming, leaving much to be desired. Dinner also lacks the wow of Fat Duck; yes it doesn’t profess to be the sequel of the Heston’s Michelin-starred flagship but surely this should then be reflected in the prices. However the historic slant makes it worth a visit (if you can secure a table that is – the restaurant is currently fully booked until June), just don’t expect scented smoke, nitro concoctions or dinner music concealed in seashells.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge
London SW1X 7LA

t. 020 7201 3833

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon

~ by gourmettraveller on February 25, 2011.

11 Responses to “dinner by heston blumenthal”

  1. Great photos! Very unlucky to run out both Beef Royal and Tipsy cake at the same time. We had both and they were amazing!

    Was the spit roasting/ clockwork device working when you went? I really like it and even took a video!

    Here is what we have eaten. It was great fun to eat there.

  2. I was gutted that I had to give away my reservation due to budgetary constraints but now the more I read about it, the more relieved I am…

  3. Oh, you are SO lucky. I wish I could have sampled all of these dishes. I just love pigeon, though, so perhaps would go for that one. Desserts look great, even if there are no macarons ;-) Thanks for sharing your review. Have a super weekend.

  4. that meat fruit is craziness!!! if only they could do this with a vegan/vegetarian menu. i think i’d travel across the world for it =) thanks for sharing. cheers.

  5. Your photos have suddenly improved 100%…New camera ? Loving your Heston pics , studied them very carefully….Top marks.
    Just about to dip my meat fruits so best go do it…ill post pics “if” it works out.

  6. I love em GT , Ive revisited these pics several times in the last few days.My manager was asking me what camera youre using as he wants one.If i remember correctly its a discreet point n shoot with a leica lens isnt it….I want one.
    Thanks for your lovely comments today , made me very happy and ive told quite a few people what you wrote…made my monday a happy one.
    Ive got pics to edit from Champignon sauvage and Northcote manor from the weekend so watch out for those in the next few days.
    Lenclume next tuesday for the 16 course Jason atherton / simon rogan night…wow.
    Keep on doing what you do , I love your blogs…and your photos even more.

    • Yes, the Leica C-Lux 2. It’s great where there’s good/natural light but pretty useless in dim situations so I’ve been thinking about upgrading to the X1 (holding back for now though as it’s quite dear!)

      The Atherton/Rogan evening sounds awesome! I’ve also been wanting to get to Champignon Sauvage so definitely will be keeping an eye on your blog for the upcoming posts.

  7. Your photos are absolutely gorgeous! Looks almost too good to eat!

  8. Great post. Interesting, delicious kind of foods. Always keep more interesting publications.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: