DINNER by Heston Blumenthal

The latest establishment by Heston Blumenthal lies within the marbled walls of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in the posh Knighstbridge area of London. Since its opening in 2011, it has created a wave of excitement similar to his three Michelin starred Fat Duck at Bray. Blumenthal’s success in ‘transforming’ 13-14th century food won him his first Michelin star in a mere 9 months since opening. That was fast, wasn’t it? And, how did it hold up to the hype?

First of all, the food, as explained by the restaurant’s website, is a representation of historical British gastronomy, which if you ask me, lacks compared to neighboring France, Spain and Portugal. The name, DINNER, in the past, was the main meal eaten at midday, before it got too dark.  But affordable candles and, later, gaslight saw dinner shift.  By the mid-1800s people were dining later.  People working in the cities were taking a ‘lunch’ to work and having their main meal at 5.00pm when they got home, while in rural areas the main meal was still taken at midday.

The restaurant looked everything of a hotel lobby, high ceilings with minimalistic decorations, and a view of Hyde Park. I felt that it did not sit very well with the concept of the food but nonetheless peaceful setting.I arrived for an early lunch with a close friend to find the restaurant almost empty and I immediately questioned the success of the restaurant. However, by 2pm, the restaurant was packed with business suits.

Gin Tonics at Midday? Why not…

The menu is straightforward: no tasting menus, pre-starters or pre-desserts; a set menu is offered for 37 pounds or you may choosea la carte. But not everything on the set menu enticed me and I got to try out some famous dishes from his menu. Each dish is written in italics, is given an original date and on the back of the menu, the dish itself is given a longer explanation as to its source of origin.

Bread and Butter

Unfortunately the white sourdough wasn’t warm or hot with a rather blend taste. It tasted better with the salted butter but still difficult to bite through the tough crust.

The front runner of the restaurant for many critics, and my favorite dish of the meal is the Meat Fruit (circa 1500).

A chicken liver parfait shaped like a mandarin besides 2 sourdough toast. It looked exactly like a mandarin, even up to its pores but inside was a creamy parfait. It melted as soon as I attempted to cut a piece.

Without the grilled bread, it had a hint of sweetness from the mandarin puree but still dominated with a refreshing meaty taste rather than greasy or dense. Perfection.

Black foot Porkchop, Spelt and Robert Sauce (1816 based on Careme’s residency in London)

I’ve been used to eating Iberian Blackfoot pork aka. Jamon Iberico in Spain but never had I tried a cooked pork chop from the same animal. Every bite was as tasty than the last. It came pink, as the Maitre D’, informed us, that’s how they cook it here. No complaints! Next to the pork chop was a very strong flavored spelt with crackling on risotto rice.

 
Cod in Cider (circa 1940) with chard and fired mussels. Well-cooked fish, simple presentation but nothing more to say.
 
 
As for dessert, we were timely informed that the ‘tipsy cake’ takes over 30 minutes to prepare, so we ordered our dessert together as well.
 
Tipsy cake & spit roast pineapple  (1859 The Engish cookery book by J.H.Walsh)
 
 

Tipsy was the perfect description for this cake, which had a bombing alcohol flavour mixed from Brandy and sultana sweet wine. It was the only taste I could detect for a while. Inside the cake lied a creamy filling, and I got addicted to this effect and went on to have a few more spoonfuls. Spit roasted pineapple (which didn’t look like pineapple) was golden and rich with caramel flavour to bring out the freshness of the pineapple. A great mix to the alcoholic tipsy cake.

Chocolate Ganache infused with earl grey tea, Caraway Biscuit
 
 
A very heavy ganache that ended the meal, very strong cacao flavor that was soothed by the salty biscuit.
 
I was surprised that I enjoyed my meal at DINNER. I heard mixed reviews and entered in a mindset with low expectation. A unique concept, some dishes were presented nicely, others could use some work, but then again you are toying around with food from centuries ago, how well could you present them?

The bill came at the end and yes it was quite expensive for what we ate but it was a unique experience with a price tag. Sometimes calling to make a reservation doesn’t really work out, especially with the phones ringing, so I was happy to know that you can book it through opentable.com

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

66 Knightsbrige,
London SW1X 7LA
Telephone: +44 20 7235 2000

Website: http://www.dinnerbyheston.com/

 
 
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  1. […] shapes and sizes of what is on your dinner plate, may not be what it seems (Remember, remember Heston Blumenthals Chicken Liver Parfait Shaped Like A Mandarin?) The delicate texture, being and shape of the caviar has been used famously in […]



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