I'm pleased we managed to avoid the norovirus that resulted in Heston closing Dinner recently but that news still doesn't take away from the memorable lunch we had there in December. Set in the Mandarin Oriental with a breathtaking view of Hyde Park, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is the chef's two Michelin starred, London restaurant. Prior to our trip I had planned to book Dinner and Gordon Ramsey at Royal Hospital Road but time didn't allow for it, so Dinner was to be our sole London fine dining experience.
The restaurant is typical of one located in a hotel- quite conservative and perhaps slightly lacking in atmosphere but certainly not unpleasant. We were seated at a table with a view of the kitchen and a view of Hyde Park. We decided to try the set menu (a lot more cost effective) and add on any 'must haves' aka Meat Fruit. The wait staff were efficient and polite with the maitre' d being the most personable of the lot.
We started with crusty sourdough and butter, the best I ever encountered in London and the Meat Fruit.
The Meat Fruit is a thing of beauty. You are loathe to cut into it because it is so perfect to look at. Chicken liver and foie gras parfait is moulded and encased in a mandarin jelly to look exactly like a mandarin complete with stem. Even the jelly is ever so slightly pock-marked to resemble the real thing.
The parfait is sinfully creamy and luxurious, the mandarin jelly subtle and the toast the perfect platform to showcase this stunner of an entree. TBS and I were groaning with delight. A complete work of art.
We both chose the Ragoo of Pig's Ear Chewitt as the starter for our set lunch served with a slow cooked egg, anchovy and onions. The delicate ragoo was piled into a buttery puff pastry boat. The puff pastry was light and so easy to cut through and the bottom of the boat wasn't hard and stodgy. The egg was a similar consistency to a 60/60 egg you sometimes find in Melbourne cafes- eggs cooked for 60 minutes at 60 degrees. The pigs ear was finely sliced and retained a bit of bite and had been lovingly cooked with sweet onions and anchovy. TBS and I both found the dish incredibly appealing.
I decided to have the salmon for my main course- it turned out to be the richest, most flavoursome, decadent salmon I have ever eaten. It almost tasted as though it had been injected with brown butter. It was amazing. The tender shrimps, luscious green chard and capers showcased the salmon well and the drizzle of Admiral's sauce (made up of butter, shallots, capers and lemon zest) signed off the best salmon dish I have ever had.
TBS continued with the porcine theme and opted for the slow cooked pork collar. It was served with smoked cabbage, apple and mead. The meat was cooked to perfection, tender, and succulent but slightly crisp round the edges. The wedge of cabbage was charred and smoky but balanced by the sweet quinelle of apple sauce/jelly. TBS loved everything about this dish.
We had green beans and shallots and fries as sides. The green beans were incredibly thin, buttery and cooked until very tender. The fries were a bit thick for my liking and were good but didn't blow me away.
Despite having shared a starter and wolfing down a further two courses, we were eager to see what dessert had in store for us. The wobbly tear drop steeple cream was silky and delightfully infused with vanilla. The poached plums that accompanied the cream were firm and tart in contrast and the syrup if nothing else, completed the dish with its candy pink appeal.
The winner of the two however was the unattractive sounding Prune & Tamarind Tart. TBS was in ecstasy. A thin pastry base was topped with a dense prune and tamarind paste of sorts on which a warm egg custard had been poured. The crisp sugar crust combined with the tangy prune and tamarind and the slippery custard was no match for us. This disappeared in a heartbeat. Wow.
Our meal slowly drew to an end but not before the kitchen presented us with a caraway seed biscuit alongside an Earl Grey and orange blossom chocolate ganache. The fragrant Earl Grey and orange blossom had infused the chocolate completely and each tiny bite was packed with flavour. A most fitting ending.
Don't dine here expecting edible skeletons and giant flying saucers- however it wouldn't be Heston's without a bit of scientific magic, where made to order ice-cream is created in front of diners using liquid nitrogen (unfortunately we were too full to partake!)
A thoughtful, extremely delicious meal with flashes of brilliance.
Good to know:
Finca Colina £45
Set Menu (3 courses) £38
Meat Fruit £17.50
Green beans £4.75
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Telephone +44(0) 20 7201 3833+44(0) 20 7201 3833
Open 7 days
Lunch 12:00pm to 2:30pm
Dinner 6:30pm to 10:30pm
Reservation system operates on a 90 day rolling system.
Images: T B Southam