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London: Dinner by Heston Blummenthal (*)

19 Jul

Last year, I tried making reservations at Fat Duck to no avail. So you can imagine how excited I was when Heston Blummenthal actually opened another restaurant in London – Dinner by Heston Blummenthal. Naturally, it was fully booked by the time I started planning my trip and I almost had to bid for a reservation on eBay! Thankfully there were seats available when I was monitoring the site nearer to date and I managed to get a reservation. Score :)

If you’re wondering, Dinner by Heston is not an outpost of Fat Duck – it does not revolve around molecular gastronomy. Its menu comprises of historical British dishes modernly reinterpreted, and also incorporates a playful element. It’s also more wallet friendly compared to Fat Duck. There were a fair bit of dishes that included animal parts such as liver, bone marrow and oysters which I suppose were more prevalent in the past.

Since Dinner by Heston is situated in the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental Hotel, we could not resist ordering some of the signature cocktails from their Mandarin Bar. This was the Bellini and the Blackberry Mojito. Loved the hugeass frosted glass my mojito came in.

A platter of country bread was served with butter and a sprinkle of sea salt on top. Crispy crusts, fluffy insides.

Since Dinner by Heston is about reinterpreting traditional British dishes, the menu also states the year when the dish was invented, which I thought was a cute touch. The Roast Marrowbone (c.1720), Parsley, Anchovy and Mace, Pickled Vegetables (£15) was on first bite unctuous, but the accompanying vegetables and pickles cut through the oiliness and saltiness of the marrow/anchovies.

Our next appetiser was the iconic Meat Fruit (c.1500), Mandarin, Chicken Liver Parfait and Grilled Bread (£14.50). If you have read anything about the restaurant before previously, this dish must have been mentioned. Though it looks exactly like a mandarin orange, looks are deceiving – it’s actually chicken liver of a very smooth, mousse like consistency encased in an orange gel casing. The taste was actually quite refreshing and the texture, very light. I also loved the uber crispy bread slices that came for spreading it on. Also befitting that it’s a signature dish for a restaurant housed in a Mandarin Oriental hotel, yes?

A look at the inside.

We traded a main for another appetiser since we both prefer appetisers over mains in general. This was the Roast Scallops (c.1820), Cucumber Ketchup and Borage. I thought the scallops were well seasoned and seared, and I liked the cucumber ketchup which was essentially a ketchup tasting sauce made out of cucumbers. Ingenious.

Our main of Cod In Cider (c.1940), Chard and Fired Mussels (£26.00) was perfect! Though this was simple and nothing really whimsical, this was hands down my favourite dish. I loved the plumpness of the mussels, the texture of the fish and the light but flavourful cider sauce.

I read about the off the menu Triple Cooked Fries on some blogs, and decided to get us a cup. They were really quite crispy without being/smelling burnt.

Another one of the supposedly must try dishes is the Tipsy Cake (c.1810), Spit Roast Pineapple (£10.00). It’s served in a mini cast iron Staub pot and is drenched with a sweet liquor (rum maybe?). Texture wise, the cake tasted more like a brioche. The accompanying slice of pineapple served fresh from the spit was lovely – juicy, slightly smokey and sweet.

The Summer Tart (c.1720) Macerated Strawberries, Chamomile, Biscuit Ice Cream and Violet was pretty as a picture and truly reminiscent of the flavours of an English summer. But I had a nagging feeling that perhaps we should have explored more exciting dessert options like Taffety Tart!

To round up our meal, we were served a complimentary dessert of Earl Grey Cream with a Caraway Cracker. Somehow it tasted very Asian – the cream like a milk tea, and the cracker somewhat Indian. Interesting combination of sweet and spicy.

The gorgeous dining room overlooks Hyde Park and is filled with natural light, my pictures does not do justice at all. Though elegant, it’s quite a casual place despite its exclusive address and the famous chef-owner behind it.

Though food wise, I certainly can’t complain about anything I had, only 2-3 dishes to me were truly outstanding. I really wanted to love Dinner by Heston, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. It could have been a case of too high expectations on my part, because of its brand name, popularity and a long anticipation on my part. Nevertheless, I think it’s definitely worth a visit to experience its unique concept of modern day interpretations of traditional British dishes, and to try some of its signature dishes. Plus it’s really much more convenient and affordable than dining at The Fat Duck.

Price: $$$-$$$$
Location: Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
Tel: +44 20 7201 3833