Okay, I’m just gonna say it, I love food. Great food makes me feel happy and content no matter what else may be going on in my life. Tonight, however, I didn’t have great food, I had insanely amazing food.
Anything with Heston Blumenthal’s name to it (from Waitrose products to the Fat Duck) should be tasty and innovative, so when I managed to get a reservation at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at just over a week’s notice, it’s fair to say I was pretty excited.
At this point it seems fair to praise the reservations team who managed to put up with my frankly begging request for a table and find me a slot for 2 at 7:30 on a day I requested. Just in case you’re thinking of booking- do be aware that they will take credit card details and charge you £50 per person if you don’t make it or cancel with less than 4 days notice.
So come this dreary Wednesday evening (and google maps inconveniently sending me the wrong direction), a friend and I arrived at the Mandarin Hotel in Knightsbridge for dinner and were seated straight away. The dining room is wonderful, it feels spacious and open while still being busy enough to create an atmosphere. The kitchen is in the same room (ish), behind a glass wall so that you can see your food being cooked (very brave chefs). Recently I’ve had a bit of a thing for a nice big table so you can fit all the yummy sides on, and the ones at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal fit the bill nicely, no knocking elbows with the next door diners here.
Starter- Earl Grey Tea Cured Salmon
The cured salmon was served with lemon salad, gentleman’s relish, wood sorrel & smoked roe. It was beautiful- rather like my favourite sushi dish, salmon sashimi, but then with just a hint of the aromatic tea flavour. The lemon in the gel and the sauce was really strong and powerfully citrusy but without over powering the salmon. It was a stunning mix of flavours.
The dish you can see in the back ground is meat fruit- their signature starter. This is a clever dish of a foie gras and chicken liver parfait dipped in mandarin jelly to take on the appearance of a mandarin and then served with a piece of toasted brioche. The parfait itself was lovely and smooth with a subtle alcoholicy flavour and the mandarin jelly (this is going to sound silly, I know) tasted exactly like a mandarin. Together the combination was delightful and spreading it on the brioche was like the best pâté on toast I’ve ever eaten.
Main- Fillet of Aberdeen Angus
I do love a good, delicious piece of cow. This one was served with a little bone marrow on top, a beef jus, mushroom ketchup and came with a side of triple cooked fries. We also ordered the braised lettuce and peas and carrots with caraway.
It was sooooo yummy! The beef was cooked just perfectly for me, it almost had a little crunch on the outside and was lovely and pink and soft in the centre. The jus tasted like it may have had some ale in and when I poured it on the beef it was shiny and wonderfully reduced and thick. The bone marrow (which I’ve never had before) was sort of soft and butter-like but there wasn’t really enough on the plate for me to judge it properly. Mushroom ketchup was an interesting one, I adore mushrooms but it was slightly too acidic for me. The fries were delightful- very soft and (watch out another silly one) potatoey inside (well they’re not nice when the potato goes all dry and non existent). The outside was crispy and salty and just yummy. The sides were also lovely- I think I’m developing a thing for cooked lettuce after having it at the Hand and Flowers a few weeks ago and the carrots in caraway had a subtle spice to them from being (presumably) roasted.
Yes, essentially, this was steak, chips and peas but my Goodness it was an epic one.
My friend decided to have the Black Foot Pork Chop with cabbage, lardo, ham hock & Robert sauce. It was just beautiful. I have never tasted a pork chop like this. There wasn’t a hint of the dry-ness I normally associate with pork, instead it was soft and moist and delightful.
Dessert – Taffety Tart
So I order dessert and I’m wondering how apple, rose and fennel are going to work to make something delicious. I’m not sure I’d describe this as a tart but then this is supposed to be a modern twist on historical cooking, so I’ll let it off. The base was sort of biscuity, topped by a layer of rose and fennel jam, a thin layer of pastry, a creamy apple thing and another layer of pastry. This was accompanied by vanilla ice cream and candied rose petals. It looked beautiful.
I was absolutely blown away by the taste though. When I first ate it, it was sweet and fruity and jammy but then it slowly turned into an after note of aniseed-y fennel. It was complex and an absolutely new sensation to my palate. Delicious.
My friend went for another of their signature dishes- the tipsy cake. This is essentially cooked brioche and a roasted pineapple and it is buttery and warming and so so good. I think his blog describes it better though and you can check it out here: Rob’s Food Blog Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Review
Complimentary dessert – chocolate and orange blossom ganache with caraway biscuit
Just when I thought I was finished for the night, out came a complimentary dessert. I have to admit I thought the seeds in the biscuit were lavender to begin with but research informs me it was in fact caraway. The biscuit (as you can guess from my mistake) was floral and the ganache was super smooth and delicious. A lovely way to finish dinner.
The idea of the restaurant is that old British classic dishes are brought right up to date. The menu tells you the date from which the dish originates and the cookery book from which the chefs drew inspiration. It’s difficult to say what British cooking really is, aside from the English breakfast and good old roast beef, but Dinner really delivers some truly beautiful British dishes. This is coupled with a beautiful dining room and truly excellent service. It’s not cheap (the place is the 7th best restaurant in the world at the moment, it was never going to be) but it’s so worth it.