The Fat Duck may be Heston Blumenthal’s flagship restaurant but if one should believe The World’s 50 Best Restaurants it’s actually his London restaurant Dinner by Heston Blumenthal which is the better one. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which is located inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, opened in 2011 and holds two Michelin stars. It’s open for both lunch and dinner, monday through sunday. Unlike most top restaurants this is an à la carte-restaurant. You can have a tasting menu, but only at the chef’s table. Head Chef is Ashley Palmer-Watts.
At Dinner by Heston Blumenthal all the dishes on the menu are based on old british dishes that have been revised and modernized. The oldest recipe on the menu at the time of my visit dated back to 1390. In Heston Blumenthal’s book ”Historic Heston” you can read more about the dishes and the creative process behind them. There clearly lies an incredible effort behind all the recipes. Heston Blumenthal has been studying old cookbooks for a very long time before opening Dinner. Historic Heston provides very fascinating reading and is, just like The Big Fat Duck Cookbook, a must in every foodies book shelf.
I had lunch on March 26, 2014. I had not planned to visit Dinner when I was in London but when my plane from Stockholm landed ahead of scheduled time there was suddenly time for a late lunch. I had not made a reservation but still managed to secure a table when I came to the restaurant.
Meat Fruit c 1500. Mandarin, chicken livet and foie gras parfait. Grilled bread
The Meat Fruit is the signature dish at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. As you probably know The Meat Friuit is a chicken liver and foie gras parfait covered with a thin layer of mandarin jelly that looks exactly like a real mandarin (the leaves were just for decoration). The parfait had a very delicate flavour and smooth texture. I was very impressed with how they make the meat fruit look just like an actual mandarin. It for sure takes a lot of technical skill to do this. I can see why people in the 1500-hundreds thought it was fun to make meat look like a fruit (according to the book many were wary about eating raw fruit and therefore would approach a dish like this with caution) but in the Internet age it sort of looses its surprise effect as you already know what it is. This dish was very good but apart from the impressive technical skills – and the history behind it – not really that special.
Cod in Cider c. 1940. Chard, onions and smoked artichokes
A piece of pan-fried cod was served with some kind of butter and cider sauce, smoked artichokes, pan-fried onions and chard. The dish had a lot of flavor yet it was very light with the sauce providing fine acidity balancing the light smokiness of the artichokes and the sweetness of the butter and onions. The onions could have been cooked slightly longer but except for that very minor remark this was a great dish. Absolutely delicious.
Poached Rhubarb c. 1590. Rosehip jam, yoghurt cream and rhubarb sorbet
Rhubarb in different textures was served with rosehip jam and yoghurt cream. This dish was as delicious as it was beautiful. It had a perfect balance of creaminess, crunchiness and the softness of the fruit. The rosehip added a sort of backbone to the light and sour rhubarb. Excellent.
I am very glad that I made it to Dinner but I am not so sure I will return. It’s a little bit difficult to explain why. Nothing was bad and two of three courses were excellent. But despite that I didn’t really find the food that special. I am very impressed by all the research behind the dishes but except for the Meat Fruit you do not really notice the historical aspects unless you know about it. Of the three restaurants that I visited on this trip to London I would rank Dinner last. Reviews of two stunning meals at Hedone and The Sportsman will come soon on the blog. It feels a bit unfair saying that the food wasn’t special because the food was very good and Dinner is without doubt worth its two Michelin stars, but it’s not top ten in the world.
You can find high resolution pictures from my dinner on Flickr