The other week i completed one of the items on my 2014 bucket list finally treating my inner foodie to a long overdue meal in a Michelin Star restaurant. Not one to do things by halves i skipped the first star and went straight for a two star restaurant in the hub of the ever-beautiful Knightsbridge – Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
Located inside the beautiful Mandarin Oriental, Dinner By Heston Blumenthal is an eatery inspired by British gastronomy oozing with elegance but not one drop of pretension. The kitchen is headed up by the wonderful Ashley Palmer-Watts and produces a stunning menu filled with the sort of quirky dishes you’d expect from a Heston establishment without being so experimental as to frighten off the casual diner. My experience couldn’t have been more perfect and i’ve been dying to share it with you in case anyone is looking for a very special place to eat on their next visit to the big smoke.
The interior of dinner holds just the right amount of elegance with floor to ceiling glass walls revealing the wine stores and busy kitchen, contemporary lighting and views of Hyde Park’s lovely gardens. We were sat by the window and even on a grey British afternoon the view was wonderful and it created an atmosphere second to none. Before we even get on to the food, i wanted to make a note about the staff at Dinner who were the most professional, helpful and approachable waiting staff i’ve ever experienced. Those who are a little apprehensive about stepping into a Heston Blumenthal restaurant for fear of being made to look silly if you didn’t know what something was on the menu need not to worry, the staff at Dinner are so friendly making your feel right at home. They made conversation without being over-familier, knew the answer to every question we threw at them and were so discreet clearing plates and filling wine glasses – got to love a magic wine glass, especially with wine as good as this.
The Wine List | Rallo Bianco D’Evro Insolia
I didn’t get a chance to look at the wine list as one of our party with a fantastic palette picked for us, but from what i gather there aren’t many bottles worth ordering below the £40 mark. An ice cold bottle of Bianco D’Evro Insolia – a delectable Italian white – graced our glasses and as soon as it touched my lips it shot straight to the top of my personal favourite wine list – i’ve been on a mission to find a case ever since. Our Sommelier was incredibly knowledgeable chatting away (in Italian) to our designated wine picker and is more than happy to work to a budget if you didn’t fancy dropping over 100 big ones on a bottle, no hard sell, no pressure.
Starter | Meat Fruit (£17.50)
To start i was completely torn, i could have eaten anything on the menu but i decided on Meat Fruit a Chicken Liver & Fois Gras Parfait with Mandarin Jelly and Grilled Bread. I must have forgotten where i was at first because when it arrived i was a little confused – who ordered the orange? But of course, we’re at Heston’s where nothing is as it seems. Cutting into that delectable mandarin jelly revealed one of the smoothest, richest and most delicious parfaits i’ve ever tasted and paired with the generous slice of grilled bread i was in heaven. Sadly the kitchen were still working on creating an edible stalk so if you do visit and order Meat Fruit, please don’t eat the shrubbery!
Main | Powdered Duck Breast, Smoked Confit Fennel & Umbles (£34)
Again i found it hard to choose a main with everything sounding so delicious. I was almost swayed by the Hereford Ribeye (£38) but instead o went for the Powdered Duck Breast, umbles and all. The last time i visited Paris i ate one of the best duck breasts i’ve ever witnessed at a restaurant (the name of which escpaes me) along George V and since then, like Marshall from How I Met Your Mother with his ‘Best Burger In New York’ no duck has been able to come close and i am constantly searching for that wonderful taste once more. And do you know what? I think i found it. Served pink as per the chef’s recommendation my duck breast was succulent and bursting with flavour. Balanced perfectly with the roasted fennel and umbles (an ingredient i had to ask about – heart, liver and kidneys for those wondering, eeek!) it created a wonderfully rich and hearty dish that along with a side of super smooth and creamy Mashed Potatoes left me very happy indeed. I would recommend this dish to any duck lover and i’d devour it again in a heartbeat.
Dessert | Chocolate Bar (£12.50)
By the time dessert came around we were all pretty full but managed to find a little hole for pudding. I was incredibly tempted by Heston’s famous Tipsy Cake (£14) that has to be ordered with your starters as it takes 40 minutes to prepare, but in the end i went for the Chocolate Bar – a rich deep chocolate slab filled with passion fruit jam and served with Ginger ice cream. The chocolate was dark and pure with the sweet but sharp passion fruit jam running along the bottom helping to cut through the richness. The Ginger ice cream was fierce and fiery complimenting it’s chocolatey counterpart perfectly making this one indulgent dessert, ideal for the dark chocolate lovers out there. I did sneak a taste of one of the table’s Tipsy Cakes and it was incredible! When i visit again, i’m going straight for that bad boy.
Après | Iranian Rose Bud Tea (£5.50) & Complimentary Earl Grey Chocolate Ganache with Caraway Seed Biscuit
After our desserts we couldn’t resist a spot of tea from the extensive menu. I chose an Iranian Rose Bud Tea which tasted like hot liquid Turkish delight, it was incredible. Presented in an adorable glass teapot with clever insulated cups it was both the most delicious (and expensive!) cup of tea i’ve ever tried! Served alongside a complimentary Earl Grey infused Chocolate Ganache with Caraway Seed Biscuits it would be the perfect end for those who couldn’t tackle a full dessert.
The portion sizes at Dinner really surprised me. I was expecting silly miniature food often associated with ‘fancy restaurants’ but i was pleasantly surprised with the amount of food you get with each dish. No-one went hungry and you really do get a lot for your money which with a three course menu at lunchtime coming in at £38 per head is extremely good value for a 2 star restaurant in the center of London.
Would i go back to Dinner? Absolutely. In fact, we’re already planning another visit next month. I cannot rave about the food enough and coupled with the contemporary interiors, healthy portion sizes and completely professional but relaxed waiting staff Dinner seriously impressed me and i’d recommend it to anyone looking for a truly wonderful British gastronomic experience.
You can take a look at the current menu and book a table on their website here.
Have you visited Dinner by Heston Blumenthal? What was your favourite dish?
Tweet me @xameliax #dinnerbyheston