I only really had to know two things before eating at highly acclaimed Dinner by Heston Blumenthal: Meat Fruit and Tipsy Cake.
Set in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, legendary Heston Blumenthal’s (of the famed Fat Duck) two-Michelin-starred restaurant had just picked up the #5 ranking in the World’s Best Restaurant (by San Pellegrino) and top spot for best in the UK. Apparently diners are reserving up to three months in advance at the internationally renowned restaurant overlooking Hyde Park, but thanks to a London tube strike and a slew of cancelations, I managed to snag a solo table for lunch, at Dinner.
The menu is inspired by old school England, where each dish dates back to the 14th – 19th centuries. It is named after the original definition of dinner: “The main meal of the day, taken either around midday or in the evening.” Head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts spent years working with experts and historians to research Britain’s culinary past, and transform the menu into a modern day edible history book. Each item on the menu comes with a mini description and the year in which the dish originated — Roast Marrowbone from 1720, Nettle Porridge from 1660, Rice & Flesh from 1390, etc.
There were so many intriguing dishes I wanted to try, but luckily the decision came easy as I knew what I had come for –> Bring on the Meat Fruit.
Meat Fruit, circa 1500: chicken liver foie gras mousse parfait, coated in a faux-mandarin orange gel, and served alongside a large piece of grilled bread toast. The restaurant’s signature dish that has been written up extensively, copied, and recreated had a lot of hype to live up to.
And oh sweet faux foie, you truly are quite special. Especially when slathered onto a thickly cut slice of grilled buttered bread. I could have probably left satisfied after savoring a few happy rich bites, but let’s get real, I ate the whole thing by myself. It would be plain old dishonorable to leave any morsel on the plate.
The sommelier recommended to pair it with a Casale Dello Sparviero, 2009 Riserva Chianti Classico from Tuscany in Italy. Okay, I could get into some of that.
The Tipsy Cake (c. 1810) is the house specialty dessert, so naturally an easy choice when ordering time began. Sweet brioche, a pervertedly decadent sweet, it’s wrong yet oh so right.
Think of the best French toast you’ve ever eaten, multiply that by 20, add some addictive crack sugar sprinklings, and you’d get something like tipsy cake. This popular Victorian dessert was inspired by a recipe in “The English Cookery Book” from 1858, which is basically brioche bread smothered in a rich, creamy syrup, baked in a cast iron bowl until it forms a top coat caramelization.
It’s served alongside a pineapple that has been roasted on a spit fire and brushed with a pineapple caramel sauce. It’s hyped for a reason.
The only misfortune? Table for one means sampling limited dishes on the menu. Extra hot tip: the set lunch special is especially affordable (relatively speaking), but does not include options from the entire menu.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge, London
44 (0)20 7201 3833
Monday – Sun: 12pm – 2:30pm (set lunch menu on weekdays); 6:30pm – 10:30pm
Average price: Set lunch £38, Dinner £90