When it comes to Heston Blumenthal there is not a lot more to add about his creativity, and his vision of food and his latest restaurant in London again prove his talent for transforming dining into a unique experience. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is a totally modern place where creative food with roots in traditional British dishes is served.
The restaurant is situated in the luxurious Mandarin Hotel which you enter from the bustling Knightsbridge Road. The dining room itself is reached through the bar after which you walk through a short glass corridor which is actually the wine cellar. Here the hustle of the city is replaced by a relaxed view over the greenery of Hyde Park, in a British inspired room with wooden panels, leather accents and lamps with shapes reminiscent of the Tudor rose. One side the dining room is bordered by the glass enclosed kitchen so you get the chance to see the action live. For those interested in getting even closer it is possible to book the chef’s table.
That the English self-taught Chef Heston Blumenthal, renowned for his world-famous The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray outside London, is one of the creators is evident by the restaurant’s name. The other mastermind behind the restaurant and the actual person running the place is Dinner’s Executive Head Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts. Ashley started working in a restaurant as early as 13 years old in Dorset where he washed dishes and spent his spare time standing in the kitchen every day after school. 21 years old, in 1999, he joined Heston at the Fat Duck where he became Head Chef in 2003.
Together, Heston and Ashley spent a long time researching and exploring Britain’s gastronomic past, consulted with help from among others food historians and The British Library. The result is a development of dishes that have a British rather than a French heritage. The inspiration goes as far back as to the Royal Courts of King Henry VIII (sixteenth century). A great example is the Mandarin Meat Fruit which is inspired by the Tudor kitchens where as entertainment at feasts it was commonplace to serve meat courses disguised as fruit. The Mandarin Meat Fruit at Dinners is probably a bit more elegant but very delicious and fun, it is a must! The menu is an interesting read in itself as it includes a historical reference for each dish with a more detailed reference on the back side.
Although the inspiration is historical, the cooking techniques used are as contemporary as they can be with equipment such as a nitro ice cream trolley and a fantastic spit roast created by the Swiss matchmaker Ebel. The spit roast is used for cooking pineapples in an elaborate way which is a key ingredient in the delicious Tipsy Cake inspired by a recipe from the nineteenth century. There are wonderful main courses such as the Beef Royal which is slow cooked for 72 hours, but do not miss the side dishes. Fries may sound like a simple side dish, but triple-cooked probably makes them as good as they can get.
Even though the food is contemporary, do not expect a Fat Duck experience, Dinner is something else and something special. You will enjoy great food with a tremendous effort behind it, from researching historical British recipes, then developing a dish balanced both in flavour and texture and lastly using the most contemporary techniques for preparing it. A British treat, indeed.
Written by Joakim & Lazaros