Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Delectable Dining at Dinner by Heston Bluementhal

Roast Marrowbone
Having tried Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck restaurant a few weeks earlier during our vacation in Europe and having thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, we decided on a whim to see if we could get into his London based restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Luckily being listed on TopTable - the United Kingdom equivalent of North America’s OpenTable, a restaurant reservation website – we were able to quickly make lunch reservations, significantly easier than making reservations for The Fat Duck.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is situated in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Hyde Park London, located in the posh area of Knightsbridge, the same neighborhood where you’ll find the famous London department stores Harvey Nichols and Harrods, as well London’s only free standing Pierre Herme, our favorite macaron store of all time.

Spiced Pigeon
This 1 Michelin Star restaurant, which was also named the 9th best restaurant in the world, was significantly different than The Fat Duck, which currently sits at the 13th best restaurant in the world. The atmosphere, food and price point was much more approachable, their focus was more on the food and less on putting on a show with food. That’s not to say that it didn't exist at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The menu at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was inspired by historic British dishes, so beside each menu item, there was a year listed, letting the diner know what year the inspiration for the dish originated from.

Cod in Cider
The menu changes often, so the menu on the website is simply a sample of menu of what could be offered. You can choose from the 3 course set lunch menu for only 36 British Pounds, or choose to go a la carte, with items ranging from 9 British Pounds to the most expensive being a Bone in Rib of Hereford Prime for 2 at 72 British Pounds, but the majority of entrees range from 27 British Pounds to 38 British Pounds. The menu even lists on the back where they found the original recipes on for the items on the a la carte menu.

Brown Bread Ice Cream
After we ordered we were visited by management staff that was going about the restaurant visiting with diners to ensure they were enjoying their experience. I was incredibly shocked when the first thing out of their mouth when they saw me was, “It’s Mr. Moo! It’s an honor to have you dining with us Mr. Moo! I shall have to tell Chef Lake that you came to visit us here at Dinner!” I immediately asked how he knew who I was and he replied with “But everybody knows Mr. Moo!” After checking to ensure that we had been well taken care of, he disappeared. A few minutes later, another member of the management team appeared to check up on us and again, saw me and said, “Mr. Moo is dining with us! Why it’s a great honor to have you dine with us Mr. Moo!” Again we asked how he knew who I was, and he replied with, “You dined at The Fat Duck a few weeks ago! I was there! Also, the entire staff talked about your visit after you left! We share staff between the two restaurants so everybody knows who you are!” Talk about making a bovine feel special!

Autumn Tart
The humans decided to start the meal with roast marrowbone and salamugundy, both dishes were circa 1720 and were from The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary by John Nott. The humans thought that the roast marrowbone with snails, parsley, anchovy, mace and pickled vegetables was earthy, with just a hint of saltiness from the anchovy, and was balanced well by the acidity of the pickled vegetables, which had a slight crispness to them. Meanwhile the salamugundy with chicken oysters, salsify, marrowbone and horseradish cream was mildly salty, crispy and acidic all at once, while the marrow sauce was salty, smooth and gave the dish an acidic kick and turned out to be a very generously sized appetizer.

Ice Cream
We moved onto an entrée of spiced pigeon with ale and artichokes circa 1780 from
The Ladies’ Assistant and Complete System of Cookery by Charlotte Mason. The pigeon was incredibly succulently, lightly spiced, while the accompanying artichokes were tender and lightly sauced, the entire dish was perfect and I had to resist the urge to lick the plate. Meanwhile the cod in cider with chard and fired mussels circa 1940 from Good Fish Dishes by Ambrose Heath melted in my mouth, while the mussels were juicy.

Chocolate and Lavender Mousse
To finish we opted for both individual desserts as well as ice cream from the ice cream cart. The Brown Bread Ice Cream with Salted butter caramel, pear and malted yeast syrup circa 1830 from A New System of Domestic Cookery by Maria Eliza Rundell. The ice cream was thick and caramelly, while the bread added a crunchy texture to the dish, with a hint of saltiness from the malted yeast syrup. The Autumn Tart with roast fig, blackberries, cinnamon and black current sorbet circa1720 from The Cook’s and Confectioner’s Dictionary by John Nott. The tart didn’t look like your traditional tart had as it was a rectangular slice instead of round, however the contrast and balance of textures made it a delicious and enjoyable dessert. There was sweetness from the figs and berries, while the base of the tart was nice and crunchy, finishing off with a smooth and creamy middle layer of cream.

The ice cream cart was available to diners as long as there were two or more people at a table willing to indulge. They wheeled the cart over and revealed to us a hand crank contraption, where they poured a traditional egg custard into the bowl, added liquid nitrogen, then turned the crank in order to churn the ice cream. Within a matter of seconds, they scooped the creamy ice cream into crispy and delicately thin cones, and topped them with toppings of our choice. Topping choices included freeze dried raspberries, apple popping candies, pralines, hazelnuts, chocolate, and candy sprinkles.

To finish, we were presented with a chocolate and lavender mousse, along with a shortbread with caraway. The mousse was thick, tasting mostly of chocolate with just a hint of lavender, while the biscuit was buttery and flakey.

Our whole meal with 3 courses per person, plus the added ice cream course, both alcoholic and non alcoholic beverages and cappuccinos to end came out to 185 British Pounds or roughly $290 Canadian Dollars total, significantly less than it costs for a single person to dine at The Fat Duck. Overall an extremely enjoyable meal and I would definitely recommend Dinner by Heston Blumenthal to others, and I look forward to revisiting on my next trip to London.

More photos on PhotoBucket!

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge
London, UK  SW1X 7LA
011 44 020 7201 3833

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon

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