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Dinner by Heston Blumenthal - brasserie soul food

Rating: 91.
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Originally I had made a reservation at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on 10 February 2011 but due to personal circumstances I unfortunately had to cancel. It was really hard work to get a new reservation, as the place is always fully booked. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is still the hottest ticket in town. Reservations for Dinner cannot be made more than 2 months in advance, so each time when the reservation lines open for the next month (in my case 1 July for August) it is total mayhem. Lunch or dinner reservations for Dinner are still regularly up for auction on eBay and occasionally fetch up to £50. I believe this is quite exceptional - even in London.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is located at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London which also houses the restaurant of another famous three star chef, Bar Boulud by Daniel Boulud. Dinner is a beautiful and spacious restaurant with an open plan kitchen behind floor to ceiling glass walls. On the day I had lunch there, the terrace, which overlooks Hyde Park, was open as well, However, I decided to have lunch in the restaurant which had a fantastic vibe on the day I went. The executive chef of Dinner is Ashley Palmer-Watts, former head-chef (since 2003) at Heston's The Fat Duck in Bray-on-Thames, and executive head-chef of the Fat Duck Group since 2008. Heston Blumenthal and Ashley Palmer-Watts' collaboration started as early as 1999.

Dinner is open for lunch and dinner 7 days a week. At lunch Dinner offers a set lunch menu (3 courses £28) and an a la carte menu with a large selection of starters, mains and desserts, all historically inspired modern British food.

As a starter I obviously had to have the Meat Fruit (couldn't leave the restaurant without having eaten this). As it says on the menu this dish originates from approximately 1500. The Meat Fruit is served in the shape of a tangerine. The skin of this 'tangerine' is a fantastic refined tangerine jelly with a lovely bittersweet flavour. The jelly covers an absolutely fabulous chicken liver parfait. The parfait was rich, creamy and very smooth but very light at the same time. Furthermore it didn't just taste of liver (as so often) but also had wonderfully pure chicken flavours. Perfect with the toast. A highly addictive dish.

My main course was Sirloin of Black Angus, mushroom ketchup, red wine juice, triple cooked chips (c. 1830). I ordered a tomato and mixed leaf salad on the side. Wonderful top-quality juicy steak served with some bone marrow on top. The red wine juice had delicious deep and dark flavours - juice with a soul. Gorgeous concentrated mushroom ketchup, with precise mushroom flavours and a terrific long aftertaste. Also the perfect sweet and sour balance. Excellent chips and salad.

Where the Meat Fruit is the obligatory starter for a Dinner virgin, the Tipsy Cake (c. 1810) served with spit-roast pineapple is the must-have dessert. An absolutely divine cake, that was served in a cocotte, fluffy and comforting, almost like a sweet brioche but a bit more dense and fantastic tipsy juice at the bottom of the cocotte. The roasted pineapple was delicious and juicy, loved the stickiness.

With this lunch I got a great introduction to the food at Dinner and the 3 dishes I had, for me represented the ultimate comfort food. Ashley Palmer-Watts and his team cook exciting and extremely flavourful food that is seemingly uncomplicated but is in fact prepared to very exacting standards and is technically state-of-the-art. I believe the Meat Fruit exemplifies this and don't forget the pineapple. And isn't it really impressive that within weeks after its opening the restaurant already had several signature dishes, like the meat fruit and the tipsy cake, that rank among the famous in London? Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, brasserie soul food, British food for the soul.

Lunch at Dinner didn't only provide me with great food but also with a wonderful experience; the restaurant has a relaxed atmosphere, the staff was friendly and efficient. I can't wait to go back to try some of the other fascinating dishes on the menu. Perhaps it would be nice if they introduced some sort of tasting menu....

Note: Dinner will be closed for 3 weeks from 1 September for essential maintenance work and will re-open on 22 September 2011.

  Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon

Posted 17-08-2011

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