|The meat fruit with toasted sourdough
There's quite the black market in trade for reservations at Dinner, Heston Blumenthal's latest restaurant in London. Diners have to book in advance 2 months to the day before their reservation (it was formerly 3) and seats are, to put it mildly, like hen's teeth. I had a reservation when the restaurant first opened, then had to give it away due to some travel plans so BIG thanks to my friend Sarah who passed on a reservation to me when her friend Mark couldn't make it. Yes, I will happily play Mr Hummington for the night if it gets me a slice of meat fruit.
Meat fruit? Yes, meat fruit. A fantabulous, creative ball of lusciously creamy chicken liver parfait, wrapped in a mildly citrussy mandarin jelly which looks just like a mandarin.
|Pigeon, artichokes & ale
The menu is not your everyday experience, although it's not as out there as Heston's The Fat Duck so might also appeal to those like to keep their forks planted more firmly in the steak and veg camp. Each dish is sourced from historical books and recipes, and is listed on the menu with the date indicating the period from which the recipe originated (so, say "Salamugundy (c.1720)"). To the old, Heston adds the new - his own creative twist and, in some cases, a small pinch of genius.
But even before we get to the food, we love it. Service is so friendly, genuine and helpful - no uppity stuffiness, despite the well heeled clientele and glitzy location. The room is gorgeous, from the soaring ceilings, huge windows overlooking Hyde Park, glass fronted kitchen with pineapples roasting on a spit to the jelly mould light bulbs.
|Rice & flesh
Among the 8 starters which include roast scallops with cucumber ketchup and borage, or savoury porridge with cod cheeks, pickled beetroot, garlic and parsley, my meat fruit (£13.50) is matched in loveliness by TPG's "Rice and Flesh (c 1390)" (£16) - buttery rich saffron risotto, with meaty chunks of calf tail and red wine.
|Black foot pork chop
Mains include the Iberican Black Foot Pork Chop (c. 1860) (£28), served with pointy cabbage and juicy Robert sauce, cooked sous vide to perfect tenderness. Plump, rich morsels of velvety "spiced pigeon (c. 1780)" (£33) cooked in ale with artichokes is another winner.
Things continue on a high with desserts which earn the highest praise in TPG's repertoire - [eyebrows raised, mouth full] "these are as good as New York desserts" [further scoffing]. The tipsy cake (c. 1810) (£10) is a billowing brioche bun soaking in oozy, sticky juices from the spit roasted golden pineapple which is served sectioned and glistening on the side.
The chocolate bar (c.1730) is a dark gooey chocolate film covering passion fruit jam and chocolate with ginger ice cream. Gorgeous!
Our sommelier choses matching wines by the glass which range from "good" to "get me another one of those" and at prices from £7-£13 per glass.
It's pricey - around £100 per head if you don't hold back on the drinks. But it's fabulous and fun. Just go.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, SW 1X 7LA (Tel: 020 7201 3833)