Sunday, October 15, 2023

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (London, United Kingdom)

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA, United Kingdom
+44 20 7201 3833
Sun 10/15/2023, 07:05p-11:30p

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

Given that I'd visited The Fat Duck just days earlier, I thought it'd be nice to keep things in the Heston Blumenthal family for my second dinner in London. And indeed, this dinner was at Dinner (named so because of the shifting meaning of the word to refer to different meals throughout the day), the Chef's ode to British gastronomic history, set in the ever so posh Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge. The genesis of this place began in the 1990s with Blumenthal's fascination with the culinary traditions of Britain's past. Therefore, when it came time to debut Dinner, he and his team, with the help of food historians, began performing significant research into the gastronomic history of the country, reading through cookbooks from hundreds of years ago and such. They then created modern renditions of those dishes.

The restaurant thus launched at the end of January 2011 (replacing a spot called Foliage) with Head Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts running the show day-to-day. There was significant fanfare surrounding the place when it first opened, and indeed, a Michelin star soon arrived in October that year, followed by a second in September 2013, which has been retained. In 2012, Dinner landed on The World's 50 Best Restaurants list at the #9 spot, rising to #7 in 2013 and #5 in 2014, before falling to #45 by 2018 and completely off the top 50 thereafter.

Palmer-Watts left Dinner in December 2019, and was superseded by Jon Miles-Bowring. Bowring himself decamped earlier this year, and was replaced in May by Cambridge native Adam Tooby-Desmond, an alumnus of Westminster Kingsway College and St John's College, Cambridge. After spending two years at Alimentum under Mark Poynton, he moved to London and joined the team here in 2017 as a demi chef de partie, subsequently working his way up the ladder. Meanwhile, running the kitchen tonight was Senior Sous Chef Jake Oswin. Hailing from Kenilworth, Warwickshire, he started working at Dinner in October 2017, following five years at The Ritz.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Dining Room
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Interior
Penned by Adam Tihany, Dinner's dining room is a handsome, fairly subdued space.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Private Dining Room
Here we see the 12-seater private dining room, which incorporates some rather striking high-backed, velvet-covered chairs set around a rosewood-sapele table. In addition, there's a six-seat Chef's Table with a view into the kitchen (not pictured).

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Tasting Menu Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Tasting Menu (Sources of Origin) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Wine Pairings Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu: Starters Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu: Starters (Sources of Origin) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu: Main Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu: Main (Sources of Origin) Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu: Dessert Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Menu: Dessert (Sources of Origin)
As for the menu, you can order à la carte or go (like I did) with the five-course tasting menu at £155 ($189.54) a head. Wine pairings were available at £135 ($165.08), £195 ($238.45), and a hefty £650 ($794.83), and there were also Champagne and non-alcoholic pairings at £265 ($324.04) and £75 ($91.71), respectively. The mostly Old World wine list can be seen here, and there are also cocktail options (from the hotel's Mandarin Bar) and a handful of beers. Do note that all prices are exclusive of a 15% service charge. Click for larger versions.

Paul Rhodes Bread & Butter
Quick to arrive at the table were slices of naturally-leavened bread sourced from Paul Rhodes Bakery in Greenwich, over in the southeast of London. I quite enjoyed the nuttiness of the sourdough as well as its supple crumb, though I would've liked it crustier. Meanwhile, a lightly salted butter certainly met the mark.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Service Card
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Service Card: Descriptions Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Service Card: The Adventurer Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Service Card: The Guide Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Service Card: The Maverick Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Service Card: Back Side
Next came something that I'd never encountered before at a restaurant. I was presented with the set of cards above, which dictate the level of detail that servers present regarding each dish. Perhaps not too surprisingly, I went with "The Maverick," with its maximized minutiae. Click for larger versions.

New Cuban
New Cuban [£22.00 ($26.90)] | Havana 7 Rum, Discarded Banana Peel Rum, Lime, Mint, Shiso Angostura, Champagne
I ended up going with cocktails tonight, and my first featured relatively restrained notes of banana, set against plenty of citrus and some astringent, bitter nuances, all while that rim gave the drink a sugary close.

Crab Tartlet
My amuse bouche tonight was a tartlet that combined the cool, sweet-n-saline nature of crab and trout roe with a bunch of fresh, fruity, herbaceous elements and a delightfully crisp pastry base.

Hay Smoked Salmon
1: Hay Smoked Salmon (c. 1730) | Lemon salad, gentleman's relish & sorrel
Salmon was cured for two days, then smoked, giving it a dense, sticky consistency and a richness that matched up easily with bitter radicchio and the citrusy kick of both a lemon vinaigrette and a lemon fluid gel. At the same time, you also had garlic prepared in milk, while the creamy, piquant condiment on the bottom really tied it all together. A strong start.

Yin [£22.00 ($26.90)] | Maker's Mark, Honey Infused with Coffee Beans & Mushrooms, Maraschino Liqueur, Orange Tincture
The evening's second cocktail was perhaps the most intriguing of the lot due to its assertive notes of mushroom, coffee, and bittersweet cacao, all accented by an aggressively salty rim.

Meat Fruit
Meat Fruit (Inside)
2: Meat Fruit (c. 1500) | Mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread
Naturally, I had to try Dinner's signature dish, a sort of trompe-l'œil, and it did not disappoint. It was some of the best chicken liver mousse I've had, with an elegant, earthy sweetness that contrasted effortlessly with the fruity "skin," all while that toasty bread provided a wonderful smoke and olive oil-enriched garlickiness.

3: Frumenty (c. 1390) | Octopus, spelt, smoked sea broth, pickled dulse & lovage
Given my penchant for octo, I was of course looking forward to this next course. The octopus was superb texturally, with a lovely sear, and its salinity married seamlessly with all those pickle-y, vegetal bits, and especially the nuttiness of spelt.

Eternal Wisdom
Eternal Wisdom [£24.00 ($29.35)] | Courvoisier VSOP, Maker's Mark, Laphroaig 10yrs, Mancino Rosso, Aged in Claypot With Red Dates
Served in a snifter, this next cocktail was on the contemplative side, with a bevy of smoky, spicy, aromatic notes that at times recalled tea.

Triple cooked chips
Triple cooked chips [£9.00 ($11.01)]
An order of Blumenthal's famed triple-cooked chips was certainly called for. I was a huge fan of their super crisp, shattery exteriors, while their insides were soft and pillowy. My concern here was that I wanted more salt.

Spiced Squab Pigeon
4: Spiced Squab Pigeon (c. 790) | Onions, artichokes, ale & malt
Prepared sous vide, the squab showed off rich, robust, yet utterly refined flavors, with the wing portion being especially tasty. A heady, wine-y sauce further intensified the dish, while at the same time, the veggies and a nutty cream lightened the mood.

Jade Sunset
Jade Sunset [£21.00 ($25.68)] | Santa Teresa 1796 Rum, Lime, Toasted Bread Almond Milk, Burnt Orange & Pine Cordial
Served in what appeared to be a traditional julep cup, this cocktail was generally easy-going, with nutty, citrusy flavors joined by an undercurrent of bittersweetness and the kick of that rum.

Roast Cod & Cockle Ketchup
Roast Cod & Cockle Ketchup (c. 1830) [£56.00 ($68.48)] | Cockles, leaf chicory and seaweed butter
Cod arrived moist, springy, and oh-so flaky, with a great crust to boot. Its refined brine made sense with the sherry vinegar and white wine used in the dish, while the vegetables imparted a nice bit of zip. However, what really struck me here was that ketchup, which was unlike any other I'd had before due to its fascinating amalgam of sour, oceany, and herbaceous components.

Tipsy Cake
5: Tipsy Cake (c. 1858) | Spit roast pineapple
Dinner's signature dessert managed to be another favorite tonight. The cake itself was brioche-like, arriving utterly rich, buttery, bittersweet, and delicious, with a beautifully crystallized top. However, even better was the pineapple, which was just super juicy, with a wonderfully rich, deep, caramelized sugariness that I reveled in. In fact, it's probably the best single piece of pineapple I've ever eaten.

Chamomile Manhattan
Chamomile Manhattan [£21.00 ($25.68)] | The Macallan Double Cask 12 Year Old, Maker's Mark, Fair Kumquat, Lillet Blanc, Chamomile
My final cocktail was a Manhattan variation, one that displayed a fresh, citrusy nose backed by cacao. Tasting it, I got a plethora of herbal, medicinal notes, tempered just a touch by hints of fruit and the floral character of the drink's namesake chamomile.

Nitrogen Ice Cream Trolley
Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Cone
Of course, I couldn't resist ordering a tableside treat from Dinner's off-menu Nitrogen Ice Cream Trolley [£13.50 ($16.51)]. Constructed of Corian, the cart features a KitchenAid-esque hand-cranked mixer that combines liquid nitrogen and vanilla custard to a create a wonderfully smooth, but substantial ice cream, set in a sugary, shattery cone. Three toppings were available: strawberry crumble, raspberry meringue, and walnut praline. I ended up going with strawberry/walnut per my waiter's recommendation, and I loved the juxtaposition of those fruity and nutty notes. Excellent.

Mrs Agnes B. Marshall Info The Queen of Ice Cream Info
Along with the ice cream came a pamphlet detailing the history of English frozen dessert pioneer Agnes Marshall. Click for larger versions.

Gitesi Drip Filter Coffee
My final beverage was the Gitesi [£7.50 ($9.17)], a drip filter coffee from Karongi, Western Province, Rwanda. Think light and tangy and fruity, with tea-like aromatics and hints of bell pepper.

Salted Caramel Tartlet
Petit four duties were handled by this salted caramel tartlet, replete with crystallized chocolate and an almond crust.

Although the hype behind Dinner has undoubtedly died down since the place opened, the restaurant still delivered a great meal tonight. I love the whole concept behind the cooking. The way that the team was able to draw inspiration from historical British cuisine and come up with modern dishes based on that was pretty clever--they've created something quite original here. Now given that, I'd actually like to see the kitchen be a bit more ambitious with the menu format. After all, a mere five courses for a tasting menu does seem a bit light, and I think that moving to something higher-end might help the restaurant re-garner some of the attention it's lost over the years.


Blogger H.Peter said...

What a concept about historic food reimagined.

Friday, December 08, 2023 8:01:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

What a concept indeed--never seen anything quite like it before!

By the way, I'm having problems responding to your email, as Gmail keeps rejecting my message.

Sunday, December 10, 2023 5:42:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I got your latest email, but still can't respond. Here's the error I'm getting:

This message was created automatically by mail delivery software.

A message that you sent could not be delivered to one or more of its
recipients. This is a permanent error. The following address(es) failed:

host []
SMTP error from remote mail server after pipelined end of data:
550-5.7.26 This mail has been blocked because the sender is unauthenticated.
550-5.7.26 Gmail requires all senders to authenticate with either SPF or DKIM.
550-5.7.26 Authentication results:
550-5.7.26 DKIM = did not pass
550-5.7.26 SPF [] with ip: [redacted] = did not pass
550-5.7.26 For instructions on setting up authentication, go to
550 5.7.26

Tuesday, December 12, 2023 12:55:00 AM  
Blogger H.Peter said...

I have never seen this before.
Let me send you one from a .com

Tuesday, December 12, 2023 8:13:00 AM  

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