Lunch at Dinner? That sounds appealing simply from the name and the fact it’s Heston Blumenthal’s foray into the London dining scene is just icing on the proverbial cake. In this case it was a birthday cake as we were heading to the Chef’s Table to celebrate a close friend and fellow foodie’s birthday. I’d been to Dinner almost a year ago for my own birthday (courtesy of my cousin and a close friend), but the Chef’s Table tasting menu was a special draw so I happily signed on to the excursion.
The table is located just off the main dining room and with a full up close and personal view of the open plan kitchen. A side panel can be made transparent to give you a peek into a small prep kitchen as well where you can see some cold starters and the Meat Fruit being prepared. Dishes are presented by the senior chef (in our case Senior Sous Chef Dale) and service provided in spades by an exclusive waiter (who will explain the history of the dishes), an on hand sommelier, and frequent appearances by the maitre’d.
It isn’t cheap with the lunch menu ringing in at £150pp (minimum of 4 people with a maximum of 6) and the least expensive wine pairing being £511 for the table, but the food is excellent, the service exceptional, and the general atmosphere both engaging and entertaining. This is the meal that foodies (and especially those who love cooking as well) will be talking about long after the fact – take your favourite foodaholic for this and they will love you forever.
The bar has a good range of cocktails including a number of unusual takes on classics – no surprise really for a Heston B place. They are a bit pricey (think £10-14) but then again it’s about on par for the area. There isn’t too much within easy walking distance but if you fancy branching out about 10 minutes or so you have a range of pubs around Hyde Park Corner or down Brompton road.
So, anything you’d recommend to eat?
I’ll give you the highlights first with a more detailed look at the dishes on the tasting menu to come later. As you’d expect, the tasting menu includes two signature and most well known dishes from Dinner: the Meat Fruit and the Tipsy Cake. The Meat Fruit is a light silky chicken liver and foie gras parfait which is molded into a sphere before being dipped in a mandarin gelatine. Served with a thick slice of grilled buttery bread, the net result is a beautifully presented dish that is very moreish – a rarity given the richness of the ingredients.
On the other end of the meal, the Tipsy Cake is a segmented brioche which has the same texture as what I imagined a cloud would have (as a child – before science and knowledge ruined the fantasy). It’s soaked with a sugary icing glaze and served with spit roasted pineapple. It’s rare that I love a dessert that completely abstains from chocolate, but I’d eat this at every meal if I could.
I’ve had both before, so while I enjoyed it my socks remained on. It was a dish in the middle of the menu called Frumenty that really surprised me. The dish with the oldest history, c1390, it’s composed of grilled octopus served in a smoked sea broth – only Heston could decide to smoke the sea – and intricately presented with different layers of taste and texture. It’s the octopus that really steals it as each piece was tender enough to be cut with a fork and melted over your tongue. This is not a sensation I’d ever attribute to octopus which tends to be chewy at the best of time and rubbery at the worst.
Need a drink?
Yes the cocktails are good and the wine pairing superb. Even though it was the on the lowest end of the wine pairing range (which goes from £100-£500pp), our pairing enhanced the food and kept us in high spirits. Really, that’s all you can ask for. Again, more detail on each wine to come later.
Worth the dosh?
The food was spectacular and for £150 well worth it. It was by far the best fine dining experience I’ve had in London, far better than HKK and Ametsa, and even managed to top our meal at Texture. When you add on the great banter from the staff, the personal touch by Chef Dale, and the freedom to ask questions and poke our nose into the kitchen, it was almost a bargain. Save up if you need to (or settle in to pay the credit card bill), but don’t miss out on this place.
Looking back, while I really enjoyed it, the wine was a bit too much for my wallet and although I’d happily go back for the food I would probably stick with one bottle. It would also help with not leaving the place feeling fit to explode!
Find Dinner by Heston Blumenthal here
London, SW1X 7LA
Tel: +44 (0)20 7201 3833