Dinner by Heston
Knowing I’d still be fairly full from my Pret-a-Portea, I made a late booking at Dinner by Heston at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Dinner by Heston is, as you can probably tell, one of Heston Blumenthal’s ventures right in the heart of London. Having booked my trip so far ahead I probably would have been able to get a booking at The Fat Duck but from what my friends have said, it’s not exactly the kind of place you’d go and dine alone at, hence my decision to go to Dinner instead.
The restaurant is large and spacious with an open kitchen at the front. I had a table at the back, looking out on to Hyde Park and for late on a Sunday night the place was bustling and continued to fill up further as the night went on. There weren’t as many staff members on the floor as I was getting used to from the other Michelin-starred restaurants but this did not impede on their ability to get things to the table quickly or notice when I was out of a drink. My waiter was very chatty and friendly.
The menu is quite different to what you’d expect from Heston. I anticipated things to be a little more “out there” but it’s pretty standard, classic food with just a couple of twists.
Now, I’m sure you already know that I don’t eat seafood but I do often feel like I’m missing out by not eating it and then I got this tweet from my favourite chef, so I decided to be a bit daring.
To this end, I decided to order roast scallops, cucumber ketchup, cucumber hearts, bergamot and borage for my entrée. I was enticed by the cucumber ketchup which ended up tasting like pickle-flavoured mayonnaise. Sooo good.
In retrospect I wish I had ordered a couple or more of the entrees rather than an entrée and main because for main I just went for the Fillet of Aberdeen Angus with mushroom ketchup and triple cooked chips which, frankly, was nothing special. The sauce was really beautiful and I basically sat there with my nose in the little jug, inhaling it because it was more satisfying than the steak. As with a few of my other dining experiences, I blame myself for poor ordering rather than the quality of the food being low. Also, triple cooked chips are unnecessary. Give me golden crunchy coating with fluffy potato over brittle and dusty any day.
I was pretty torn by dessert. I wanted everything on the menu but went with the chocolate bar on recommendation. You can’t really say no to chocolate filled with passionfruit jam and ginger ice cream can you? My only problem with the restaurant arose in this situation because I wanted a dessert wine but then decided to just have another champagne (which goes with everything in my opinion) and then the sommelier suggested I have a port. “It’s very fruity and rich – like figs” he said. I relinquished my own personal taste and went with his suggestion but with my ultra rich dessert which was some of the darkest and densest chocolate I’ve eaten, it was all too much. A gorgeous port – lovely on its own – but way too sickly with the dessert.
All was soon forgiven, however, when the liquid nitrogen ice cream machine came out. I had read a couple of days earlier that the machine was on loan at a festival (it could have been Taste, actually) and I thought I wouldn’t get a chance to try it but it was there and I was so glad I did. Such fun! Such taste. It made me feel like a small child.
For something like 6 pounds (per ice cream) the machine is brought over to your table and made in front of you. You then choose from a variety of toppings. I think mine was apple and fennel. Having the liquid nitrogen ice cream is a must if you dine at Dinner and I couldn’t believe how many people weren’t ordering it!? I think some people were put off by the theatrics of it all and the fact it drew attention to your table. Sucks to be those guys because they missed out big time.
See, exciting stuff!
With my other restaurant posts I’ve been able to give you prices of what my bills were. In this case it’s a bit skewed as I had a couple of massive cocktails in the bar beforehand, two glasses of champagne, a bottle of wine, a glass of dessert wine (yep, binge drinking on my birthday) entrée, main, dessert and the ice cream and it came to a few hundred pounds. If you don’t drink as much as me it would be a relatively inexpensive meal as the entrees are only around 16 pounds, the mains at around 30 pounds and desserts no more than 12 pounds – not bad for a two star establishment.
Is this a must-do while you’re in London? Not really. Would I go back? For sure. As I said: inexpensive, good staff, solid food and easy location. It didn’t blow my mind but it certainly didn’t have any negative qualities. I think I’ll try to find a dining partner and head to The Fat Duck next time, though.
Dinner by HestonMandarin Oriental Hyde Park (directly opposite Knightsbridge Station) 66 Knightsbridge London SW1X7LA
Monday – Sunday
Lunch 12:30 – 2:30 pm
Dinner 6:30 – 10:30 pm