I’ve been lazy recently. Very lazy. It’s been an age since I’ve put something up on the blog. There are a few reasons for this: work, moving house, not having internet at home for a month, and just more laziness.
But I’m back.
And to kick things off I’m reviewing a restaurant that will be familiar to all of you. It’s probably one of the most written about restaurants in London and its name is Dinner. Heston’s latest venture at the Mandarin Oriental garnered a lot of praise when it opened, despite the pretty high prices, and a year on it doesn’t look like it’s losing steam. As readers will remember I had a great time at The Fat Duck but Dinner is a different beast, more of a bistro but sprinkled with the usual Heston magic. I still hadn’t been and it seemed the perfect place for a Mother’s day lunch.
The restaurant itself is rather wonderful, a huge glass kitchen full of chefs and huge pineapples on a spit being gently roasted in the oven. Huge windows give the place a lot of light and there was a lovely buzz and hum to the place. It’s full of lovely little touches; little bookmarks with little tidbits from the history of food or a bibliography at the back of the menu. The wine list, whilst impressively weighty (if you like that sort of thing), goes north of £40 pretty quickly, but I suppose that’s to be expected.
The food itself is wonderful. Really wonderful. It is expensive, but worth saving for and eating it was a joyful experience. The famous Meat Fruit, which has been hyped to kingdom come, stood up to the praise that has been lavished on it. Softer and smoother than you can imagine and beautifully presented, I wanted to bring a tub home with me. The other stand out was the roast marrowbone with snails that had lovely, earthy flavours. Hay smoked mackerel and buttered crab loaf were both good but not up to the high standards set by the other two. All of them, however, exemplify what Dinner is about: familiar, homey cooking which have been taken to another level.
One of the techniques that Heston uses to take these dishes up a level is cooking almost everything sous vide. The results of this can sometimes be incredible; meat tastes more tender than ever, nothing is lost etc etc. And with most of our mains it worked a dream. The pork chop, for example, was like nothing I’ve ever tasted, it was just perfection. As was the powdered duck breast with its smokey, spicey flavours. The chicken on the other hand, while being cooked exactly how it should be, was just too tender and moist. It tasted and felt so unfamiliar that you kept thinking it was still raw, even though it was, all in all just too weird. Pigeon just about worked but was, again, almost too tender to be believed but lovely really.
Puddings are again dominated by the now world famous Tipsy Cake. This is the pudding to end all puddings; spit roasted for a gazillion hours in its own juices and served with melt in your mouth sponge. There are no words to describe this, worth the trip alone and all the other puddings pale in comparison. Although the British cheese platter is lovely too.
Whilst easily the one of the most expensive lunches you can have in London, I would put Dinner up there with other favourite treats like River Café, Ledbury and Roganic. Book, save, go.