Dinner – delight upon delight
Is it really a month since we went for dinner at Dinner? I have certainly talked about the evening a lot to anyone who would listen…
So… Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has been open for a few months now. At the beginning of October I decided on a whim to try to book a table, got straight through on the booking line and then frantically picked a random free evening in November.
On arrival at the Mandarin Oriental we were welcomed and seated in the bar for drinks (our choice – not the cheapest place to drink). At the allotted time we were collected and taken into the main restaurant. It is fairly small and opulent, as you would expect for Knightsbridge.
Poring over the menu we both felt we wanted to try everything – so many new ideas and combinations to taste. The couple at the next table were served with their starters and the gentleman had ordered the already famous Meat Fruit. We rather cheekily asked him if it was as good as everyone was saying – his response… “no…. it is five times better!” This lovely man even offered F a small taste and she was hooked. We pondered the menu a little longer and finally made some decisions. Our friendly waiter took our order and advised us that if either of us wanted the (also) already famous Tipsy Cake for dessert we should order that at the same time to allow for preparation – a no brainer so we ordered one of those as well.
We sought advice from the sommelier as to the best wine options (from a selected short list) to accompany our varied dishes, and with his help settled for what turned out to be an absolutely delicious Minervois.
Starters arrived – the aforementioned Meat Fruit for F and Salamugundy for me. For the uninitiated, Meat Fruit is a mandarin infused chicken liver parfait that is presented as a mandarin with grilled bread – and it is just divine!
Salamugundy is chicken oysters served with salsify, marrow bone and horseradish – a collection of flavours that were just perfect together. Our chosen wine was decanted and proved to be an excellent choice.
For our main courses, F had chosen a pork belly special offering while I went for the spiced pigeon, to which we added sides of mashed potatoes and buttered black cabbage. The pork belly had been slow roasted and was melt in the mouth quality. The pigeon, served pink and with artichokes was tender and full of flavour. The mashed potato was almost as amazing as the potato puree produced by the potato magicians at Les Deux Salons and the buttered black cabbage was… well… buttered black cabbage (excellent, but it’s hard to get excited about cabbage!).
A breather while we had a look at the dessert list. As we already had a Tipsy Cake on order it was simply a matter of choosing one other. I was rather taken by the sound of the Taffety Tart so F took the Tipsy Cake as her choice. We sought advice from the sommelier once more on the best dessert wines to accompany our choices. We hoped in vain that the Pedro Ximenez would be suggested, but that was clearly too rich for either dessert. I can’t remember the wine suggested for F (something french?) while I had a glass of south african Vin de Constance. We could not resist the PX however, and shared a glass of that for ‘afters’ (as in after dessert).
Desserts arrived and did not disappoint. The Tipsy Cake was spit roast pineapple with brioche which F enjoyed although I found a little too sweet. The Taffety Tart was an apple and rose tart with fennel (cream I think) and blackcurrent sorbet – it sounds an odd mix but the flavours were amazing and it was most definitely one of the best things I have tasted – along with the tarragon ice cream at Pollen Street Social I have been spoilt for puds this year!
On to coffee (for me) and to accompany it a small pot of exquisite chocolate mousse. F was not left out of this treat and we both agreed that the ‘pot au chocolat’ deserved dessert billing in it’s own right! In fact, it was so delicious F asked if we would get another if she then ordered tea. Our fabulous waiter took the hint and brought another couple of small pots to the table – chocolate heaven :-)
When we finally asked for the bill we were rather surprised to discover that we had whiled away a good 4 hours being pampered by food. I have previously described the evening as “divine food, delicious wines, delightful staff and service and… ermm… darned good company”.
The atmosphere at Dinner by HB is friendly and informal. It is clearly a destination restaurant but anyone can buy a ticket. I urge to do so as soon as you can!
[Footnote: As I am writing this a month after the event, fading memory may have led to slight inaccuracies in food descriptions. I am sure that F will let me know of any glaring errors :-)]