London - Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Enjoyable dinner at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal this evening. Large, high-ceilinged room, done up in rather masculine greys & browns. Banquettes esconced nattily-dressed diners - ranging from journo types to the Chelsea set. Tables were bare, no table-cloths - very New York-ish than Bray.
Service was oh-so-friendly, and super-attentive. The food: Blumenthal's interpretation of British recipes thru the centuries, as he gleaned cooking methods & ingredients from old recipes ranging from "The Forme of Cury The Master Cooks of King Richard II" (circa 1390) to "Good Fish Dishes" by Ambrose Heath (published 1940).
Joined by UK Hound, limster, we tried:
- Meat Fruit (circa 1500) - chicken liver parfait moulded into the shape of a small Mandarin orange, suitably tint-colored, and served with a thick, crusty toast. The parfait was light & flavorsome. Not cheap at £14.50++;
- Salamugundy (circa 1720) - a beautifully composed, cholesterol-rich salad consisting of chicken oysters, salsify, marrow bone & horseradish cream. Marvellous combination of tasty, firm flesh (chicken oysters), cloyingly delicious marrow, crisp fresh salad leaves, all accentuated by an assertive stab of horseradish in the creme dressing;
- Savoury Porridge (circa 1660) - an interesting "porridge" consisting of snails, chanterelles garlic & fennel. Another achingly beautiful combination of flavors & textures, with a surprisingly strong greenish appearance. It tasted a bit Gerson-ish raw & green to me though;
- Hay-smoked Mackerel (circa 1730) - three finger-sized smoked mackerel, beautifully presented with a selection of dainty crisp, lemony greens & reds, floating atop a smear of gentleman's relish and olive oil;
- Black Foot Pork Chop (circa 1820) - which was an absolutely ravishing piece of pork chop: perfect texture, perfectly seasoned, ultimately delicious, served with spelt & Robert sauce. This recipe was by Careme, beautifully interpreted by Blumenthal's kitchens here. Best piece of pork - in fact, best piece of any meat I'd tasted in recent menory. Do NOT miss this!
We were impressed. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is young, unfussy, very interesting, and a refreshing departure from Blumenthal's over-complicated Fat Duck.
Then, we unexpectedly rolled over the precipice with the desserts:
- the much-touted Tipsy Cake (circa 1810) lacked the alcohol punch I'd expected. It was like a Lilliputian brioche soaked in a caramelly, overly-liquid sauce which added up to zero basically. The accompanying spit roast pineapple was unimaginative and plain;
- the Brown Bread Ice Cream (circa 1830) with salted butter caramel and salted yeast syrup was also pretty pedestrian and ultimately disappointing.
I can spit over my shoulder at Fifth Floor by Harvey Nichols across the road, and land on some baked goods which would be superior to what I just had at Dinner. Maybe we should have just stuck to the British Cheese option.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
66 Knightsbridge, London, England SW3 1, GB
Thought the food was made with generally excellent technique, and quite a bit of that translated into deliciousness. Echo the rave for the pork - tuned to a perfect pink, and delicately sweet.
I really liked the grassy snail dish, which I think would have worked really well with a white burgundy -- but reading above reminded me about how good the Salamugundy was, full of savoury flavours that came together easily.
After dinner, we strolled past Koffman's and looked at the menu -- their foie gras goes for £15, just 50p more than the chicken liver aka Meat Fruit at Dinner. I think one's definitely paying a premium for the Blumenthal name on the door. Happy to eat there and found the meal very enjoyable especially the superlative pork, but not the kind of place to that I would go if I had to make reservations weeks ahead, as when it first opened.
I had my first brown bread ice cream a month or so ago - at the Blueprint Cafe. It's a nice twist on ice cream as we've known it, but it wasn't extraordinary at that restaurant either.
Interesting to read about, thanks for the report. I had a look at their menu. Did you all have any wine? I assume the final cost would have included 20% VAT and 10% tip.
Their wine list shows a sample of their stock but most are French with a scattering of stuff from elsewhere including one from West Sussex. Do they carry any American (US) wines?
For what it's worth, allowing for the amount of staff, I didn't think any of the food at Dinner was over priced.
I did have an issue with the wine list though which screams 'we want to take your money'. A few, very obvious suspects in the £20 range then bugger all till you head in to the £50/60+ stratosphere. I note La Trompette in Chiswick won a wine award from the AA, and with good reason: sensible prices across the board, particularly the £30 bracket. Dinner should take note, it has 100 covers that need to be filled. Not all of their customers will be trotting round the corner from their million pound gaff in One Hyde Park!
re: marcus james
Yep, overpriced wines at Dinner. Dinner's food prices are probably about 5% higher than those at the nearby Koffman's, which I enjoyed more.
La Trompette's wine list is quite well priced, and a couple of their most expensive wines are barely above retail. But the food is merely pretty good; their roast duck pales in comparison to the ones at Gold Mine.
Best deal I've found so far for wines has been Trinity at the higher end, but I really should visit Enoteca Turi.
I didn't look at the list that deeply at Dinner, but there seemed to be far more European wines.
I had a very good Oregon pinot noir at La Trompette recently, and I think that it's probably not hard to find US wines at restaurant here, although the US wines tend to be from California. I suspect that the quality would vary from place to place, but haven't really had enough to tell.
I'd just arrived back in Singapore in time for the Chinese New Year Eve this evening.
I ran out of time to visit Koffman's on this trip (3 weeks went past in a flash) - will definitely be top of my list on my next visit to London - I celebrated 3 of my birthdays at Pierre Koffman's old La Tante Claire back in the 90s. Back then, it was one of my faves, together with Le Gavroche, and Nico at Nineties.