Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has been on my bucket list since the day it opened in 2011. So when an invitation dropped into my inbox to have dinner in the private room as a guest of the events company, Eventful* and the Mandarin Oriental hotel, I jumped at the opportunity.
The Mandarin Oriental hotel is located in Knightsbridge, just a stones throw from Harrods, Harvey Nichols and dozens more high-end shops. You can almost smell the luxury as you come out of the tube station! The hotel itself was formerly a gentlemen's club and many of the original features remain, it is old-school elegance at it's best. You can read more about the history of the hotel here.
Many people will know Heston Blumenthal for his three Michelin star restaurant The Fat Duck, where he is famous for using the principles of molecular gastronomy. Dinner, on the other hand, bases its menu on historical British dishes ranging from the 14th to the 19th centuries. The restaurant itself is smaller than I expected, the Tudor style chandeliers, boar knockers leading into the private room all adding to the authenticity of it without making it seem like a kitsch themed restaurant. The private dining room, in which we were seated, has a gorgeous oval table big enough for 10 people; a large window looking out into the main dining room lets you feel part of it all. So far, very impressed.
The private dining set menu (£70.00) has all the dishes that have become the restaurant's signatures. To start I had 'Meat Fruit' (circa 1500) - mandarin, chicken liver and foie gras parfait with grilled bread. Incredible. It is presented encased in jelly to look like a mandarin even down to the dimpled skin! Everything edible except the leaves. Like I say, incredible! The parfait was smooth and unctuous and the mandarin jelly added a slight sweetness to the rich parfait. The grilled bread toasted to a nice crisp had been rubbed with garlic, I was in heaven. I said that the parfait I had at Tom's Kitchen was the best I've ever had, but it has nothing on this!
Spiced pigeon with ale and artichokes (circa 1780) came next. A beautiful piece of meat that came served pink just as it should be. It was still moist and as tender as tender can be. For the table we ordered roasted carrots with caraway seeds, sweet and perfectly roasted. Braised lettuce and peas were nice but nothing special, but the absolute stand out side dish for me was the mash potato. I have never seen anything like it - it was so smooth that I initially thought it was mayo! A bowl full of mayo is slightly random, but that should give some indication to the smoothness of this mash. Full of butter and probably a million calories in that one bowl, but totally worth it.
For dessert I ordered the signature Tipsy Cake with spit roast pineapple (circa 1810) A brioche soaked in alcohol (I think it may have been calvados, but can't be sure) served with spit roast pineapple that uses the same pulley system to rotate the pineapple that was used in the Royal court. I could only manage one spoonful of this dessert. It is sweet beyond belief! Everyone else at the table absolutely scoffed this down, but as someone who doesn't particularly like desserts, I just couldn't manage it.
Service was absolutely outstanding. We had a lovely waiter who was only too happy to answer the many questions we had. He talked us through the history of each dish and you could tell that the staff have had extensive training. You could also tell that he absolutely loved working there.
This is my usual slot to talk about the bill, but as mentioned, on this occasion was lucky enough to be a guest of Eventful and The Mandarin Oriental. I did see the prices though and whilst it may seem expensive, it is worth every penny. Dinner by Heston is totally deserved of its spot on the San Pellegrino World's 50 Best restaurants and the highest ranking UK restaurant. If you're looking for something truly special, I recommend giving this one a go.
Until we eat again!
Dinner by Heston
Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 66 Knightsbridge SW1X 7LA
* Eventful: a friendly team of experienced professionals providing a highly personalised event planning service to an impressive portfolio of loyal corporate clients. If you're planning an event, I can highly recommend them.