It's Ross and HestonMore pictures
In case you were hoping that this review may be in any way negative or contain any bashing of the Heston brand of cookery I’m afraid to say you’re out of luck. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal (and Ashley Palmer-Watts) contains pretty much everything that I look for in a modern London restaurant, attentive and friendly service, multiple interesting menu choices, a large relaxed dining room and MEAT FRUIT!
But seriously I had avoided reading any reviews up to my visit with all I got via Twitter being the feeling that everyone thought it was ace but kinda wished that it wasn’t, or felt bored in using the same superlatives over and over again. This meant that I went, as I had hoped with an open mind with my only knowledge of the place being the menu; which I can now probably recite from memory.
With this in mind I was a little disappointed to see that my pre-defined pudding choice of Lemon Suet pudding was not on our printed menu. Turns out that they’ve been having some trouble getting it exactly right so took it off BUT our waiter kind enough to check if they had any around and they did so would happily let me have one. It feels a bit weird talking about pudding choices before I’ve even covered the starters but to me the staff made the experience into the special event it was, they were all friendly, knowledgeable and clearly really enjoying working there and I think they should be commended as much as the chefs.
So the menu is based around Heston’s current trend of historical cookery. A nice touch I only noticed this morning was that on the reverse side of the menu there is a full bibliography of each dishes origin. This to me is what provided the restaurants intrigue as I’d not really heard of any of the dishes not being a great food historian myself. I kinda knew what to expect with the meat fruit but was set back by how good it was. You think you’ve had numerous great chicken liver parfaits but I’ve not had one as rich and creamy as this, verging on foie gras in terms of it’s taste with the added orangey bonus of the mandarin tasting outside. Other starter was the interestingly named “rice and flesh” which in reality was “just” a damned good saffron risotto with mini piles of meat (calves tail) placed on top.
Mains courses and the meat fest continued (note this probably isn’t the best restaurant to bring a vegetarian to) with two delicious beef dishes. One a slow cooked short rib and the othera perfectly cooked sirloin. Both nicely charred that provided a lovely smokey flavour that was enhanced greatly with their rich jus’. These were really two rather simple dishes but when the beef is that good it would probably be a shame to do much else with it. Simple is also not in any way a criticism; both dishes really hit the spot.
Puddings (after a cheeky, if rather dull British cheese course) finished the meal off perfectly. I was all ready to go for the Tipsy Cakes (brioche basted in booze for a full 35 minutes of cooking time) until noticing (on my second online menu reading) that it came with the one ingredient I won’t eat; pineapple. Thankfully my girlfriend has no such problem so went for it and yes, it is as good as it sounds with a lovely sugary topping reminiscent of the bread and butter puddings my mum used to make (but with more booze). After being lucky enough to get a lemon suet pudding I’d recommend anyone with a taste for lemon and toffee to also see if there are any knocking around as for me it was perfect. I can imagine that it was hoped that the outer casing would be softer and more like a steamed suet pudding case but the hardened outer shell and oozing inner made me feel like I was eating a new kind of chocolate fondant; with the chocolate being replaced by lemon and toffee and that was very much relevant to my interests.
So how good is Dinner? Certainly one of the most pleasurable meals I’ve had for a long time with the food and service bring a smile to my face on numerous occasions. Is it London’s version of The Fat Duck? No and I don’t really think that it is trying to be. It’s been labeled a brasserie but that might not be considered praise enough. I was lucky enough to get to speak to Heston and Ashley just before leaving and I think they summed it up best by calling it “something else, not The Fat Duck and not really a brasserie. Something else.”.
Regardless of what it finally gets labeled as to me it’s awesome fun and that is a very good thing. If you’ve got a booking I hope you’re looking forward to it, if not I’ve been told that if you give them a ring they do get a few cancellations so have more tables available than the “booked up until May” message their automated phone system proudly pronounces.Tweet