Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
London SW1X 7LA
Some friends and I celebrated the end of finals with a celebratory dinner at Heston Blumenthal’s newest London outfit, Dinner, last week. The food is a walk-through of traditional pub food through the centuries, revived in typical Heston pizzazz – liquid nitrogen, sous-vide et. al. Dinner is the place to go to if one is looking for an introduction to Heston’s unique dining experience, or if the Fat Duck is too out-of-the-way.
Meat Fruit (c.1500) – Mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread
The meat fruit has been much talked and blogged about. If you think about it, it really is just a chicken liver spread that has been prettily wrapped up in mandarin flavoured jelly. It wasn’t so much the chicken liver but the idea of combining it with the jelly that did it for me. 10 points for presentation and a pleasant starter all around.
Roast Marrowbone (c.1720) – Snails, parsley, anchovy & mace, pickled vegetables
Deep-fried sweetbreads with asparagus
For the uninitiated, sweetbreads are spare parts of the calf or lamb that have been soaked in salt water, dipped in milk, breaded and deep-fried. These were incredibly smooth and rich, with a faint taste of iron that lingers at the back of your tongue (much like the taste of liver). I liked it a lot, but it might not appeal to everyone.
Powdered Duck Breast (c.1670)
This was duck breast prepared in the sous-vide method. It essentially involves vacuum wrapping a piece of meat and throwing it into a controlled low-heat (typically 55 degrees celcius) water bath to cook for a long period of time. The method is intended to ensure the meat is cooked evenly without overdoing the outside. If I had 24 hours to prepare my dinner I’d sous-vide everything too!
Black Foot Pork Chop (c.1860)
Spiced Pigeon (c.1780) – in ale
I didn’t order this myself but I did filch a sliver off my friend Belinda’s plate. I liked the pigeon’s gamey taste and the slight acidity in the ale-infused gravy.
Tipsy Cake (c. 1810) – with spit roasted pineapple
This was probably the highlight of the night. The spit-roasted pineapples were on display behind a glass panel separating the kitchen from the dining room. The juices had been lovingly teased out from within and the caramelised coating on the outside of the pineapple sliver provided the fruit with a pleasant crunch. The cake in its cast-iron pot was warm, soft and well-risen, more bread than cake. A perfect complement to the pineapple slice. We weren’t sure about the tipsy part of the dessert though. I was fairly certain there wasn’t any alcohol in it.
Brown Bread Ice-Cream (c. 1830)- Salted butter caramel, pear & malted yeast syrup
This was a really nice and complex dessert- the ice cream was malty, salty, sweet and crunchy. Together with the tipsy cake it thoroughly completed the evening.
Quaking Pudding (c.1660) – Pear, perry, caramel & lime
I really liked this dessert. It reminded me of those adorable jelly cups I grew up with in childhood. It was mildly amusing watching it quake and quaver (as the name suggests) when the waiter brought it to the table. Aesthetics aside, the pudding was smooth and consistent, and the sauce that it was drenched in was mellow and not too sweet. I’ve always had a thing for stewed fruits as well, and I enjoyed the pears very much.
Liquid Nitrogen-Hand Crank Ice Cream Machine
We didn’t order this but the table next to us did. It involves pouring a flask of liquid nitrogen into a ice-cream machine whilst turning the hand crank to flash-freeze vanilla ice-cream. You have to order it by the table, £8 pax.
Dinner was an enjoyable night out – we were treated to good service, a pleasant dining experience and some delightfully whimsical food, as is Heston Blumenthal’s style. We were in rarefied company that night as well – Marcus Wareing, a two-star Michelin chef himself, was having dinner at the table next to us.