Har Gau


Saturday 12 November 2011

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London

Website here. Nearest tube station: Knightsbridge. Full set of Flickr photos: Here

Knightsbridge Road Sign

OK - first things first. The real reason we actually found the courage to book a table here was because of the Set Lunch Menu available only on weekdays from 12-2pm. The most important feature of this Set Menu was the Set Price of £28 for 3 courses. As I didn't fancy taking out a short-term loan from Wonga for the purpose of this lunch, this was pretty much the closest we'd ever get to eating anything that comes out from a Heston Blumenthal kitchen.

Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Knightsbridge, London

Of all the things we could've done with our free, unemployed daytime, we chose to do this. Yes, it has been my dream for many years to be able to take advantage of all these mouth-watering, money-saving lunch deals that seem to taunt most decent, wage-earning people stuck in an office from 9am to 5pm. Deals which do not exist when these hard-working people leave the office, and deals which never are valid at weekends. (Yes, I also understand why this is so, but never you mind.)

Dinner by Heston - Menu Nov 2011

So, in our first week of free-time-dom, we put on our finest finery and got ourselves on the Tube towards Knightsbridge. I'd never been into the Mandarin Oriental before, so those really grand doors were really quite imposing and a little intimidating.

Dinner by Heston - Restaurant interior

Thing is, though, everyone at that hotel is just so friendly. From the doorman to the lady at Dinner's reception counter thing, to every single one of the waiting staff who served us during lunch. All so very friendly, very welcoming, and always ready with a pleasant little chat whenever they came to our table. Rarely had I ever encountered such genuinely pleasant and warm waiting staff from 'posh' restaurants like this one.

Dinner by Heston - Table settingDinner by Heston - Menu Nov 2011

This possibly contributed towards the first time I'd ever felt like wanting to actually pay the 10% discretionary service charge added on to the bill. Heck, why not even 12.5%.

Dinner by Heston - Jelly mould lights

Plus, they have jelly mould lights.

View of Hyde Park From Dinner by Heston

There wasn't much point in debating what to order because there was only 2 items to choose from per course, and since we were going to try every one, we just kinda said to the waitress "One of every item, please". And, because we'd seen it on telly many times before, we decided to order the Meat Fruit too (more on this later). With nothing much else to do in between ordering and waiting for the food to arrive, I looked wistfully out the window at the orange autumn leaves scattered all over Hyde Park.

They really should do more sweeping.

Dinner by Heston - Bread and salted butter

As with all good restaurants, complimentary posh bread.

Or as I call it, "A Minute On The Lips, And Somehow Things Don't Fit."

Now before you think I'm being all mathematical with my circa this and that, the numbers after each dish represent the year in which the recipe or dish was first discovered. Or so I'm told.

Dinner by Heston - Lemon Salad (c.1730) Goat's curd, Buckler Sorrel & Raisins

Lemon salad (c.1730) Goat's curd, Buckler Sorrel & Raisins

OK this was not a good start to the meal, but luckily this was not representative of the items yet to be tasted. Blame my unsophisticated tastebuds, but to me, this tasted like some goats cheese had been whacked on a plate, drizzled with some lemony tangy drizzle and made a little more interesting with some plump, juicy raisins. Finished it all anyhow. Like I was gonna leave any of it unfinished - come on ... it would have cost easily £15 or so if it wasn't on the set menu so I was gonna inhale every bit of it even it it did taste like goats cheese on a plate. Which it was.

Dinner by Heston - Ragoo of Pigs Ears (c.1750) Anchovy, Onions and Parsley

Ragoo of Pigs Ears (c.1750) Anchovy, Onions and Parsley

Now I really liked this. Earthy, very full-flavoured, and interestingly crunchy yet soft - this tasted like something very familiar. I've had pigs ears before but never like this. The Chinese method of serving pigs ears is usually either the cold, stewed version of it sliced finely, or in some sort of (disgusting) jellied terrine. This version was surprising and introduced a very refreshing spin on a part of the pig so commonly overlooked. It went ridiculously well with the thick, absorbent and chewy slice of bread sat comfortably underneath the saucy mountain of ear slices.

OK OK - now comes the exciting bit. I mean, come on, this IS Heston Blumenthal's restaurant. And come on, I HAD to try it. So, don't get too excited (I know I did), but here it is.


Dinner by Heston - Meat Fruit (c.1500) Mandarin, Chicken Liver Parfait and Grilled Bread

Meat Fruit (c.1500) Mandarin, Chicken Liver Parfait and Grilled Bread £14.50

Possible like every other person before me (and after), I'd ordered this simply because I'd seen it on Heston's Feasts programme and it looked so darned good. The chicken liver parfait ball is dipped in a jelly infused with mandarin puree (recipe here) before it's left to set and cool.

Dinner by Heston - Meat Fruit (c.1500) Mandarin, Chicken Liver Parfait and Grilled Bread

Had to give it a squeeze. Come on - you would've done the same. It just looked so ... squeezable. You'd be pleased to know that it did not maintain the original shape after being squeezed, and sat there forlornly looking quite squashed so we quickly ate it.

Dinner by Heston - Meat Fruit (c.1500) Mandarin, Chicken Liver Parfait and Grilled Bread

Because as some people always like to say (and I am NOT one of them) - you eat with your eyes first or something along those lines - I had expected the parfait to taste of something orange. Or at least a hint of orange. But nope. I know the recipe said mandarin puree, and it's been written on other places about this being a mandarin chicken liver parfait but I didn't manage to taste any citrus in it. Not a criticism because who am I to criticise this genius of a chef who can pummel me with his Michelin star, but just sayin'.

Aside from that, it sure tasted good. In fact, MORE than good. Good-er?

It tasted like a hundred chickens had been put into this dish. It was meaty, it was intensely smooth, it was so many things. And it was the best chicken liver parfait I'd ever had.

Smothered on to the delicious piece of toast, this was not only a fabulous specimen of a starter, but, dare I say it - it was almost worth the £14.50 we paid for it. Portion-wise, nothing to complain about. Taste-wise, definitely nothing to complain about. Price-wise ... hey, I'll always complain about the price so let's be realistic and leave it at that.


Sure is a popular dish.

Dinner by Heston - Cured Salmon (c.1670) Beetroot, Sea Aster & Olive Oil

Cured Salmon (c.1670) Beetroot, Sea Aster and Olive Oil

Part-way through chewing on this, the husband and I consulted one another on what we thought of the dish. It's tough trying to look like you're thinking, while munching, so with quite an amusing-yet-thoughtful look on his face, he said something along the lines of "Mmm. Mmm mm ... mmmmm?"

Where as I went, "I think it's good, but I prefer the texture of the one we had at Casa Mia" (bearing in mind that it's a completely different dish, made by completely different chefs, and so cannot possibly be compared but hey).

Dinner by Heston - Cured Salmon (c.1670) Beetroot, Sea Aster & Olive Oil

This salmon was lovely and fresh, with natural sweetness and a lovely flaky texture to it, with the texture slowly changing towards the middle of the piece of fish. Thing is, unlike the poached version we had at Casa Mia, where I really liked the spongy, resistant texture of the fish, I couldn't really tell the difference in texture in the different bits of this fish.

Dinner by Heston - Cured Salmon (c.1670) Beetroot, Sea Aster & Olive Oil

Even though I could tell by looking at it that the textures were meant to be different, I just couldn't distinguish the difference when chewing on it. So, while it tasted nice and all, perhaps it didn't quite achieve what it set out to achieve? Or maybe I'm just being over-analytical on a piece of fish. Such pretentious behaviour really has no place on this blog. I shall shut up on the topic of fish.

Dinner by Heston - Bath Chaps (c.1860) Savoy Cabbage, Lardo, Ham hock & Robert broth

Bath Chaps (c.1860) Savoy Cabbage, Lardo, Ham hock and Robert broth

Lardo and Robert Broth sound like quite fun guys, don't they.

This dish was easily my favourite of all the items we had. It was simple to eat, and it had all my favourite things in it.

Meat - yup. Cabbage - yes please. Delicious gravy which tasted like it contained all the best intense meaty juices of the last century condensed into one tablespoon of gravy goodness - uh huh. And as an added bonus, the texture of the meat was tender and yet chewy.

DInner by Heston - Prune & Tamarind tart (c.1720)

Prune & Tamarind Tart (c.1720)

You know how if you've been presented with loads and loads of amazing, tap-dancing gold fish, and suddenly a 'common' goldfish is just not so impressive anymore? Yes, that is indeed described commonly as 'being spoiled'.

Which is exactly how I felt when this was brought out. I don't know what I was expecting but it sure wasn't a slice of what looked like creme brulee in triangular form. But this is being rather harsh on a dish so lovingly created by the chefs working hard behind the glass-covered kitchen so just disregard all that I've said in the paragraph above.

The sugar-crust thing did crack when tapped on like a creme brulee, and the consistency of the tart filling was creamy and thick like in a creme brulee. And while the taste of it was also slightly creamy with a hint of rich egg like a creme brulee - this tart had a base to it which no creme brulee has ever had.

We finished it, we enjoyed it, and it was not creme brulee.

Dinner by Heston - Orange Buttered Loaf (c.1630) Mandarin & thyme sorbet

Orange Buttered Load (c.1630) Mandarin & thyme sorbet

Also described as 'Husband's Favourite Dessert Of All Time Except For His Mam's Apple Crumble Which Cannot Ever Be Relegated'.

Mmm warm and squishy and all things comforting - this was deliciousness in a loaf. Bready and soaked through and through with all things citrusy, every spoonful yielded the most tantalising, tangy mouthful of doughy goodness imaginable. And then, like a little burst of sunshine, the sorbet with its curiously-sweet-yet-slightly-indescribable-but-wonderful taste cleansed the palate to ready it for the comforting orange buttered loaf again.

Dinner by Heston - Chocolate with Earl Grey Tea Infusion

Maybe it was because we looked like we weren't full enough (if the belly-rub isn't a universal sign of being full, I don't know what is), or maybe we were just nice to the waitress that day, they brought over this little cup of chocolate mousse infused with Earl Grey Tea.

Which I couldn't say no to. So here we go again.

It was amazing. It was like molten chocolate which somehow someone had managed to blend in with some Earl Grey Tea. I finished it. Very full. Can't type.

DInner by Heston - Lunch billDInner by Heston - Lunch bill

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon

1 comment:

Awesome said...

wow looks great

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