* “But he isn’t wearing anything at all!” Cried the child in the tale of the Emperor’s New Clothes. Let me tell you, I felt a bond with that kid when I dined at Dinner.
It’s not that the food is bad but rather that it isn’t special enough to warrant a 4 month wait. We are talking London after all, there are so many other options that are serving food that is as good and in a lot of cases a lot better.Neither can they claim to have the most interesting interior. With the obvious exception of the Ebel pineapple rotisserie and the quirky jello mould light fixtures. They have opted not to have tablecloths in a high-end restaurant (which is fine, Grant Achatz first did that 6 years ago when he opened Alinea in Chicago), that and the absence of carpet make for a raucous evening.
I feel that at Dinner, these decisions were taken less out of a desire to innovate and more for cost cutting because guess what? The dinning room and kitchen of Dinner are also used to serve breakfast to the Mandarin Oriental guests in the morning, I know, because we went there for breakfast the next day.
Going back to our dinner at Dinner, it was packed. And who should we have sitting one table over? Sir Paul McCartney and his brood: Stella; her husband Alasdhair Willis; McCartney’s new girlfriend Nancy Shevell; and his eldest daughter, Maria.). I gather, by the many gifts he was receiving, that he was there to celebrate his birthday. I took out my camera, got up from the table and….
….strode right past them to take a picture of the rotisserie pineapples. They must have been positively disoriented by that. I guess that serves to underline how food is becoming the new celebrity.
The undeniable star of the evening was the Meat Fruit, chicken liver parfait fashioned to look like a tangerine. Yes, the trompe l’oeil effect was astounding, more importantly to me though is that it ate really well. I had no trouble at all polishing the entire thing off. I had Breaded Sweet Breads for my main course, I found them rather large and clumsy but delicious nonetheless. My husband had the Rice and Flesh to start, a saffron risotto with veal tail and then the Sirloin of Black Angus (lovely but underseasoned) with triple cooked chips (yum) and mushroom ketchup (yuck). To all this we added a side of buttered carrots with caraway (too boring to eat more than one).
Because we were still kind of waiting for some fireworks, we ordered 3 desserts: Tipsy Cake with spit roast pineapple (how could we not!); Malted Barley ice cream, salted butter caramel, malted yeast syrup; the Chocolate Bar with passion fruit and ginger ice cream. It was all good but again, not worth the wait.Having eaten at the Fat Duck in Bray and now Dinner, my conclusion is that Heston Blumenthal should have opened up another Fat Duck in London since that seems to be where his skills lie.
Once the general hysteria around Dinner dies down, by all means visit! It’s very good value for London so you don’t have to save it for a special occasion.If I was giving any awards out, the one for Dinner would go to the PR company who took a hotel restaurant and made it the must visit destination for London 2011.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal,
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
London SW1X 7LA
020 7201 3833
* I will be writing from various cities in Europe for the month of June and will be back to Berlin and Berlin based posts from July. In the meantime check out “Places I’ve Eaten in ” for more reviews on restaurants in Berlin and “Berlin Favourites” for the places I recommend. And of course, I always love your comments and your emails so write!