Mar 10, 2012

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Knightsbridge, London.

From the moment the uniformed doormen ushers you into the foyer of one of Knightsbridge's most distinguished hotels you have no choice but to leave 2012 behind and embrace old world English grandeur.  It is both a visual and tactile step back in time.  The  marble of the floors and walls is so thick it actually mutes your foot falls and voice.  The carpets are so plush you can feel yourself sinking into it as you climb the stairs.

In keeping with the aim of being as British as possible on this holiday, Mr SSG and I managed to wrangle a table for dinner (funnily enough) at Dinner, Heston Blumenthal's critically acclaimed and much talked about restaurant which is in the hotel.  Dinner is Heston's tribute to the rich history of British cooking.  The dishes that feature on the menu have their origins  in classic English dishes of centuries past with fresh interpretations by Heston and his team.

But first, a cocktail at the Mandarin Bar.  The cocktail menu is divided by city of origin and useful symbols to the left of each offering provide a quick summary of the kind of cocktail it is - champagne, martini etc.

The Mandarin also gets my vote for the best potato chips served as a bar snack.
Cocktail hour at The Mandarin Oriental (highly rated by Time Out magazine as one of the best bars in the city) is a very sedate affair.  Despite the bar being full, the noise level barely rose above a stage whisper.  I don't think I've ever been to a bar where the patrons are intent on discretely enjoying their drinks with their immediate circle of friends or clients as opposed to 'being seen' by the entire crowd as they imbibe.

To toast the Mandarin Bar's unpretentiousness, I had a Sloane Avenue Sling, a champagne cocktail.

And Mr SSG had a Chelsea Gardener.

All too soon, we were escorted to our table at Dinner.

The dining room is decorated with playful touches like these porcelain wall sconces in the shape of jelly moulds which contrast the understated elegance of the tables and chairs.

Heston's little jokes continue at the bare tables where the inside of the menu holder unfolds to reveal little tidbits about British dining through the centuries.

Salted butter and bread.
As I read the menu, I began to panic at the thought of what Salamugundy (c. 1720) actually was.  Flashbacks of episodes of The Supersizers danced through my head.  I pondered whether a chicken oyster was part of a chicken or in fact a type of oyster. It's actually a region of chicken vertebra with the most tasty marrow within.  I relaxed when I saw the dishes being delivered to the tables around us.

Hay Smoked Mackarel, 14.50 GBP.

Mr SSG ordered the Hay Smoked Mackarel (c. 1730) as an entree.  We were both transfixed with the way salad greens were used to great effect in the appearance of the dish and how well they went with the gentleman's relish and olive oil.

Buttered Crab Loaf, 16 GBP.

I began with the Buttered Crab Loaf (c1714) which was served with roe, pickled lemon and cucumber.      From the first forkful, my anxieties about 18th century British cuisine disappeared.  The contrast in textures and flavours of the crab loaf with the greens still has appeal to the palates of diners 300 years or so later.

Spiced Pigeon, 33 GBP.

The Spiced Pigeon (c 1780) with ale and artichokes was Mr SSG's main.  The meat is served on the pink side and in Mr SSG's words, 'needed a glass of pinot' to do it justice.

Which he didn't get around to ordering as we were one of many tables sharing a bottle of champagne over dinner.

Chcken with Lettuces, 29 GBP.

Chicken is an interesting choice at restaurants.  I sometimes feel like it's a cop out ordering a meat I cook so often at home.  Almost as if it's not 'special' enough to order for dinner at the restaurant of a highly innovative chef.  Nevertheless, I was curious to see what Heston could do with a chicken breast and ordered the Chicken cooked with Lettuces (c1670) which was served with a celeriac sauce and oyster leaves.  It was the most tender chicken breast I've eaten and I finished my meal feeling pleasantly full rather than weighed down with butter and cream.  Who would have thought lettuce leaves lend themselves to well to being cooked?

Potato Mash.

We shared a serve of mashed potato that was a five star meal on its own.

We decided to share a dessert and there was only one choice for me.

Tipsy Cake, 10 GBP.
The Tipsy Cake (c1810).  If only for the name.  The cake is traditionally made using sponge soaked in alcohol.  It's also been referred to as Tipsy Parson cake, being the one dessert that could lure religious leaders off the wagon, if only for dessert.  Dinner's version is served with spit roasted pineapple which was deliciously caramelised and tender.

I can see why a pastor may have come unstuck over dessert.
Dessert was an indulgence of rich and familiar flavours after the challenging flavours of the preceding courses.

To finish, we were served a second dessert of chocolate mousse flavoured with Earl Grey tea.

Dinner at Dinner was a unique journey into the history of British cuisine via impeccable service in rather glamorous surroundings.  It was one of those fine dining adventures I will remember for challenging my taste buds and introducing me to cooking techniques I would not otherwise have found on my own.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on Urbanspoon


  1. Oh yummy! Everything looks delicious! Did you book very far in advance?

    K xx

  2. Not for Monday night.  We did eat early, 6.30pm though.

    SSG xxx

  3. What a wonderful adventure!

  4.  It all looks delicious! Nothing wrong with eating early!

    K xx

  5. I had no idea Heston had more than 1 restaurant...shows you how much I know about food outside of Sydney hey! 

  6. loving these posts! for some reason i thought you were over there alone but am BEYOND happy to read that you're there with Mr SSG - nothing like an adventure shared, very jealous as i couldn't get Guv to come back with me when i went back to the UK 18 months ago!


  7. holy cow that looks delicious!!

  8. Leanne Shea LangdownMarch 12, 2012 at 7:22 AM

    I am liking the look of that Sloane Avenue Sling

  9. I am SO insanely jealous of this dinner.. oh my god it looks good... I think I'm most jealous of the mash, which might sounds weird but I LOVE mash. Covet the stuff.


  10. I love The Supersizers! Too bad I didn't get to watch all of them though. I think I only watched the post-war, 70s, 80s and Victorian age episodes. 

    I wonder how much of the food at Dinner was "interpretation" vs historical. Did they have pineapples in England in the 1700s?


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