Ever since I saw Heston Blumenthal create an edible coral reef and then build a pub in a pie, I have been fascinated by his creativity and have been looking forward to trying one of his restaurants ever since I moved into London. For my first Heston experience, I chose to visit Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental, which I've heard much praise about.
I expected a lot of grandeur in my surroundings, but it was in fact very modern with dark wood furniture and a glass encased kitchen that you could look into as you ate. From here you can see the slow roasted pineapples spinning by an open fire, being repeatedly brushed with honey, to be served with their signature Tipsy Cake! The whole atmosphere was quite casual and unstuffy, which was not what I expected but welcomed. Also, the service was very attentive and helpful throughout, which I really appreciated because I hadn't looked into the menu before visiting.
I started with one of their signature 'must-haves', the Meat Fruit, which is a chicken liver parfait coated in an orange jelly and made to look like a tangerine - first featured on the Medieval-themed episode of Heston's Feasts. The liver parfait was extremely smooth and very light in texture, probably one of the best liver parfaits I've encountered before. The liver/offal tastes were mild, but was seasoned with strong punchy flavours, all of which were nicely balanced out by the slightly tangy orange jelly. The slice of chargrilled bread it came with was also a great companion, as you could still taste hints of its smoky flavour on top of the liver parfait, but I could definitely have done with more than one slice.
For my main course, I had the Pork Chop upon the recommendation of the staff, a dish that I usually avoid because pork is so often either tasteless or overcooked. The pork chop here was done very well, served slightly pink so that the meat is firm but tender. I thought that it could have been dressed with a bit more sauce, since the pork chop was quite thick-cut, but nevertheless all the flavours in the dish were good.
For desserts, we first had the Tipsy Cake, which is another signature 'must-have' at Dinner. The cake is served warm and oozing with custard and was delicious in itself, but even more satisfying when had with a chunk of the slow roasted pineapple it comes with.
We also tried the Brown Bread Ice Cream, which I didn't like too much. This may be because I didn't manage to get all the layers at the same time as we'd been told to do but overall I found the flavours slightly underwhelming (although I'm not sure what I expected out of a brown bread flavoured ice cream?).
Finally, we were treated to a small chocolate ganache and biscuit. It was snowing that day (during that freakish spell of weather we had in March), so we took the time to enjoy the tranquil view of snow falling on Hyde Park in the warmth over some teas and coffees.
While this meal is undoubtedly on the costly side, the environment, the service and the standard of food is definitely up there with its price tag.
Price: £ £ £ £ out of 5
You can find the Dinner by Heston home page here.