Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Dinner by Heston - Mandarin Hotel, London

Welcome to the Mandarin Hotel, home to Dinner by Heston. I was staying in London with good friends, foodies and cocktail enthusiasts. I value people that value great dining and drinking experiences. It's not enough to just eat for calories, one must occasionally savor. We talked of Fat Duck, 3 Michelin stars, far away in distance and budget. Then we moved to Dinner by Heston, possessor of 1 Michelin star and ranked #9 on The World's 50 Best Restaurants. Through mild wrangling, my friend and I landed an afternoon reservation.
We were escorted through the lounge area, subtly lit yet eye catching to the color-ADD among us. I was excited. Meat Fruit was foremost in my mind. My friend could only describe it as pate that looked like fruit. To the internet!
Wow! Heston is a culinary artist! I was singing Meat Fruit all week leading to this event. When isn't an anticipated restaurant not an event? We ordered as if we were on a mission. There was mild debate about the second course, but went with Meat Fruit, Black Foot Pork Chop, Tipsy Cake, and Brown Bread Ice Cream.
While we waited, they served us bread and lightly salted butter. The wait staff here is charming, efficient, and their timing impeccable. They serve without hovering, charm with but an accent tinted phrase. Having finished the bread, they ask "Would you like some more?" And hem and haw, knowing I shouldn't, but the gentleman says "Why not?" Why not, indeed? More bread is in front of me and I continue carb loading waiting for my Meat Fruit.
Chicken liver parfait encased inside a mandarin jelly mold accompanied by grilled bread. The orange color is correct, it has the topmost dimple, yet there is something off about this mandarin. 
Discard the "stem" and gently cut open. The orange exterior reveals the creamy meat parfait lurking beneath. Spread liberally on your grilled bread and lustfully enjoy. It will leave you hungering for more.
Here we have the Black Foot Pork Chop featuring Hispi cabbage, lardo, ham hock & Robert sauce. The cabbage and lardo were a lighter airy side to the brash ham hock. I had expected the lardo to be much more decadent and rich, but the ham merely hinted. The Pork Chop was good, but not great. I suppose I did not fully appreciate that this came from the Black Iberian Pig.
While researching Dinner by Heston, I found a featurette video highlighting tipsy cake. It's a spit roasted spiraled pineapple with a custardy brioche (I'm borrowing from other descriptions here. I must inquire more specifically if there's a next time). The pineapple had been rotisseried, cooked and basted in caramel for 2-4 hours. Since my mind was occupied with whole pineapple images, it hard for me to fully appreciate this dessert. It was certainly a rich complementary pairing.

Here is my favorite dessert, the Brown Bread Ice Cream featuring Salted butter caramel, pear & malted yeast syrup. Our server advised that we cut through all three layers with our spoons. I appreciate the care they take with their presentation. Three textures, intertwined flavors, a savory marriage. 
Our palates were finished with an Earl Grey Chocolate Ganache and Caraway Seed biscuit. I enjoyed the biscuits and my friend enjoyed the two ganache.

Want more Heston? Click here.
Room with a view - the kitchen.
Champagne service.
The menu.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, 

Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park

66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA

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