Yesterday I met the lovely Katie for some lunch at Dinner.
We’ve both been dying to try Dinner and as she just popped over from Ireland, we decided to finally go.
Dinner is Heston Blumenthal’s Knightsbridge creation that sits snuggly in the Mandarin Oriental with views of Hyde Park. It doesn’t mimic the theatrical experience that is The Fat Duck, it instead has been established as a separate, bold entity with whispers of Fat Duck whimsy.
Dinner is an ode to British history, serving dishes inspired by recipes from centuries ago. The interior boasts dark woods and leather and is lit by large open windows overlooking Hyde Park. It’s very masculine with hints of femininity from porcelain wall sconces in the shape of antique jelly moulds and small bouquets of flowers.
After being seated in the middle of the restaurant, the lovely maître d’ offered a window side table that had since become available. We now had the perfect view of both Hyde Park and the restaurant. Our waitress arrived soon after to introduce us to the menu, which has the sources of origin for each dish listed on the back.
She was incredibly knowledgeable and clearly passionate as she took us through the menu, a small detail that really adds to the experience. We debated over dishes and asked countless questions, trying to decide how to narrow down our choices. We eventually decided on the three things we’ve heard most about: Meat Fruit, Triple Cooked Chips and Tipsy Cake.
Whilst we waited, a board of bread and granite slab of butter was served.
The rustic, traditional start to a historically inspired British meal.
But this wasn’t your normal slab of Lurpak.
A beautiful, deep yellow hunk of unpasteurized butter sprinkled with sea salt sat before us.
You may find this an irrelevant detail, but I hail from a country that has made unpasteurized products illegal in most states.
And I tend to find that anything illegal seems to taste just that much better.
We munched our bread slathered in heavenly, forbidden spread and picked apart the decor, wishing Heston would walk through the wine cave entrance and pull up a chair. We watched the horse guards ride past, an unintentional injection of historic Britain.
And then it arrived.
The famous Meat Fruit.
A perfect sphere, imitating a mandarin with a shiny, dimpled peel and green stem. The motivation behind this dish dating back to the c.1500 is from the old English habit of making one food appear as another.
When sliced open, the supposed citrus reveals itself to be a creamy, smooth parfait of chicken liver and foie gras surrounded by a gel of mandarin. The flavour was incredible and meaty with an orangey kick, which although was very decadent, was also somehow light. The toasted bread added a nice crunch, and was quickly offered to be replaced as we finished our slice.
We then tasted the triple cooked chips.
I have heard so much about these, that I was thoroughly disappointed upon my first bite.
You’d think being triple cooked would render it crispy and crunchy with just the right softness in the middle. Instead, they were all around rather chewy. And I can’t say I’m one for chewy chips. The flavour was good, a great saltiness that wasn’t overpowering and went well with the mushroom ketchup. But, I’m one for texture and this didn’t quite work for me.
Then came the Tipsy Cake, another of Dinner’s signature dishes.
This must be ordered well in advance to allow time for the gradual alcoholic basting.
A miniature cast iron pot contained the rum soaked, cream filled brioche. Upon first bite, all I could taste was pure decadence. Hot, creamy, vanilla and rum filled brioche with a crispy top melted in my mouth. We immediately decided we would like to wake up to this each morning.
The sweet bites are accompanied with spit roasted pineapple which creates a caramelised exterior and a sharp but sweet fruity centre. This cuts the sweetness of the brioche, but still allows a warm, fuzzy feeling.
Food Porn Alert.
As we had shared a clear enthusiasm for Chef Blumenthal’s genius, the waitress very kindly offered to take us on a tour of the kitchen.
The bustling kitchen whirred as I stood mesmerised by the prep line.
I spotted the Pineapple Spit Roast in the corner and blurted out a request to see it up close and personal. The waitress kindly obliged my child-like desire and led us through the maze of a kitchen.
We stared at the glistening fruits rotating next to the fire.
The chefs constantly coat them in a glaze to create their beautifully caramelised exterior.
After a quick pose as a Dinner chef, and an excited hello to head chef Ashely Palmer-Watts, we headed to the Meat Fruit cave.
Here, the frozen spheres of chicken liver & foie gras parfait are dipped into a mandarin gelatine which solidifies instantly from the cold.
I took a little video so you can see the mandarin dunk.
After harassing the chefs, we were led down a hallway to the pastry kitchen.
Rows of chocolate ganache cups sat waiting to finish off lunches.
Tipsy Cakes sat cooling on wire racks, ready to deliver bliss to some unsuspecting diner. And Bohemian Cakes were given their finishing touches. Thank you again to all the chefs for allowing us to slip through your kitchen during a busy service. We really appreciated it and the fantastic meal you served!
As we left the kitchen we spotted the Ice Cream Trolley.
One of Heston’s theatrical features which serves liquid nitrogen ice cream table-side topped with a selection of Heston-esque treats such as popping candy or freeze dried fruit.
We were too full to taste it, so I posed as Ice Cream maker instead.
Next time I’ll be all over this.
On the way back to the table I noticed a room for private meetings guarded by a pretty intimidating knocker. Sadly the room was occupied, but I am considering investing in this bad boy to deter any unwanted visitors. We went back to our tables, giddy with excitement from our behind the scenes tour.
A last little indulgence arrived, presumably served to soften the blow of the bill.
Luckily we had only shared a couple treats and the bill was bearable with or without the ganache.
But we wouldn’t have given up the ganache.
It was a deliciously smooth, silky chocolate infused with Earl Grey served with a caraway biscuit.
A last little decadent kiss goodbye.
Overall, the dishes were phenomenal and definitely crave-worthy.
The staff was incredibly gracious, knowledgeable and clearly passionate about where they work. Besides the unimpressive chips and my water glass being empty a few times, I cannot fault the experience.
This would be a lovely place for a special occasion or an impressive date.
I would definitely recommend giving this place a try and you can book here.