Saturday, November 12, 2011


'DINNER' is the name of Heston Blumenthal's new restaurant in Hyde Park, London. In the past, the main meal - 'dinner' - was eaten at midday, whilst it was still light outside. But candles and, later, gaslight saw 'dinner' shift to later times. People working in the cities were taking a 'lunch' to work and having their main meal - dinner - at 5.00 pm when they got home. But even today, depending where you are in the British Isles, 'dinner' might still be served at lunchtime, but suppertime is the more preferable.

Ashley Palmer-Watts joined Heston Blumenthal at The 'Fat Duck' in Bray in 1999 when it had just received its first Michelin star. Within two years, he was promoted to Sous Chef and he became Head Chef in 2003. Since 2008, he has been the Executive Head Chef for the Fat Duck group. Ashley currently heads up the kitchen at 'DINNER' - Fig 1.

Fig 1 - the 'Dinner' restaurant with the 'pineapple logo' - the idea behind this is explained later on.

Aviva, James and I had a late sitting at 9.30pm. Walking in to the restaurant, you were immediately struck by the design of the whole space. You walked through 'wine storage areas' that were temperature controlled depending on the type of wine. Then you stepped into an 'open planned' room, that had partial walls to reduce the level of the noise. There was an 'open' kitchen' behind glass walls, and a 'chefs table' next door to the kitchen. In the 'open kitchen' the main courses are made; but there are two kitchens hidden in which cold things are prepared. There is also another kitchen downstairs where all the preparation is done. The waiting staff at 'dinner' were truly excellent, friendly and an absolute wealth of information about the 'dinner' menu.

We were seated at the table - Fig 2, on which was already placed the 'dinner' menu - Fig 3.

Fig 2 - Aviva, Barry and James at the 'dinner' table

Fig 3 - the 'starters' on the 'dinner' menu

We then had the opportunity to peruse the menu, which has its basis, cooking wise, from the 1300's onwards. Boston sourdough bread was served that was just delicious. Then the three of us chose different 'starters' - Figs 4a and b, 5 and 6.

Fig 4a - Aviva chose 'Meat Fruit' (c. 1500) which is mandarin jelly coated chicken liver parfait and grilled bread. The mandarin jelly tastes, and is real mandarin

Fig 4b - the mandarin split open to reveal the chicken parfait

Fig 5 - Barry had 'Savoury Porridge' (c. 1660) which consisted of snails cooked sous vide, girolles, garlic and fennel - it was absolutely delicious

Fig 6 - James had 'Rice and Flesh' (c. 1390) which consisted of saffron, calf tail and red wine - truly scrumptious!

Then we had the main course - Figs 6 and 7

Fig 6 - Aviva and James had different varieties of steak. The steak was cooked sous vide and was absolutely tender and extremely tasty. These steaks were served with mushroon ketchup, red wine juice and the famous Heston Blumenthal triple cooked chips

Fig 7 - Barry had Powdered Duck Breat (c. 1670) which was a piece of duck breast cooked sous vide with smoked confit fennel and umbles (liver, kidney and other portions of the inside of venison and other animals)

And then we shared two desserts - Fig 8 - Tipsy Cake (c. 1810) and Fig 9 - Taffety Tart (c. 1660)

Fig 8 - Tipsy Cake is pineapple brioche with split roasted pineapple. Hence the 'pineapple' as the logo for this restaurant

Fig 9 - Tafferty Tart with apple, rose, fennel and blackcurrant sorbet

The Sommeliars are expert in their choice of wine, and whilst we only had a few glasses of wine - it was really terrific wine that we chose.

The meal finished with a small shot glass of mint chocolate ganache, which was super.

So that was the ending to a fabulous dinner at 'dinner'. Bookings are at a premium, but if you happen to be in London - then try and go to 'DINNER' - it is fantastic and one worth the fabulous experience!

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