Ever since its opening a few years ago, I wanted to visit Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental in London, Knightsbridge. Heston Blumenthal is world-renowned for its three Michelin stars molecular cuisine restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, 1 hour outside of London. But Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is not less renowned, as it currently ranks on place 5 on the list of the world’s best restaurants (http://www.theworlds50best.com/list/1-50-winners).
What intrigued me the most is the fusion between modern British cuisine and the posh setting of the Mandarin Oriental. It is not understated that I had high expectations of my visit to Knightsbridge. Booking “only” three weeks in advance, it seemed plausible than a dinner reservation on a Friday or Saturday night was impossible, so we went for lunch. Which was a great idea since they serve a three course set lunch for £38 from Mondays to Fridays, an excellent deal. For each course you can choose from two options (usually one fish and one meat) and if you like you can opt for the suggested glass of wine to go with your meal.
For starters I chose hay smoked salmon with smoked beetroot, pickled lemon salad, parsley and sorrel while my fiancé had ragoo of pigs ear on toast with anchovy, onions & parsley. The tastes were quite strong: earthy and bitter for me, sweet and rustic for him. We both enjoyed our first course although I did find the pigs ear toast too sweet for my taste.
On we went with roast pollack with confit parsnips, buttermilk, sea beet and lemon balm. The fish was perfectly cooked and the flavors were well balanced. The accompanying glass of a quite young and very crisp Riesling was a logical choice but a bit characterless and timid.
The dessert, a Millionaire tarte, was my least preferred part of the menu. I found the shortbread too dry and the chocolate and caramel layers were very heavy, quite bitter and too gooey. I know Millionaire tarte is all about decadence, but this one lacked in finesse, texture refinement and balance of flavors. What a pity!
All in all I am rather ambivalent about my experience at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Although there were no technical faults, the lunch left me with a rather uninspiring aftertaste and did not convey any feelings. This type of establishment should certainly be able to excel in both technicality but also in the transmission of emotions. I am more so disappointed as I learned later on that the restaurant actually holds two stars. My first time eating in a two stars restaurant was at Tanja Grandits in Basel, which was cooking on a completely different level in my opinion (read my review here: https://latabledemirabelle.wordpress.com/2014/04/14/tanja-grandits-restaurant-stucki-basel/).
Do not get me wrong, the restaurant serves excellent cuisine, but for me it completely misses one dimension. Choosing the set menu and not eating à la carte should not make any difference.
A quick word on the service and location. The location is rather large and noisy and quite cluttered with big design elements. Not really my style, but some people might like it. If you can, ask for a table near the window, you’ll have a gorgeous view on Hyde Park. The service was impeccable but again quite impersonal.
There are certainly more exciting restaurants you can eat at in London, but if you want to go for a neat and polished dinner without any surprises, why not.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA
T el +44(0)20 7201 3833