Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park,
London SW1X 7LA
Tel. 020 7201 3833
Food type: British
Nearest tube: Knightsbridge
Website: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
I can’t believe it has taken me this long to visit Dinner. Part of the problem is that obtaining a reservation (on short notice) is tricky, in no part due to the restaurant being listed on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. The other reason is that it is easier for me to get to Bray (also known as Heston land) where I have the choice of dining at the Crown, the Hind’s Head or the Fat Duck. If I wanted the whole Heston experience, the Fat Duck was the only option while if I wanted something casual I could just as easily go to the Hind’s Head. Dinner sits somewhere in between casual and fine dining. After all it was opened with the concept of what it would be like if Heston would open a Bistro. You have formal, fine-dining service but at the same time you are still able to order a ‘simple’ plate of steak and chips. However, after many years of ‘not bothering’, we decided to pop in one Sunday afternoon for a lazy lunch.
The restaurant is located at the rear of the Mandarin Oriental – a smart choice given its view of Hyde Park. This space was previously occupied by Foliage although the room looks a lot more spacious than what I remember. The kitchen is visible in full view from the dining room as is the rotisserie, with whole pineapples roasting away. The tables are bare with no table-cloth in sight. The menu here is inspired by historical British dishes dating as far back as 1390, when the first cookbook was written in English (The Forme of Cury). Heston has drawn inspiration from many of these old recipes and updated them for the modern palate, although on many occasions, the associations with the original dish is very loose at best. On the back of the menu, there is a list of the cookbook the original recipe first appeared in. You can read a lot more about many of the dishes featured here in the ‘Historic Heston’ book. Despite the name of the restaurant, it is Heston’s right hand man Ashley Palmer-Watts who does the day-to-day cooking.