Well, having been totally unimpressed by the fact that I had only been to three of the restaurants voted in the San Pellegrino Acqua Panna Top-100 in the world, I decided I simply had to do something about it. The easiest solution – go to lunch at Dinner by Heston. It’s in Knightsbridge in London which is close to home.
As luck would have it, Sarah, one of my travelling companions from Italy last year, and I had planned to meet for lunch and she jumped at the suggestion…and I managed to get a table. Dinner is ranked seventh in the world.
One of the many great things about London is that a lot of the top restaurants do amazing lunch deals. Dinner is one of them – and you can have a three-course lunch for £36. So, not such an indulgence really.(Sorry if this Dinner/Lunch thing is getting confusing – to clarify, the restaurant’s called Dinner and we went for lunch.)
I walked in to be greeted by smiling, welcoming faces, a beautiful view across Hyde Park and the news that we’d been given a table by the window. Great start…which got me all excited and led to me ordering a glass of pink champagne without looking at the wine list, oh well, caution to the wind and all that.
Heston’s menu is based on serious historical research on food through the centuries in the UK. Each dish has the approximate year it was around and there are cross references to where you can find out more about them. Clever concept.
After mouthwatering descriptions of the array of amazing dishes on offer we were a bit confused. So we decided that we’d go for the set menu (which offers a choice of two dishes for each course) and order both options and share. So I got to taste six dishes…fantastic.
Of course having fended off the more expensive food options we then, somehow, without too much hesitation decided to go big with the wine and have the sommelier’s recommendations with each course (by the glass, obviously). It’s such an amazing way to eat but obviously busts the budget.
Sarah and I are perfect dining companions because we both love food and eating out so much. When our food arrived, we literally ate half of our plateful and swapped. Probably not the most refined way of doing things and it did confuse the waitress, but it’s a great way to really get a feel for the food and taste as much as possible.
The amazing mackerel starter that was almost like mackerel sashimi and served with the thinnest slivers of fennel ever on amazing preserved lemon. The textures and flavours were simply fabulous.
The dressed snails arrived in a garden. Well, that’s what it looked like, a garden on a plate. Smoked beetroot was very smokey and the salty fingers were very salty, a seriously flavoursome garden.
The quail was quite substantial and so tasty, it just felt like a dish that a lot of time and effort had been put into creating. And Sarah even loved the cabbage, though she doesn’t like cabbage – what can I say?
The amazing seared salmon was so delicate and the musselly broth delicious. A real melt-in-the-mouth kind of dish.
And then desserts. As you will know if you read this blog regularly, I’m not much of a dessert person. Well, take my word for it – if you’re in a Heston Blumenthal restaurant you simply have to order dessert. Seriously, don’t even think twice.
The orange loaf was the best dessert I’ve ever eaten – I think mainly because it had that lovely, slightly bitter marmaladey flavour. And mandarin and thyme sorbet, really, sorbet doesn’t get better than this!
The chocolately option was layers of textures and flavours. Totally yummy too and, again, not horribly sweet like I often find with dessert.
By this stage we’d sampled several amazing wines from Spain, France and Italy. With our espresso we were presented with an after dessert! A stunning chocolate mousse served with caraway shortbread. I love caraway seeds which made it the absolutely perfect ending to what was one of those always-to-be-remembered lunches.
And if all that’s not just perfect anyway, we had this lovely view over Hyde Park.
We left Dinner on such a high! Okay, our credit cards had taken a serious bashing – our lunch didn’t cost us anywhere near £36 (what can I say, fine wine costs money!). But hey, it’s a once in a lifetime experience, right?? One I hope to be repeating later in the summer.
Oh and I’ve now been to two of the top-10 restaurants in the world! Better – but it’s still only four out of the top-100 so I really do need to keep focused!
Dinner by Heston is in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, just opposite Harvey Nichols.