Dinner by Heston, The Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London ★★★★★
“It is Blumenthal – only on a small dose of Lorazepam”
It’s not often you say this after a lunch for two: ‘£280: well spent’.
It was a special occasion and I’d booked this Friday lunch many weeks before and – as is often the case with these things – the longer the wait; the greater the anticipation. Dinner by Heston – I was most certainly ready for you.
About a week before, whilst walking the dogs with my eldest brother, he had cautioned me from being too expectant. He had been to the Mandarin Orientals’ flagship restaurant a few months previous and, he glibly expressed, had had his eager hopes crushed. I didn’t take too much heed. This is a guy who lived on Walls sausages and peanut butter alone until after university. His wife had apparently, to his dismay, loved it. I shall be taking her culinary advice from henceforth. He was wrong.
So I knew what I was going to have. We started with a glass of 2006 Moet each. Obviously. They brought us bread. It’s difficult to get excited about bread…wrong. We got very excited about the bread and the moreish disk of fattening butter next to it. Too much butter for four slices of bread? Not today.
And so we ordered and received starters. One of us got Earl Grey cured Salmon (£17) and the other got Meat Fruit (£17.50). No prizes for guessing who ordered meat. I was so impressed with it that I can admit trying the salmon across from me (I do NOT waste my time with fish…normally) and even that was striking. But nobody cares: back to the meat. A pate dipped and set in a mandarin jelly, made to look like a mandarin itself. It was triumphant. Smooth and buttery, yes, but the best compliment I could pay it is thus: even after you get over the fact that it’s pate that looks like fruit… it is still the best pate you’ve ever had.
Where some restaurants are lucky to have one famous signature dish, Dinner has two. You are asked to order the Tipsy Cake (£14.50) with your mains as the cake that is served with the rotisserie pineapple is made to order. I did order it – this is perhaps unadventurous but I couldn’t care less. I wanted the two dishes that this place is known for. Both were excellent and it doesn’t matter anyway – I’ll be coming back asap – even if I will be having the same starter.
We both shared the Bone in Rib of Hereford Prime for 2 (£85). It was the first time that I’ve tried Triple Cooked Chips (Heston’s first ever recipe) and they didn’t let me down. A glass like crust surrounding perfectly fluffy centres of sexy spuds. Yes, sexy spuds. They…like everything else…were simply brilliant.
I wish I could find a small fault but if truth be told… I can’t and I don’t want to.
I’ve not mentioned the service (which was spot-on as you would expect) or the views across the park or into the square open-kitchen with Pineapple rotisserie on show – these all added to the occasion.
But no: Dinner by Heston is about exceptionally prepared food. It is Blumenthal – only on a small dose of Lorazepam. It is him: just slightly less wacky. Unlike (I suspect, because I still desperately long to go there) The Fat Duck – you could eat here three or four days a week: because it’s not all about the experience and the surprise. Yes they dip there pate’s in jelly and create ice-creams from liquids at the table and no doubt the salt in our butter came from some remote corner of the Aegaen sea, collected only by naked virgins and sent to London on BA First Class. But that’s Heston. He is utterly fucking mad. But crazy is great – and it only gets greater when somebody tells ‘Crazy’ to calm the hell down.
And so this is a Brasserie of the highest order where brilliantly prepared recipes of genius can be enjoyed in a comfortable setting. It, for me, is well worth its double Michelin. So if you don’t like it, fair enough… go back to your Walls and peanut butter mate: because you haven’t got a clue.
Price: £272.69 (£95 on booze, £30 service)
By the way and as a footnote: if you have a spare £5.5m for a one bed flat… there’s one for sale in One Hyde Park. And the reason to buy there my friends – Dinner by Heston room service! I’d have head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts on speed-dial 1.