Scores: 2 M*/ 7 GFG / Z 26/ H 3
Dinner is the second restaurant from Heston Blumenthal, the first of course being The Fat Duck. It is in the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Knightsbridge and specialises in British food through the ages. I had been to the restaurant before and as it has just been awarded a second star by the Michelin guide (see my rant here) I was curious to see if it had changed much.
First the bad news, things did not start well. Our booking was at 14.15 and when I arrived the hostess at the desk outside the bar said that our table was not quite ready so would we mind sitting in the bar. We did not hear from anyone for 30 minutes until I signalled to the hostess as she was going through the bar, at this point she was very curt but informed us that it probably would not be too much longer. About 5 to 10 minutes later a waitress then came from the restaurant and took us to our table. I found this whole experience to be much less agreeable than I would expect from a restaurant of this calibre. There was not enough communication from the staff and my friend found the hostess rude. I would have been slightly less annoyed if they had just given me a 2.30 reservation time in the first place, it would have saved me rushing a bit and thus I would not had felt I had to run straight down the middle of a road to stop the bus to get there on time.
Thankfully the service got much better in the restaurant itself. All the staff were friendly, knowledgeable and enthusiastic. The restaurant itself is also very pleasant on a bright day with the park in the background; I used to like it when it was Foliage (RIP) too . However, another slight disappointment was the lack of an amuse-bouche.
For a starter, I recommended the meat fruit (£16.00) to my friend as if you have not been before it is worth trying. This is recipe from c.1500 comprising of chicken liver & foie gras parfait with mandarin gel, is served in the shape of a mandarin orange. This came with a slice of grilled brioche; more of this arrived as my friend reached for the main bread basket as he had run out, which was a nice touch. This was very tasty being a perfect balance of richness while being still very moreish. I decided to have the frumenty (£16.50), a recipe from c.1390 which is the oldest recipe on the menu. This had grilled octopus, smoked sea broth, pickled dulse (sea lettuce) and lovage. I think this was a fairly new dish; it definitely was not on the menu the last time I was here. The frumenty dish consisted of wheat in a mussel broth which had a smoky flavour, accompanied by octopus that had been slow cooked for several hours and finished off under the grill, leaving it with a great texture. All the ingredients here came together very well and the dish overall was not far off excellent.
For a main course we went for the bone in rib of Hereford prime beef with mushroom ketchup, meat jus and fries (£74.00) along with a side of buttered black cabbage. The beef had a pretty intense flavour and was cooked perfectly on a josper grill. This was certainly as good as Hawskmoor but perhaps not as good as some other steaks I have had. The fries were very nice although triple cooked chips they were not!
We did not have a dessert, despite a tempting looking menu and the nitro Ice-cream trolley as we were eating out again later. We were still given the pre-dessert which was a dark chocolate mousse infused with earl grey tea, served with a carraway cracker. This was superb, the flavours really worked and it was really just a perfect size for a taste.
This was a very nice meal and although I know I may not have seen the best the kitchen can do due to the stark main course I am not sure it is worth two stars. In fact it does not seem to have changed much al all over the last couple of years so what merits the upgrade who knows.