Lunch at ‘Dinner’
15th Feb 2011
On the 1stof December 2010 when the reservation lines for Heston Blumenthal’s eagerly anticipated second restaurant opened, I was unfortunately sitting for my PostGrad Marketing exam. Thankfully, the prospect of not landing a prized table didn’t distract me and I happily passed and also managed to book a table for my Birthday. I went for lunch as I was conscious about fine dining pricing and yet thought of it as a first of many visits. Having never been to the Fat Duck (alas in Bray and never managing to master the reservations procedure), I was excited to celebrate and in between the weeks of opening to my visit, voraciously read every review and blog on it. Thereby, I knew the whole menu inside out before arrival. In some respects I regret this, as there were no surprises on the day and I knew exactly what was coming next. Amusingly enough, I also laughed at early diners mistaking the circa dating for calorie counts.
I was graced by the lovely company of a fellow food-loving tweep @EmmaLDickinson. We shared all the selections: I opted for the set lunch and we both agreed on al-a carte dishes. As a birthday request I’d specifically asked to be seated by the windows, having an early slot, we were fortuitous to have good weather and a lovely seat.
We met a couple of other twitter food lovers dining there and it was quite a sociable atmosphere. I realised later through reviews that within the first few months they weren’t turning tables, which is why we indulgently dined for five hours.
Drinks:We started as we meant to go on with 2002 Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Brut Champagne (ok, we succumbed to good up selling). To accompany our meal, we settled on a reasonably priced 2005 Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino, which complimented our meaty selections.
Starters: Dish 1: Meat Fruit (c.1500) beautifully presented on a wooden board and the creamiest liver parfait imaginable. After all the hoo-ha about it, it just had to be done, and the hype is definitely worth it, executed in such a fun manner.
Dish 2: Ragoo of pigs ears (c.1750) delicately soft with an anchovy seasoning. Dish 3: Rice and Flesh (c.1390) rich and creamy rice, deeply infused with saffron and calf tail.
Mains: Dish 4: Roast quail (c.1590) served with amazingly smoked parsnips and thyme type. Dish 5: Spiced pigeon (c.1780) with an ale sauce and melt in the mouth artichokes and pomme puree.
Dish 6: Triple cooked fries, infamous from Heston’s early TV appearance and now pretty much common place, I had to try the ‘originals’. Crispy, yes but I’m going to be controversial by saying that the best I’ve had to date were by the Young Turks @BurgerMonday, crispy from beef dripping but soft and fluffy on the inside!
Desserts: Dish 7: Brown bread ice cream (c.1830) with salted butter caramel yeast syrup, with textured sprinklings.
Dish 8: Chocolate wine (c.1710) with a Millionaire tart, strangely enough the strange descriptor sums it up, taking a red wine and pouring chocolate into it, the tart densely chocolately.
Dish 9: Tipsy cake (c.1810) like a billowy brioche concoction lovingly ladled in rum nestled with deliciously spit roasted pineapple; there were just enough hints of caramelised goodness. Spit photo courtesy of @theskinnybib (thank you).
Dish 10: A complimentary amuse-bouche with a ‘Happy Birthday’ iced note. This was a delectable White chocolate and Earl Grey ganache, with condensed milk sweetness, moped up with crunch caraway seeded biscuits. We were shown the English cheese board, but already full, politely declined and opted for a selection of teas. I now know that Henrietta Lovell (@raretealady) assists in their sourcing and the rose bud tea was especially fragrant and beautiful.
After our meal we couldn’t resist taking a peek around the restaurant and had the chance to thank Ashley Palmer-Watts (Executive Chef) for a wonderful meal and when the bill came along, I discovered also a complimentary meal and Champagne. This was very kind and a lovely Birthday gesture, I don’t know if it was the norm or because I had been tweeting Ashley (@APWChef), for months in advance of my visit regarding Dinner. Either way, I was grateful that my bill had been halved, I still wished to split the bill of my accompanying diner and after all we had shared everything!
The tour consisted of a look at the Chef’s Table and the Private Dining area which housed the Liquid Nitrogen ice-cream trolley, a treat solely for private dining initially, but perhaps to be rolled out when the second machine arrived.
Overall my experience was everything that I hoped for, great fun, delicious food and an experience. The service were extremely friendly, one might even say ‘bouncing’ with joy, perhaps first month keenness. Now I’ve had all the dishes I really wanted to try, I’m waiting for something new before I visit again, although if they did takeaways of the Meat Fruit, I’d be their No1 customer. Afternoon Tea was mooted for the Summer, however it seems due to their own success and scheduling of service, this now seems low on the radar. A shame I quite fancied Heston’s ‘Fishy Tea’ as seen on his C4 Feast series.
Be aware of: The ‘ouch’ effect of the bill, wine and dishes do add up (especially the POA ones)
If you’re lucky: You can sit in the outdoor terrace area, in the sunshine, with a view of Hyde Park
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