Summary: Highly Recommended / Special Occasion
Because the food is exquisitely near perfect, decor is fabulous, and service is exceptional, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental for a special occasion. A bit pricey (£30 – £40 for a main; £15 – £20 for a starter) and thus less of a value than somewhere like Avenue or Vivat Bachhus, it still is a much better experience for the money than Galvin La Chapelle. And you will only spend a bit less around the corner at Buddha Bar, an overpriced, overly trendy, good but not great food, disappointment.
I would be more than happy to go to “Dinner” again, with friends or colleagues, and especially to celebrate a special occasion or a visitor from the States. You will love it, I’m certain. Let me know what you think!
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
London, SW1X 7LA
Above photo from restaurant website.
Starters included this amazing Meat Fruit dish, a gastronomic pleasure that looked like an orange but was a chicken liver & foie gras parfait wrapped in a mandarin cream. It tasted as good as it looked.
I had the Rice and Flesh, a saffron rissotto style rice with calf tail and red wine. Our mains were fantastic, starting with my spiced pigeon which paired perfectly with my sommolier recommended 2010 Buio Buio Isola Shiraz. The pigeon, and I will admit I do not often do the rat bird thing, was so well prepaered I didnt even think about Trafalgar Square’s missing flocks once! Tender, juicy, goodness. Two friends had steak, one the ribeye and the other the fillet. Both looked, smelled and tasted exquisite. I tried the Herefore Ribeye and then stole another bite. May come back for that one night. The light eater amongst us had a rather standard cheese tray but shame on him for doing that at this place. (He had a dinner party just before our celebration meal, unfortunately)
Sides were perfect, including wonderfully prepared, clearly unhealthy, triple cooked chips along with buttered carrots, and finally green beans with shallots. To end the meal, we had coffees and the Tipsy Cake with spit roast pineapple, which was orgasmic. Not one person dining with me was less than blown away by the food from start to finish.
My favorite part of the decor is the fact that the entire kitchen is visible through huge all the way to ceiling windows. Throughout our meal, we watched large pineapples slowly roasting on a spit and a well disciplined kitchen team working their magic. It was actually strange after a while, watching them completely ignore us. I almost thought it was a two-way mirror like in police stations. (too much television).
The colors of the walls and furniture, the unique lighting, and the general ambiance of the restaurant (warm, inviting, comfortable) made this a fantastic place to dine. (As an aside, this was a complete change from the absolute rubbish Mandarin Oriental Bar just outside, which was like a Marriott Courtyard lobby bar. Shamefully boring and shockingly plain in its decor, given this is a Mandarin Oriental.)
Our primary server was Jonas and he was fantastic. But from entering the restaurant, service was perfect. Wine glasses promptly filled, food served on point and well coordinated, and food described exceptionally well. Jonas was patient as my partner kept discussing whether Amber came from the whale’s arse (waste) or his regurgitation. Long story there but clearly the remainder of our party of four had zero interest in this story, though apparently Dinner uses some Ambergris in cooking to add flavour. Ambergris is also an aphrodisiac so not sure if that adds more credence to one side of the debate or not …but I digress. (If interested in finding the conclusion of the debate, click here.)
Service was not pretentious and the staff seemed genuinely interested in our enjoyment of the meal and overall dining experience.
Clearly, we did not go to this place with a pretense that we would be getting a cheap meal so I compare its value to a group of restaurants in London with similar options, decor, and reputation, if not with a Michelin star as Dinner received in 2012. A bit pricey (£30 – £40 for a main; £15 – £20 for a starter) and thus less of a value than somewhere like Avenue or Vivat Bachhus, it still is a much better experience for the money than Galvin La Chapelle. And you will only spend a bit less around the corner at Buddha Bar, an overpriced, overly trendy, good but not great food, disappointment.
For those of you in Chicago, I would compare Dinner at Heston Blumenthal to Naha, Takashi, or Sepia more than Everest, Graham Elliott, or Les Nomades. Great food for moderately high prices that one can splurge on occasionally as opposed to ridiculously high priced indulgence that makes you feel guilty for not donating more to your favorite charity immediately after dinner.
Our meal for 4, had one of our friends not eaten beforehand, would have been roughly £400 including service and VAT. That’s steep given we only had 1 bottle of wine with the meal and that it excluded cocktails before dinner at the crappy Mandarin Oriental Bar. Mains were well prepared and presented, but I think you pay for the labour to put together such a presentation. Same food, of course, would be cheaper at most other restaurants. But, for a special occasion, I would suggest this place over Galvin La Chapelle without hesitation.
Because the food is exquisitely near perfect, decor is fabulous, and service is exceptional, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental for a special occasion. It’s pricier than some but not all fine dining spots in London, so the only ding it got from me is in Value (4 out of 5). That said, I would be more than happy to go to “Dinner” again, with friends or colleagues, and especially to celebrate a special occasion. You will love it, I’m certain.
In relationship with #foodies,
Adam L. Stanley | ALSWharton Connections
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