Most nights one of our Sage Appliances helps me put vaguely edible food on the table. I like to think that Heston (who helps design the range) is in my kitchen, helping make cooking a bit more of an experience than it really is. Though he does always seem to leave me with the washing up. So when we were invited out for lunch by Tim and Claire from Sage Appliances and were told we were going to an actual Heston restaurant our excitement levels went through the roof. Not least because finally Heston wouldn’t be leaving me with the washing up.
Dinner Restaurant was opened in 2010 within the Mandarin Oriental Hotel on Knightsbridge. Within a year it was awarded a coveted Michelin star and in 2014 it was awarded a second, which it retains today. The same year it appeared at number five in Restaurant magazine’s “The World’s 50 Best Restaurants”. The Executive Chef here is Ashley Palmer-Watts who used to be at the Fat Duck but now oversees this restaurant in Heston’s absence (he was in Australia for a number of months where he took the Fat Duck whilst the Bray premises were refurbed).
In the past, the main meal -dinner-was eaten at midday, before it got too dark. But affordable candles and, later, gaslight saw dinner shift. By the mid-1800s people were dining later. People working in the cities were taking a ‘lunch’ to work and having their main meal at 5.00pm when they got home, while in rural areas the main meal was still taken at midday.
Even today, depending where you are in the British Isles, ‘dinner’ might be served at lunchtime, suppertime or, indeed, dinnertime!
This made ‘Dinner’ the natural choice for its typically British quirky history and linguistic playfulness. If nothing else, I hope it’s easy to remember.
The attention to detail and incredible service start the minute you arrive at the reception desk. Coats and bags whisked off to a cloakroom as we were escorted to our table where numerous waiters were on hand to pull out chairs and pass us menus. The concept of the menu is explained to you and how Heston came up with the idea for the menu by trawling old recipe books and consulting experts at Hampton Court. And when I say incredible service I mean when I dropped my napkin it had barely hit the floor before another was brought to me, held between a fork and spoon and placed discretely in front of me.
It’s a simple menu. The three course set menu for £38 has just two options for each course to choose from but all sound amazing, and for the price it is a bargain quite frankly. The a la carte has more to chose from but is still doesn’t feel overpowering (there are ten main courses for instance, and three of those are steaks).
Look to pay around £70 a head (not including service or drinks).
But what did we have, I hear you ask? Well if you go you have to have the meat fruit. Popular in the 15th century (the menu tells you the origin of the recipe and when it was popular) it consists of chicken liver mousse shaped into a mandarin orange. It is what the restaurant is famous for and oh my word it didn’t disappoint:
I had the savoury porridge for my starter (popular 1660) and though not a fan of fish the cod cheeks on the top were amazing.
The true test of a restaurant for me is how they do their steak and chips. Anybody can cook them but how do you take them to the next level? Well in Heston’s case you make it a Hereford ribeye with mushroom ketchup and his infamous triple cooked chips. PS look at that bread behind it. That was phenomenal and I had to sit on my hands to make sure I didn’t eat all of it.
The other item on the menu that is well known is the 1810 Tipsy Cake with spit roasted pineapple. You are advised when you order that if this is the dessert you would like you need to order at the start of your meal as it takes a while to cook. I didn’t actually order this, I had the chocolate bar with ginger ice cream but boy I wish I had done.
Which then created a dilemma. In ordering our desserts from the menu at the start of our meal we were not aware that this amazing contraption existed. Not until we all put our forks down mid mouthful and stared at a nearby table as they were treated to ready made ice cream, right in front of them. So having polished off our desserts we then got stuck into ice cream, made with liquid nitrogen and freshly mad custard. Mine was dipped in apple popping candy, Mr B went for the freeze dried English raspberries.
The most incredible lunch I think we have ever had. The most incredible food, in the most beautiful surroundings. Looking out onto Hyde Park on a beautiful spring day, we really couldn’t have asked for more.
Unless it was seconds.