Dinner, or, to give it its full name – ‘Dinner by Heston’ – is Mr Blumenthal’s historical-themed restaurant. Though it isn’t exactly clear what involvement Heston actually has: Ashley Palmer-Watts, who worked previously at the Fat Duck and seems to be the head chef is much mentioned on the website which only says that he ‘developed the dishes with Heston’. So more Dinner by Palmer-Watts. I guess this is like ‘presented by Guillermo del Toro’ in terms of foreign horror fantasy films…
“So far, so vague”
So where exactly is history involved? Well, the menu gives every dish a year date, for one thing. Plus, on the back a reference to a contemporary cookbook. It plays a game with diners, with some dishes mysteriously named “Meat Fruit” or “Tipsy Cake” clearly intending to intrigue. Others spell out their constituent parts, but I’m more convinced by the historical heritage of those dishes which have a name, rather than just a list of ingredients. This is what I decide to ask when the waiter inquires if we have any questions: what exactly are these dates and cookery books? What’s their connection? The answer: the dishes are ‘inspired by’ those recipes, and updated with modern ingredients and techniques. So far, so vague.
We’re here to eat the Meat Fruit, which, from external research sounds like a magical dish featuring pâté with a mandarin jelly glaze, formed into the shape of a mandarin and with a (sadly inedible) stalk on top. When it arrives, the dish actually surpasses my expectations, with a perfect little clementine-alike on a board with toasted sourdough. The pâté is perfectly creamy and light, with only a hint of over-richness that you can happily expect. It has a depth of flavour the complete opposite of the frequently pungent, smack-you-in-the-face offaly flavour that you often get with liver terrines and which I frankly hate. The mandarin is like a coating of chutney, biting through the oaky taste of the meat and giving a tart balance to it. It doesn’t have a greasy consistency at all, but is clear and translucent, and so thin a layer we can’t quite understand how – or believe they did – cover the filling so perfectly.
They even bring a second round of toast for us to finish off the fruit. I’m in heaven.