As I mentioned in my London post, dinner at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal was one of the two pre-booked dinners we had in London. I tried to get us into The Fat Duck without luck. Their website crashed for 15 minutes as soon as bookings opened, and by the time it came back up, all the bookings were gone. It was also somewhat confusing as bookings open two months in advance by date – how does one book for 30 April when there is no equivalent date in February?
We arrived for dinner, and were quite surprised at how formal the service was. Given I’ve watched a lot of Heston on TV and would describe his shows quite simply as ‘fun’, I wasn’t quite expecting the level of formality we were greeted with by the staff. Not to say they weren’t nice or helpful, but there was a stuffiness and business-like attitude that we weren’t quite expecting.
As for the food, it was incredibly good. There is no option to do a degustation at Dinner; there’s simply three courses on the menu, and you have the option later to add a second dessert, Heston’s famous liquid nitrogen ice cream.
For entree I had the meat fruit while D had Earl Gray Tea cured salmon. The meat fruit was a foie gras and chicken liver parfait, encased in a mandarin jelly. I’m not an offal eater, so this was a bit of an unusual choice for me, but I’d seen Heston make the meat fruit on an episode of Heston’s Feasts and was keen to try it. It was butter smooth and soft and actually quite delicious. My only complaint is that it came with such a small piece of bread – there is quite a lot of parfait there!
The salmon came with a salad, and smoked roe. D says salmon and caviar are always a great combination, and this was no exception; smooth, light flesh with pops of salty tang. And some greens to round out the flavours.
For main I had the powdered duck breast with fennel while D had cod in cider. The duck also came with umbles, which they told me was heart, but I requested not to have it. The duck was, quite simply, the best cooked duck I’ve ever had. It was tender, flavoursome and not drowning in sauce, so you actually got to enjoy the duck flavour. The fennel it came with was nice enough, but I’m a fennel in small doses kind of person, so I didn’t really enjoy it as the only side. Thankfully we also ordered a serve of the mashed potato and fries. Warning: the mashed potato is really just butter, cream, more butter, more cream … and some potato. Maybe. Tip: if you order both the mashed potato and fries, try dipping the fries in the mashed potato for some delicious carb on carb goodness!
The cod was accompanied by chard and mussels for D’s second seafood-with-seafood combination of the night. He thought the sauce was a little heavy; the fish and mussels were cooked perfectly though, and this was a fantastic dish.
For dessert I had the tipsy cake, which I was instructed to order at the beginning because it takes 40 minutes to cook. It was a baked brioche that was incredibly light and fluffy and custard like on the bottom. It was served with the juiciest caramelised pineapple I’ve ever had. The pineapple is cooked slowly on a rotisserie that we could see from where we were sitting.
D had the Bohemian cake, and when his dessert arrived, I was reminded of the making of the Black Forest Gateau and the super-fun chocolate spray gun! Citrus and chocolate flavours, with honey ice-cream; light and tasty.
At this point in the night things got a little more fun with the wheeling out of the ice cream cart to our table. They made a vanilla bean ice cream that was as smooth as the meat fruit. In fact, the whole ice cream was the texture of the slightly melted ice cream you get on the edges of an ice-cream cone. We had the choice of a few toppings to get it coated in – I chose the apple pop rocks while D chose freeze dried raspberries.