Last weekend, my sister and my cousin took me to Dinner at Heston Blumenthal’s for my birthday, and it was dead dead dead good
and I started to write this review with an angle. First, that we were the scousest people that had ever ended up at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge; that this was tight and surreal. I thought I could go with food-is-better-than-art and, rushed and excited, write about how I enjoy restaurants more than exhibitions, Chef’s Table more than artist talks. (I actually honestly do). And how could I not talk about the TV chef provenance, the private rooms and clientele - I noticed everybody was sitting up straight in their chairs. And, god, wharabout the size of the bill?
but Dinner was about dinner, and we liked it for its essentialism. Mash, carrots, salmon, duck, cod, bread, ice cream (I had brown bread ice cream for dessert, shaped like a tear over caramel in a circle of tiny pear and bread cubes). We each had Meat Fruit to start - chicken liver parfait inside a thin and soft mandarin mask, served beside grilled bread. The food was inconspicuous, strong, calm, convincing. Abi and David had bone in rib of Hereford prime (steak and chips) with mushroom ketchup and gravy. My turbot came with mussel & seaweed ketchup. The mains were not meat with veg, the side dishes were present in their own right. It was all just good - but there is something I have been trying to articulate, without TV-chef-glamourising the experience. You know the Willy Wonka gum, with a flavour that shifts through a menu? Something similar was happening. The food started on the plate, but there was a movement that happened inside your mouth, like the food changed meaning, like it was rolling and making a decision. It really wasn’t silly either, it was earnest and warm like slow delight. And I’ve known this flavour thing to happen before, but it has never held me so long or been as complex and involved. Like, my cousin tasted the cocktail I chose (Snow Queen vodka, cinnamon syrup, Amer Picon housemate grenadine, fresh apple juice and lemon) and he described it like ‘really good shampoo.’ It felt real and normal.
At the end of the meal, they brought us earl grey and orange blossom ganache with a caraway shortbread. God, I was so happy. I wanted to fall asleep at the table and be carried to bed - because I think there is tact and give and care in the menu; because the service is perfect; because the entire experience made me feel so comfortable and happy that I didn’t want to write about money or class, or justify there being a food review on The White Pube. No angle. I love food, this food was so good, and I am blessed to have such good people to take me to special places, to take me to Dinner and I hope you do too <3