It’s not every week you get to have eggs Benedict and coffee with a three star Michelin chef before 9am on a Monday morning, but that’s exactly what happened this week when Stylist attended an exclusive preview of Heston Blumenthal’s new restaurant, Dinner. Opening on 31 January at the five star Mandarin Oriental Hotel in London, Dinner will be Heston’s only venture outside of Oxfordshire, where his flagship restaurant the Fat Duck, presides majestically over the gastronomic landscape.
There’s been quite a buzz about Dinner since the press releases first went out nearly a year ago now. Heston has so far been quite happy to focus his attention on ‘the Duck’ (as he affectionately calls it) and the Hinds Head down the road, in between his weird and wonderful stints on Channel 4 and that now famous Waitrose Christmas pudding. Now he’s branching out, and the foodie world sits poised. Will he do the impossible and surpass his own success? We have a sneaking suspicion he might just…
Famous for creating 12 course tasting menus which you need iPods and headphones (as well as a serious love of liquid nitrogen) to appreciate, Dinner will be side-step away from the molecular gastronomy which made Blumenthal’s name. The ‘theme’ this time (a word he’s not entirely comfortable with), is history. Working with food historians at the British Library and his head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts, Dinner has dishes (listed by date) from the 14th Century right up to the 1940s. Come 31 January, dinners can feast on ‘rice and flesh’, a starter from the 1300’s or ‘meat fruit’, an adaptation of a dish served at Hampton Court which is simply spit-roasted chicken liver parfait with a savoury glaze, made to look like fruit (in this case, Mandarins). Other highlights include scallops with cucumber ketchup and the wonderfully named ‘taffety tart’, made with apples, rose petals and fennel.
The prices and the atmosphere will also be a big departure from the Fat Duck. “It’s going to be a refined brasserie, all leather and wood with a big open kitchen, I want it to be noisy,” said Heston. The more relaxed feel will also be reflected in the price, with a three course set lunch for £25 and an à la carte dinner for £55.
Chatting to Heston, we got the impression that a lot hangs on the next few months. “I’m nervous but incredibly excited” he said, whilst giving us a crash course in food history. “My plan is to go back to Bray [where he lives and where the Fat Duck is] but I’ll be at dinner for the first month and then flitting between the two. I know I’ll get swept up in it though, it will be hard to step away from.”
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal will open on 31 January at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, dinnerbyheston.com