Heston Blumenthal gives a gastronomic history lesson that is easy to swallow
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal opened in London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel in 2011 but it was conceived back in the late 90s thanks to chef Heston Blumenthal’s fascination with the gastronomy of the past and a desire to bring it to present-day diners.
So, together with right hand man Ashley Palmer-Watts, Heston decided to create a restaurant that straddled culinary history, with one foot planted firmly in the past and the other very much in the present.
Eight years on and very little has changed in its approach. The restaurant’s now iconic meat-fruit starter of a chicken liver parfait made to look like a mandarin (based on a recipe from the 13th century) has remained untouched, and its classic dishes such as rice and flesh – made with almond, saffron, veal sweetbreads and smoked eel (dating back to 1390); and salamagundy – chicken oysters, salsify, marrowbone, horseradish cream and pickled walnuts (1720) have been tweaked and refined.
Another iconic dish, the incredibly indulgent tipsy cake served with spit roast pineapple, is also thankfully the same as it was when the restaurant opened.
For many people this sticking to a rigid menu might seem old fashioned (although that’s kind of the point here) but with Dinner Heston and Palmer-Watts are very much in the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ camp. Here, dishes have stood the test of time for a reason, and the menu is varied enough to make it more than a one-off occasion.