Category Archives: London

DINNER BY HESTON/London (UK)/2*/SPTOP50 N°5

IMG_7377_3I have to confess, I waited an awful long time to go to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. A chef, creating some of the most innovative dishes/dining experience revisiting some historic dishes dating back to the 16th Century…It felt awkward…I couldn’t help thinking about liquefied black pudding and stuffed colibri ice cream….no thanks… Also, the stratospheric rise of Dinner all the way to the 5th place in the 2014 San Pellegrino Ranking of the world’s best restaurants made me suspicious…

All changed when my friend Mark Hastings made a move from general manager at Hakassan’s HKK to Dinner. On one of my trips in late 2014, I decided to drop by and say hi as a welcome pause from shopping at Harrods with the Mrs. I was immediately won over… Mark gave me a tour of the beautiful dinning room, overlooking Hyde Park and of the huge kitchen with the number one eye catcher…the wood fire over which the pineapples for the epic Tipsy Cake were being roasted. On top of this, a few of my Belgian Foodie Friends and Chefs had been to Dinner during this period and they were all enthusiastic about their visit…

So, after a few long weeks of waiting, it was my turn to step into the kitchen of Dinner to take my place at the Chef’s table, next to the pass, for a dinner I would not soon forget! Indeed, only here can you have the tasting menu. Subject to seasonal changes, it is composed of eight delightful dishes. The rest of the restaurant is à la Carte…quite impressive at a 2* level…especially if you know that they serve several hundreds of customers a day here…Madness!!!

As the Executive Head Chef of Dinner, Ashley Palmer-Watts was working very hard with Heston on the other side of the globe for the opening of the Fat Duck Melbourne; one of the excellent sous-chefs was at the pass tonight, Allan Herrick. Allan took all the time we needed to explain every single dish and to answer all our questions. At the same time he mastered evening service in the most perfect way. A Buddhist temple could not have been quieter and calmer than this kitchen, except for Allan’s occasional announcements to his staff and their swift ‘Yes Chef’ replies. Service tonight was in the very competent hands of Andrew Lewis; he did a brilliant job at making us feel at home in this very special place in London.

Back to the food…here’s what we had tonight:

Hay Smoked Mackerel (c.1730)
Lemon salad, gentleman’s relish, wood sorrel & smoked roe
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An assortment of tasty raw vegetables (mainly salads), cold smoked (on hay) mackerel, gentleman’s relish (a delicious garlic and anchovy based sauce historically used as a preservation method)…the freshness and acidity of the veg worked really well with the fatty smoky fish and the relish lifted this dish to the next level… 18/20

 

 

Roast Scallops (c.1830)
Cucumber ketchup, roasted cucumber, bergamot & borage

IMG_7360_3Scottish hand dived scallop, roasted, with a zingy cucumber ketchup made of chardonnay vinegar, cucumber juice and pickled sjallots, roasted cucumber (vacpacked and finished on the plancha) and herbs. Again an outstanding dish bringing together very balanced flavours and textures. Pure delight. 19/20

 

 

Meat Fruit (c. 1500)
Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread

IMG_7369_3Truly legendary dish in itself makes a visit to Dinner worth your while… The most amazingly smooth, creamy chicken liver and foie gras parfait, covered in a triple dip layer of mandarin jelly, using freezing techniques to obtain an identical texture as the actual skin of a mandarin. Presented with a generous slice of toast, grilled in the Josper oven. It takes no less than three days to make a meat fruit…and in one week, Dinner serves out over a staggering one thousand meatfruits! Perfect. 20/20

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Frumenty (c.1390)
Grilled octopus, smoked sea broth, pickled dulse & lovage
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Next up was grilled octopus, cooked tender at 85°C for four hours, garlic butter coating and seared on the plancha. Served with loveage emulsion, a deep smokey sea broth, seaweeds and pickeled Buddha’s Hand. Great dish. 18/20

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Chicken cooked with Lettuces (c. 1670)
Grilled onion emulsion, spiced celeriac sauce & oyster leaves


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Succulent perfectly prepared juicy chicken, crisp wedges of chicken skin, lettuce, mayonnaise, oysterleave…aka Chicken Oyster….amazing flavours and textures, once again… 19/20

 

Beef Royal (c. 1720)
Slow-cooked short rib of beef, roast onion, calf’s tongue, red wine, anchovy &truffle

IMG_7409_3After all the very original, but high level dishes, we felt that this dish brought us back to reality… Of course, the 66 hours slow-cooked beef short rib, truffle, smoked carrots, mushroom ketchup and triple cooked fries were technically perfect and yes, if I had just this dish, I would have been very happy about it, but somehow, the magic, which was so well built up, seemed a bit lost here… 16/20

 

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Gingerbread Ice Cream (c.1600)
Salted caramel, mulled wine poached pear & smoked walnut

IMG_7414_3Very nicely presented winter dessert with the full flavours of lush ginger bread and mulled wine…and pear, but hey…I am to extatic about the next one that I will just keep it at this… 16/20

 

 

 

 

Tipsy Cake (c. 1810)
Spit roast pineapple

IMG_7420_3Simply EPIC dessert…you HAVE to eat this one at least once in your life!!!!!! Spit roast, syrup coated pineapple….gently roasted over a wood fire in a corner of the kitchen…served with a cocotte filled with the lightest, airiest brioche I ever had, sugar coated and with the most divine caramel at the bottom of the cocotte….wow, just wow…..THIS IS AMAZING….. 20/20

 

 

Nitro Ice Cream Trolley

IMG_7451_3A reference to the almost scientific approach of food at the Fat Duck in Bray with this last dessert…A Crème Anglaise is turned into ice cream using a specially designed tableside icemaker and liquid nitrogen… More of an attraction than a real culinary treat if you ask me…but then again, I was still floating on a wave of pure delight following the Tipsy Cake 😉 15/20

 

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CONCLUSION: OVERALL RATING

18,50/20

At 200 GBP a head, the tasting menu may seem to come at a steep price, but to me, this experience was worth every penny. Having the chance of tasting all these divine dishes, seeing them being prepared just feet away from where you are sitting, having access to the chef, getting all the explanations and the excellent spotless service made this to me one of the very best restaurant experiences I ever had. Of course, I would return any day in the main dining room because I am sure that the meatfruit, the tipsy cake and all the other dishes are equally delicious sitting here 😉

www.dinnerbyheston.com

Hedone, Chiswick (GB), 1*, 19/20, 06/11/2014

Last Thursday, we had the immense pleasure of returning to Hedone for our fourth visit of the year.

The consistency of the meals we had at Mikael Jonsson and Aurelie Jean Marie Flore’s this year has been amazing so after three meals at lunchtime we were back for our fourth visit, dinner this time.

With the aperitif we were served three appetizers: a beautifully balanced cherry meringue with a foie gras cream and thin slices of mushroom, a crisp cone filled with tuna and spices, packing all the typical ‘salade niçoise’ flavours and a sour dough crisp filled with Jerusalem artichoke cream topped off with some caviar. Mikael immediately had our undivided attention with these three heavenly creations (18/20).

Oyster, green apple and echalotte were the main ingredients for our first starter of the evening. The oyster was served poached, in the shell, resting on a foamy cream of apple and onion…nice dish, but could have done with a bit more saltiness and ‘seaflavour’ (16/20).

Second dish was one of the legendary Mikael Jonsson flans…. this time eggplant flavoured, topped with variations of cucumber (coulis, pickled, sorbet)…what a dish!!! This was very very good cooking and we were only just getting started! The depth of flavour in this dish was just wow…and then the subtle eggplant aroma, which worked very well with the fresh cucumber (18,5/20).

Now it was time for what will probably be part of my best starters 2014 overview: a delicate cylinder of sliced avocado, filled with apple and Dorset crab, topped of with an incredibly light, fragrant pistachio cream and finished off with a foamy curry emulsion…it doesn’t get better than this, really, a perfect dish (20/20).

Up next was a warm preparation of scallop, chestnut, Jerusalem artichoke….and a generous sprinkling of white Alba truffle…oh yeah…life can be good…what an evening, here in Chiswick….(17/20).

To follow this came a beautiful piece of wild turbot…again, with some well chosen additions…a creamy smoked potato puree, shavings of baby fennel and a black olive and olive oil sauce. To me, another perfect dish (20/20).

Even though I had the next one a few times this year, I simply cannot get enough of it…the delicious liquid parmigiano ravioli with horseradish foam. No words can describe the sensation you get when you bite into the perfectly cooked ravioli and your palate is flooded with the lush, delicately salty liquid parmigiano…Oh man…(20/20).

Five to six week Porc Noir de Bigord suckling pig came with superb Cévennes onions, quince puree and a thin slice of pear…what an ode to this kitchen style…less is more, a few first class ingredients make the day…The cracking of the crisp skin, the perfectly cooked pinkish pork, the onions….amazing (19/20).

Pickled carrots and baked and raw cèpes came with some beautiful deer for the gents, duck for one lady and monkfish for the other…a special thank you for the flexibility of chef Mikael here who wanted to accommodate all of us in the best possible way (19/20).

After a very nice cheese selection (18/20) we finished this glorious meal with two desserts. The first was a superb Raspberry/Hibiscus/Vinegar and Lemon Meringue creation which could be enjoyed this late in the year because of the mild Indian Summer we had (18/20) followed by the traditional Choc/Vanilla Ice Cream/Raspberry (16/20). We ended the evening with a chat with chef Mikael and some tasty mignardises.

We opted for the wine pairing, which is one of the best you can get, but do note that it comes with a price, 105 GBP, which could seem steep compared to the price of the Carte Blanche menu, 95 GBP. However, given the quality of the wines poured, you will not hear me complaining!

We had another great meal here and what a pleasure to see a restaurant performing so consistenly! Without the slightest doubt, I give Hedone a 19/20 rating.

No wonder that Andy Hayler (www.andyhayler.com) has come to this restaurant 52 times since it opened it’s doors just over two years ago now…this is as good as it gets…. without any distraction what so ever from what it’s really all about some of the best food and wine you’re ever going to enjoy.

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