Leslie: Last spring, we celebrated Keith’s 30th birthday by having a meal at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The weather was unseasonably cold but it was nothing a colorful wool coat, shiny red shoes, and a sunny day couldn’t fix. Before lunch, we strolled around Hyde Park and watched the humongous swans on Serpentine Lake. Then we went to Harvey Nicks for a little dose of high fashion just like Eddy & Patsy from one of my favorite shows, Ab Fab! The building with the red brick below is the Mandarin Oriental Hotel where Heston’s restaurant is located. It overlooks the park. On the other side of the building across the street is Harvey Nichols.
Keith: The signature dish of Dinner is meat fruit, which I just had to have. It’s a chicken liver mousse covered in a textured jelly, creating the appearance of a small orange (including a stem and leaf sticking out the top). The only thing better than the presentation was the taste. It was honestly one of the best things I’ve ever eaten. The next time I’m in London, I *will* be eating this again. Leslie started with bone marrow and snails which was also delicious. Our mains were both very well done, but probably also they were the low point in the meal in that they weren’t as inventive as the starters. I ordered the Ribeye because it came with the famous triple cooked chips. The chips were excellent (as was the mushroom ketchup) but the steak was just a steak and, actually, not as good a ribeye as we buy from Oak Del Farms in Wisconsin. Leslie’s pigeon was also very nice, but as I’ve said, just not as exciting as the starters.
Leslie: I’m a sucker for snails. Snails and marrow, that’s even better. The presentation of my starter was just gorgeous. A bone, split down the middle. Atop the marrow were the snails as well as some micro-greens. On the side was a salad of French breakfast radishes and endives. The pigeon meat was very delicate in texture, served medium rare, with a hint of star anise and a rich ale sauce. I imagined Heston with a little gun, hunting pigeons at the park, just for me.
Keith: Going into the meal, I didn’t even plan on getting dessert. But in the end we caved in, and I am so glad we did. I ordered the quaking pudding, Leslie got the tipsy cake, and we shared. The quaking pudding was like a pear flan, and I was surprised at how much I liked it (given that I don’t like flan and generally don’t like fruit based desserts). But the tipsy cake… that turned out to be the best dessert I’ve ever eaten. It was a brioche, soaked in cream and rum, which a crunchy top, and served with roast pineapple. Generally, if it isn’t chocolate, it isn’t dessert to me. And I’m not usually a fan of alcoholic desserts. And, as already mentioned, fruit and I don’t get along. The stars were perfectly aligned for me to dislike this dish. But it was so good. So good. Rich, light, sweet, acidic, crunchy, soft.
Leslie: The tipsy cake was incredible. We had to order it at the beginning of the meal because the preparation took longer than the other desserts. It was so good, I almost didn’t want to share it with Keith. Before the bill came (possibly to soften the blow), they brought out some chocolate mousse infused with earl grey tea along with a caraway biscuit.
Keith: Between the meat fruit and the tipsy cake, this meal included two of the most perfectly executed, well balanced, and memorable dishes of my life. I can’t wait to go back.
Meat Fruit (c.1500)
Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread
Roast Marrowbone (c.1720)
Snails, parsley, anchovy, mace & pickled vegetables
Hereford Ribeye (c.1830)
Mushroom ketchup, triple cooked chips, & green beans with shallots
Spiced Pigeon (c.1780)
Ale & artichokes
Quaking Pudding (c.1660)
Pear, perry, caramel & lime
Tipsy Cake (c.1810)
With Spit roast pineapple