It’s apparently the ninth best restaurant in the world right now. And we ate there on Thursday night. Dinner by Heston is seemingly the result of Heston Blumenthal’s research for all his TV shows in the last last ten years; a restaurant dedicated to recreating British dishes from yesteryear. No 21st century food here, not even 20th century; the age of the dishes ranges from 1390 to 1890. Which, at first glance seems to be at odds with Heston’s usual modus operandi of grinning like a madman as he uses liquid nitrogen and gellan to make a liquorice enveloped salmon. But if you’ve ate at The Fat Duck, glanced through his cookbooks, or caught him on Channel 4 in the past few years, you’ll know that this has been an interest, or perhaps an obsession, of his for some time now (and you’ll be able to buy the book at Christmas time, of course).
Dinner, then, isn’t the Fat Duck slimmed-down and shoved into a fancy London restaurant. Well, apart from the triple-cooked chips. And the ice-cream trolley which can come along to your table and make instant ice-cream using liquid nitrogen (though even here, the mixer on the trolley is hand-cranked to give it a semi-vintage feeling). Oh, and a £70,000 clockwork spit-roasting contraption in the kitchen that’s Alton Brown’s nemesis: it only exists to make the roasted pineapple for the Tipsy Cake dessert.
(to which I say hurrah, as I find Brown’s uni-tasker crusade to be intensely puritanical and mis-guided)
Okay, so that’s the pitch, but how was it? You can take a look at the menu to see what’s on offer. Stacie got the marrowbone as a starter, whereas I took a long hard look at the menu and realised there was something in every dish that I wouldn’t eat. I’m a picky eater, although picky in odd and annoying ways. Anyway, I’m told that the marrowbone was great. For the main course, I had the fillet, while Stacie got the spiced pigeon. And…well, it was a hunk of meat on a plate. A great hunk of meat with amazing beef gravy and triple-cooked chips, mind you.
But, this is me, so the important thing was always going to be pudding. As a lover of pineapple upside-down cake, Stacie was always going to order the Tipsy Cake, but I went for the brown bread ice-cream (what I didn’t realise until after was that choosing this meant that my entire meal came from 1830). This was served on an olive oil shortbread and drizzled with salted caramel. And was amazing. I seriously don’t think I’ve ever had an ice-cream that was that smooth and so perfect.
And then Heston walked by. Admittedly, he did have Jeremy Clarkson in tow, but it was a wonderful cap to the night. Does it deserve to be almost ten places above Alinea in that latest listing of restaurants? I…think not, but it’s not quite aiming for the same thing (and only about the third of the price!). Plus, you know, you can book on OpenTable rather than having to fight the insanity of Chicago’s reservation system.