We were recently taken to Heston Blumenthal's restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge, Dinner. Fancy! It was a hugely absorbitant treat which had long been brewing. The babysitter was booked, the outfits pressed, and off we went with my in-laws, on a Friday jolly. We had all perused the menu online, pondered our orderings, done a little research and generally psyched ourselves up. Restaurants in hotels can be a bit odd in my opinion, a bit airless and lacking in character (but always done up to the nines by an interior designer). However, on arrival we were pleasantly surprised. Reflecting the concept, dimming the wall-lights were massive milky shades based on old jelly moulds - very Mrs Beeton. Simple and effective.
The pure pleasure of being really well treated it noteable here. The waiters are perfectly attentive and explain everything, including the rotisserie roasting pineapples groaning and turning on heavy-duty iron machinery. It looks more like something you might loose a limb to in the industrial revolution. The very visible kitchen is like as beehive, full of activity and calm and order. Very very ordered.
To start, I had a simply served roast marrow with snails and anchovies. The accompanying pickles were so lightly preserved they still had a fantastic fresh crunch and life, and the cauliflower was cured with a little turmeric, a perfect twist to the tale. Served on an alabaster piece of bone it was simple and effective. The other main event in the starters was of course the meat fruit for which Dinner is famous: a pate encased in a mandarin gelatin case. It was so believable you could easily have slung the single fruit into the christmas centre-piece! And once bust open, the most delicate and slightly boozy parfait emerges. This dish is full of theatre but backed up with flavour.
Once I have recovered my waistline (and the in-laws bank balance) I would love a return to Dinner. It was everything we wanted it to be: the perfect balance of theatre, excellence and luxury.