Powered by Jasper Roberts - Blog

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Enlightened Traveler: This is London

The first in a series of reports over the next few weeks
on what's new and noteworthy in London.

Just when you thought that you had to drop everything and head straight for Dubai, Shanghai, or Berlin – or risk compromising your "I've been everywhere cool and you haven't" status – along comes no-nonsense London with a few surprises of its own.

Not to be outdone by upstarts, the British capitol is on the ascendant. Or should we say, London continues to rise, perennially reinventing itself in ways that underscore its rank as one of the planet's favored destinations.

The hottest table in town for some time to come is Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. Opened a fortnight ago, it is the latest conceit from the brilliant, experimental chef who brought modern British cooking to the forefront at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant, The Fat Duck.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal's dining room

This time around Blumenthal has dipped into Britain's culinary past for inspiration. He reportedly spent 18 months researching recipes that go as far back as the 1300s. Of course, he doesn't just recreate them for modern diners. What fun would that be? He has reworked them into a menu of "perplexing unfamiliarity," one that is a "startlingly original read," according to one newspaper critic.

Meat Fruit

Meat fruit


His signature Meat Fruit (c. 1500) consists of chicken livers whipped into a mousse, formed into the shape of an orange, and covered with mandarin jelly. There's also the quaintly named Rice and Flesh (c.1390) which rests braised calf tail on a bed of saffron rice, and Ragoo of Pigs Ears (c.1750) with anchovies, onions and parsley.

And those are just the starters!

The main courses sound tame by comparison. Sirloin of Black Angus (c.1830) comes with mushroom ketchup, red wine juice and triple cooked chips. There's also a Spiced Pigeon (c.1780) with ale and artichokes, Cod in Cider (c. 1940), and Beef Royal (c.1720). This last is a short rib of angus cooked for 72 hours sous vide, the vacuum sealed water submersion method Blumenthal pioneered. (Intensifies the flavors but diminishes the texture, according to those who know a thing or two about food.)

At least some of London's food critics have worked themselves into an unabashed frenzy of adulation.

"If there has been a more flawless and exhilarating restaurant opening in the past decade, I missed it," gushed Matthew Norman in The Telegraph.

Others are offering a more restrained view. The Daily Mail labeled Blumenthal’s "interpretation" of traditional British food "a brilliant and original concept," then opined, "Yet eating at his new restaurant remains an interesting experience, rather than a delicious one."

Time Out's Guy Dimond was only moderately impressed. The restaurant is just "another smart, five-star-hotel restaurant, not the culinary equivalent of the Second Coming." Apparently he didn't ask the patrons who have to wait until June to get in or the guy who already has auctioned off his booking on eBay.

You'll find Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge. The airy dining room overlooks Hyde Park. Service is professional and friendly, not stuffy.

Finally, it's not cheap. Although by London standards it's not exactly exorbitant either. Check how your stocks are doing to see where you stand on the issue. Or go for the set lunch at a reasonable £28 – if you can get a reservation.

Want to know more? Here are a few recent reviews and articles from British publications: The Telegraph, The Independent, The Daily Mail.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is at 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA, tel. +44 (0)20 7201 3833, www.dinnerbyheston.com.

Click here to read our other articles on London.


No comments :

Post a Comment