Another big one of the list. Heston’s Bray restaurant’s are definitely on my list, but let’s start off with a London one. The Dinner restuarant connected to hotel, like quite a few of the top starred restaurants, this hotel being the Oriental Mandarin near Hyde Park. I wonder if the hotel connection means the chef (or his company) has less investment with the hotel taking a higher risk?
I actually started the experience over the road, at Harvey Nicholls, managing to grab a bar stool for a little glass of house champagne. The plave was full of pre-Christmas shoppers, with shopping bag to person ratio pretty high.
In the hotel, I had to ask to find the restaurant, as it’s not well signposted (it’s straight up the 2nd step of steps and then to your left). The welcome was good and I was led through to my table with a view of the park or a window into the kitchen. I was given my choice of view, I chose the park.
Dinner does not have an ever changing menu, depending on what is available, but has a pretty fixed choice that, looking at reviews, seems to rarely change. I’d spent some time thinking about what I was going to eat and decided that I was just going to go with the top recommended food, the signature dishes for starter and dessert. So first up was the Meat Fruit – a liver parfait in a mandarin jelly skin, with toast.
I’ve read that they get through so many of these that there is a form of assembly line to prepare them, so there could be a chance that care gets reduced. I have no idea if that was the case, it tasted great. Rich and smooth with the orange providing the citrus cut through. I was disappointed with the bread though. The menu said toast but it seemed to have been fried, there was a fair bit of fat on it. For me, the rich pate with the oily toast was too much, it went far better with the plain bread.
I went for the Iberica Pork chop next, with smoked cabbage, confit onion, apple, mead and Robert Sauce (i had to look this up – onion, butter, wine, pepper and mustard). The pork was cooked perfectly and the sauces were just right for me. I’m happy the sauce was not too mustardy, it’s never one of my favourites, it needs to be subtle (why do pre-made ham sandwiches almost always have mustard on them?). The smoked cabbage was the best surprise, loved it, especially how it worked with the grilled pork, bringing out the charred flavour.
Finally, the tipsy cake. Pre-ordered at the start, this was just as everyone else says. Lovely pineapple and a bready doughy pudding that swam in the creamy sauce. I could have done with another one!
My closed the meal with some port and the ‘free’ course, chocolate ganache (or was it mousse) with a carraway biscuit. I’d been surprised there were no upfront additional courses, but the extra dessert was worth not having that.
Service throughout was excellent. I was addressed by name and the guy in charge of the section came by to chat a fair bit, talking about the restaurant, running, other restaurants and a quick guide to sauce making – my view of the kitchen was right in front of the sauce man with about 20 little saucepans all being managed. When I slipped out, via the bathroom, he even chased my out to say goodbye and check if I had enjoyed it! I never felt that my eating alone was unwelcome, which I have had in other places.
Excellent experience, not as expensive as I expected, mainly because I only had 2 glasses of wine and I’d recommend for special occasions.