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Heston Blumenthal – the chef who makes you nervous

Updated on May 10, 2014
mandarin oriental hotel knightsbridge - here you'll find  Heston Blumenthals restaurant Dinner
mandarin oriental hotel knightsbridge - here you'll find Heston Blumenthals restaurant Dinner | Source

Hyde Park, Knightsbridge is a most prestigious address, so naturally this is where you’ll find London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

For good measure the luxurious department stores, Harrods and Harvey Nichols beckon across the road - and Hyde Park flanks the rear. That’s just the exterior.

Inside, the hotel encompasses luxurious guest rooms, a world class spa and the pièce de résistance two stylish restaurants: Bar Boulud, London - the London venture of New York star Daniel Boulud - and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

Heston Blumenthal works his magic -
Heston Blumenthal works his magic - | Source

Heston Blumenthal is the English chef and owner of The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire which holds three Michelin stars and has been voted the best restaurant in the world and four times the best in Britain.

Dinner (Manderin Oriental) is his second, stylish, innovative restaurant. I am dining at Dinner.

I can’t help feeling a little edgy. I’m concerned about my palate – could it perhaps be considered unsophisticated? In all probability comes the obvious answer.

Innovative Food

Chef Blumenthal is not without a sense of humour. I’ve seen film footage of his celebrity guest diners doing outrageous things. Like licking entrée off the wallpaper and declaring it sumptuous.

And having seen TV footage of a dish named Meat Fruit being consumed is a concern.

I’m not sure I’d be as brave as feminist author Germaine Greer tucking into a delectable looking plum which wasn’t fruit at all but contained parts of a bull I consider inedible. I admire her stance. In Germaine’s opinion – it tasted gorgeous.

Some of Chef Blumenthal’s dishes can be termed confronting - bacon and egg ice cream, snail porridge, parsnip cereal, mock turtle soup, which combines a ‘multi-sensory’ experience.

To clarify multi sensory, the theory is that audio enhances the eating experience – order a Sound of the Sea dish and to accompany the meal you’ll experience the sounds of seagulls, waves, a ships horn, laughter from children. Eating involves the senses, we eat with our eyes, ears and noses.

Sounds of the Sea dish - comes with audio -
Sounds of the Sea dish - comes with audio - | Source

Dining at Dinner

Yes, I’m certainly nervous. But that night at Dinner I quickly discovered my concern was ill founded. Everything about this place is civilised.

The restaurant is spacious, light and airy, staff are welcoming and the open-plan kitchen displays all the hustle and bustle of food preparation.

The view of Hyde Park on a summer evening is perfect, adding another memorable touch.

And the menu arrives. One glimpse and I’m delighted. I’m a true advocate of traditional food. All these dishes are as time-honoured as possible.

Each dish appears on the menu with a date and a reference to the cookbook from where it was sourced. (Savoury porridge:1661- The Whole Body of Cookery Dissected by William Rablisha.)

Spit roast quail (1591 A Boke of Cookrye by AW)

Salamugundy – (1723 – The Cook’s and Confectioner’s dictionary by John Nutt)

A mandarin? No. It's meat fruit by Heston Blumenthal..
A mandarin? No. It's meat fruit by Heston Blumenthal.. | Source

The Choices

I am not a food connosiure, nor a brilliant cook although I love to experiment with dishes in my own way. This does not make me the food critic I’d like to be.

Suddenly, I’m tossing up what to choose. The Meat Fruit now seems inviting, no mention of emasculated bulls. It’s a Mandarin - chicken liver parfait, grilled bread.

Eventually, I choose Broth of Lamb (c1730 ) – slow cooked hen’s egg, celery, radish, turnip and sweetbreads.

Such a simple sounding dish but I’m not disappointed. As I slice into the egg it oozes into the consommé providing a taste of overwhelming intensity. The sweetbreads are crisp and light.

Sirloin of Black Angus (c1830) with mushroom ketchup, red wine juice this was deliciously tender and oozing with flavor. Triple cooked fries are to die for.

Himself tucks into Roast Marrowbone- parsley, anchovy and mace, pickled vegetables. He pronounces it delicious, clearly he’d also devour the bone if he could. I’m relieved he doesn’t.

His main course was spiced pigeon, ale and artichoke, of 1780 heritage. It’s clearly pleasing and I am suddenly aware our home cooking will have to change.

We finish with exquisite baked lemon pudding, (1630) filled with caramel and Jersey cream which can only be described as perfect. Tipsy cake, (1810) features a cinnamon cream brioche with spit-roasted pineapple.

Sheer bliss. I refuse to even think of calories.

We also didn’t need to think about wine selection – the sommelier suggested excellent wine to complement each course.

The Verdict

I’m transported back to my childhood where flavour ruled. I frequently complain that nothing today, tastes as sweet, as fresh, as tart, as aromatic as it once did. Chef Blumenthal – I’m totally hooked.

Much of the day to day cooking at Dinner is done by head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts who adheres to the guidelines laid down by Blumenthal’s fixation with culinary history. The menu changes periodically.

A bird's eye view of the Mandarin Oriental London - Hyde Park in the background.
A bird's eye view of the Mandarin Oriental London - Hyde Park in the background. | Source

The Mandarin Oriental

As for the hotel, the Mandarin Oriental combines style, elegance and history with royal connections. Traditionally, it boasts the only private royal entrance from Hyde Park. However, guests can still participate through special permission from the Royal Parks.

Here, in the hotel’s gilded ballroom Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth ll and the late Princess Margaret first learned to dance. Prince Charles and Princess Anne visited the tea rooms as children.

Whatever is on the agenda – a stay in this hotel has much to offer.

Heston Today

The up to date news from Chef Blumenthal is a coup for my home town of Melbourne.

In 2015 Heston will close his iconic three Michelin star restaurant the Fat Duck and for six months relocate it to Crown in Melbourne.

Heston will fly his staff from the Fat Duck to work in Melbourne.

Quite simply - I can’t wait. Bring on the Meat Fruit. I’m ready.

mandarin oriental hotel knightsbridge london:
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7LA, UK

get directions

Ten Food Quotes

“The only real stumbling block is fear of failure. In cooking you've got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”
Julia Child

“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
Mark Twain

One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
Virginia Woolf, A Room of One's Own

“After a good dinner one can forgive anybody, even one's own relations.”
Oscar Wilde, A Woman of No Importance

You can't just eat good food. You've got to talk about it too. And you've got to talk about it to somebody who understands that kind of food.”
Kurt Vonnegut, Jailbird

“As I ate the oysters with their strong taste of the sea and their faint metallic taste that the cold white wine washed away, leaving only the sea taste and the succulent texture, and as I drank their cold liquid from each shell and washed it down with the crisp taste of the wine, I lost the empty feeling and began to be happy and to make plans.”
Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

“No one who cooks, cooks alone. Even at her most solitary, a cook in the kitchen is surrounded by generations of cooks past, the advice and menus of cooks present, the wisdom of cookbook writers.”

“I hate people who are not serious about meals. It is so shallow of them.”
Oscar Wilde, The Importance of Being Earnest

“He was a bold man that first ate an oyster.”
Jonathan Swift

“It's so beautifully arranged on the plate - you know someone's fingers have been all over it.”
Julia Child

“Watch a French housewife as she makes her way slowly along the loaded stalls… searching for the peak of ripeness and flavor… What you are seeing is a true artist at work, patiently assembling all the materials of her craft, just as the painter squeezes oil colors onto his palette ready to create a masterpiece.”
Keith Floyd‎‎‎


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    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from australia

      Thank you Suzette - thank you, I'm sure you'll hear more of Heston, he really makes his mark. He's so different. I'm pleased you enjoyed this visit to the Mandarin Oriental - Yes, definitely a treat! Best wishes...

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      3 years ago from Taos, NM

      I haven't heard of this chef before so its a good thing I read this hub. This was so charming and enchanting. I loved reading every line of this. If I am in London again, I will certainly check out the hotel and restaurant. Your dinner sounded delicious and your description of it was great. What a wonderful time you had there. And, what fun you will have when he and his staff come to Melbourne. What a treat!

    • RealHousewife profile image

      Kelly Umphenour 

      4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      Greer said it tasted 'gorgeous'? That's great!

      Triple cooked fries? Really? Wow!

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      ignugent - really pleased you found the hotel and restaurant to your liking, maybe you'll get there one day. Thanks for being here, appreciate your comments.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I am not sure if I cannot visit this magnificent place and eat in the restaurant that you described. I am very grateful for sharing your experiences and all the details.

      Have a wonderful day!

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      BNadyn - Thanks for the comment and vote - Chef Blumenthal is a most dedicated and controversial chef. I love the way the food is presented and hope you get to sample some one day. . Thanks again...

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      Hi Nell - I was interested in his recipes too and love the way they are sourced from the past. It will be interesting to see what Heston has on offer in Melbourne when he comes to Crown. Best regards...

    • BNadyn profile image


      4 years ago from Jacksonville, Florida

      Enjoyed this, voted up... and you peaked my interest with the chef's cooking. I'd love to try eating here someday, sounds like a tasty experience. Nice description of the food. :)

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 

      4 years ago from England

      Hi, How interesting! I have often wondered what his recipes were like, as at one stage he was going to buy the Chequers in my town, but the foundations were a bit dodgy! lol! Sounds like you had a fabulous time, nell

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      Hi Michele - yes, I followed the Little Chef - Big Chef turn around. He's one busy chef and so enthusiastic. What energy!

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      Vellur, yes, Chef Blumenthal is very controversial scientific with food. The meat fruit is an amazing dish sourced from a recipe c 1500. Thanks for your comments....

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      Kay - great to hear from you. Love the enthusiasm - certainly hope you find a way to visit the Fat Duck when it opens in Melbourne. Nice to splurge now and then. Best wishes and thanks...

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      I followed how he turned the Little Chef restaurant around. He's a frightening man indeed, but truly knows what he's doing. Awesome!

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      Hi Flourish, thank you so much for comment and vote. I guess I'd read and seen so much of the unusual food produced by Heston so I didn't know what to expect. It was such a lovely gastronomical experience, I'm totally hooked.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      truthfornow - thanks for joining me. Food wise it was an awesome experience.

      The meat fruit looks like a mandarin but is chicken liver parfait and grilled bread. It's sourced from a recipe from c1500.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      to business - it certainly was an experience at Dinner. If you go for your birthday I'm sure you won't regret it. Happy birthday for June.

    • Vellur profile image

      Nithya Venkat 

      4 years ago from Dubai

      He seems to be a great chef and very experimental with names of dishes and how it is made!! A great review. Did you like the Meat Fruit? Great review enjoyed reading.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      Kawika - Lovely to have your comments, good to know you found it interesting, Possibly, like myself, you'd soon feel relaxed and comfortable at this lovely hotel and restaurant. It has so much charm. Thanks again.

    • profile image

      Kay Readdy 

      4 years ago

      Very informative. I want to go there - NOW! And love the Oscar Wilde comment about even being able to forgive relations after a good meal. Can't wait to try out the alternative to The Fat Duck at Crown in Melbourne.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      A truly different (and very well written) hub! I enjoyed this immensely, although you are clearly much more adventurous than I. Let's say I am living vicariously through you, at least gastronomically. Great hub! Voted up +++.

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      Jodah, Yes, I consider myself most fortunate to have dined at Dinner. And yes, Heston and his scientific research into food is amazing. I've seen most of his Tv shows too. The series from Liverpool hospital (children) was interesting as my niece is a nurse there. At Christmas we had our fill of Heston christmas cake and mince pies from IGA. Now the Fat Duck in Melbourne. Wonder what's next? Thanks again...

    • travmaj profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from australia

      Hi Vickyw – pleased to note you are a huge fan of Heston. I appreciate your comments. My post was a review of a visit to his Dinner restaurant not a profile of the man himself. That may follow. Hope you manage a trip to Melbourne when the Fat Duck opens here. Or, if you happen visit London, check out the set lunchtime menu at Dinner. Very good value although bookings are necessary.

    • truthfornow profile image


      4 years ago from New Orleans, LA

      The Mandarin Oriental is a gorgeous building. Amazing. Sounds like very fancy food. I would be intimated as well. Never heard of Meat Fruit. Very interesting read. I felt like I was there with you.

    • tobusiness profile image

      Jo Alexis-Hagues 

      4 years ago from Lincolnshire, U.K

      It's good to remain open to new experiences, Heston's nothing, if not controversial, but he does get good reviews. We may try out The Mandarin Oriental for my sixtieth birthday bash in June.

      great article, up and awesome.

    • KawikaChann profile image

      Kawika Chann 

      4 years ago from Northwest, Hawaii, Anykine place

      Nicely done, I feel your uneasiness. I feel out of place when eating out anywhere that lays out 3 forks... Nicely done. Upvoted/interesting/follow. Peace. Kawi.

    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 

      4 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Heston is an amazing chef and food scientist who does so much research and experimentation to produce a dish. I watched his tv shows in amazement at some of the meals he produced. He has reinvented cinema, hospital and airline foods. Wow, transferring his entire Fat Duck staff to Melbourne temporarily! Lucky you, dining in one of his restaurants. I'd love to. Voted up.

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      Oh, I am such a fan of this incredible man! He approaches food with science and a completely open mind. It must be amazing to actually taste his food - are you independently wealthy, perchance?! Come to think of it, I will put that on my bucket list! ( the wealthy part would be nice too!) I love Melbourne, so that would be a good excuse to visit! Great Hub, but honestly, you've only just scratched the surface of this scientific chef!


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