Stephen Lawrence - 2011-01-20
Heston Blumenthal, the three-Michelin-starred, chef and owner of the Fat Duck in leafy Bray has, for some years now, wowed diners and critics alike with his breathtaking gastronomic interpretations and reinventions. Now, finally, some would say, Blumenthal is bringing his fascinating and, at times, jaw dropping brand of culinary alchemy to the capital with the opening of his eagerly anticipated new restaurant, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, at the swish Mandarin Oriental Hotel.
Blumenthal’s unwavering approach has always been to pick up any rule book within reach and identify the ways in which he can bend, break and, in some cases, destroy gastronomic convention with his technical brilliance, imagination and invention. Using smell, texture and, in some cases, sound, Blumenthal’s forte is to both confound and delight in equal measure by playing mischievous, intricate games with our senses, perceptions, preconceptions and memory. With Blumenthal, there is only ever one rule that is never broken…Expect the unexpected!
Of course, with its three Michelin stars and countless other accolades, The Fat Duck is always going to be a tough act to follow. Like the Bray establishment, Dinner promises to wow diners with an explosion of contrasts that sees the old fused with the new and, in some instances, the ancient forged with the futuristic. Early signs are that the menu will mirror the chef’s capacity to breathe new life into traditional British recipes by reinterpreting them with the kind of culinary twists and turns that Blumenthal aficionados will love.
The menu will feature simple modern dishes inspired by Britain’s gastronomic past, some dating back to the 16th century, such as Scallops with Cucumber Ketchup and Peas, Bergamot cured Mackerel Salad and Slow Cooked Short Rib of Beef.
The Adam D. Tihany designed restaurant will echo the menu’s 16th Century historical British style references with a subtle, elegant interior that manages to be both contemporary and innovative, yet with a respect and understanding for tradition. Wood, leather and iron all figure prominently, each used in very modern ways to create a rustic but refined atmosphere.
Diners will also have the chance to enjoy some sweeping views across Hyde Park and floor to ceiling glass walls will offer a window into the open kitchen, the centrepiece of which is a contemporary stainless steel pulley system modelled on a 16th century design for the Royal British Court’s kitchens, with gears and cranks that resemble the craftsmanship of an oversized watch, mechanically rotating a spit over an open fire.
Seating 140 guests, the restaurant will serve lunch, dinner and afternoon tea. The kitchen team will be spearheaded by Ashley Palmer-Watts, a trusted Blumenthal colleague who worked alongside the chef at The Fat Duck for nine years as Group Executive Chef.
Private dining will be available for groups of up to 12 and, for that ultimate wow factor, a chef’s table located in the kitchen will seat 6. During the summer months, a terrace overlooking Hyde Park will provide guests with what is sure to become one of London’s finest and most sought after al fresco dining locations.