Lo and behold, San Pellegrino Top 50’s Number 5 in 2014 – Dinner. This is the highest ranked San Pel restaurant I’ve visited so far, and it’s great to finally sample Heston’s/Ashley’s cooking. All I knew about this place was that it was vastly different from The Fat Duck, and was a modernised version of food consumed in the 1300s – medieval brought back to life! They had beautiful menus set up, with bits of trivia to read while perusing the menus. We were also lucky enough to be seated right in front of the kitchen, so we had a great view of flames and ovens and a total head count of about 15 chefs in that small space. It’s a fairly large restaurant from what I could see, and it blended into a bar in the Mandarin Oriental.
Meat Fruit; mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread
First, their signaure dish: meat fruit. Mandarin looking on the outside, delicious smooth pate on the inside. What great flavour! No wonder people love this so much – I could keep eating this forever. Lucky for me my pate craving phase was already over so I didn’t have to order three of these.
Roast Marrowbone; snails, parsley, anchovy, mace & pickled vegetables
Snails that actually taste good! I’ve never objected to eating snails before but I admit they’ve always been underwhelming, and always the same old flavour of garlic butter. These, however, were very tasty and soft. This has raised my expectations of how snails should taste.
Roast Sea Bass; mussel & seaweed ketchup, salmon roe & sea rosemary
And some triple cooked chips in the background. It was actually the owner of the cafe I frequent that recommended Dinner over Fat Duck, and he mentioned that when he visited this place, he hadn’t had the opportunity to order the chips because the potatoes apparently weren’t perfect, so I took the chance to ask for them. Turns out the chips they have as a side dish aren’t triple cooked, but they could make these ones for us. So crispy on the outside and soft on the inside! I have a preference for waxy potatoes rather than floury, so these were pretty tasty. Now the sea bass. It was cooked so nicely! So tender and just cooked, and I loved the native greens on there. I noticed samphire in the dish too, and was very happy to eat this wonderful plant.
My brother had the roast Iberico pork chop, which was also super delicious! As the sun set, it was more difficult to take pictures so the only picture left is:
Baked Sussex Pond Pudding; lemon caramel & goats milk ice cream
I chose this for the lemon, and the goat milk ice cream. Plus for some reason I couldn’t get the word “Pond” out of my head in reference to Doctor Who. I was tossing up between this and Chocolate Bar, but the waiter recommended this one as he came from Sussex and his mum used to make it, so it was a favourite of his. I wasn’t disappointed! When it was presented, I was advised to be careful when cracking the pudding because it was a hard pastry with a soft inside. So with some delicate tapping, there was a reward of gooeyness!
My brother chose the tipsy cake, and while he liked the pineapple, it was the brioche that was absolutely superb! One thing to note is that you have to choose this at the beginning due to the time it takes to make. What’s really cool is that you can see the grilled pineapples glistening and dripping goodness from one of the kitchen windows.
I had booked it for our second day in London, in hopes that our appetites were good enough (having recovered from jetlag) to be able to eat a lot, though next time I’d probably book a restaurant of this calibre more into the middle of our trip, as I think we could have chosen even more food. The waiters were all really lovely and even started describing the Jasper oven after I asked about it because it looked like a cool piece of machinery. Turns out it’s a temperature controllable oven/grill/smoker thing if I recall, and now I want one too!
This was also the first high-end restaurant I’ve had in a while that was a la carte rather than degustation, so we ended up with two entrees, two mains, two sides and two desserts between the two of us. I would have liked to omit the side dishes and have one more entree – but that’s for the next time!
I’ve always hoped that I was relatively unbiased with my food preferences, so in terms of whether or not this was the best restaurant I’ve visited, I still prefer Vue de Monde. I really can’t explain why but it was just so much more epic, though I also have a feeling it’s because it was a place that I had the least expectations of, so there were more surprises.
Either way, Dinner is certainly worth visiting and has some great food and excellent service! And an amazing view of the kitchen.