The chicken disguised as a mandarin

Isn’t it good to almost always have an excuse to go for a special dinner? This one now we had out planned for more than two months because it is just that hard to get a reservation… The second restaurant in Heston Blumenthal’s collection has only one Michelin star to boast compared to the well-known Fat Duck but is listed number 7 in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal welcomed us in the Mandarin Oriental on Monday night. The airy and bright simple interior was the perfect setting on such a hot day (especially after my office’s A/C gave up and died halfway into the day leaving us to bake in the heat). We were off to a good start.

I must say the menu wasn’t simple but those things rarely are in Michelin starred restaurants. But wrapped around it were individual small drops of knowledge related to food. That’s the sort of thing I like.

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I chose the Meat Fruit as a starter.

Meat Fruit (c.1500)Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread
£16.00

Ingenious indeed, the chicken liver mousse appeared disguised in the shape of a mandarin orange next to a piece of toast. “Everything is edible, apart from the green leaf,” the waiter added. As I found out later, one of the signature dishes and most talked about plates from this restaurant, it wasn’t only visually entertaining but absolutely delicious as well.

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2013-07-22 19.12.48That was followed by the cod in cider.

Cod in Cider (c.1940)Chard & fired mussels
£27.00

Again, absolutely nothing to say against a magnificent dish. I was suspicious about having mussels around my fish but every single one of them with quite strong flavour was a delight. The fish had a very mild but juicy taste to it.

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Now comes the dessert… Or, the dessertS? We just couldn’t resist the tempting offer of the liquid nitrogen ice cream.

First things first though: my dessert was a chocolate cake.

Bohemian Cake (c.1890)Chocolate, citrus & London summertime honey ice cream
£10.50

2013-07-22 19.55.59While the fruits within the chocolate weren’t really my thing, the honey ice cream melted perfectly on my tongue leaving a refreshing taste.

Now to the highlight of the evening: the liquid nitrogen ice cream made right there at a table like a mini magic show.

2013-07-22 20.08.32While this won’t have the same effect the second time around, it’s definitely something to enjoy and get entertained by the first time. We surely were!

After all this positive talk, would I make this my favourite restaurant in London then? The answer is sadly a clear no. Why comes probably mostly down to the service. The food didn’t necessarily change my world view but it did a pretty decent job which was disappointingly not reflected by the service. Firm and good, but lacking that extra edge I’d expect from a place light that. Like possibly more description into the food or better answers to our question.

An example maybe? My friend was interested in the brown bread ice cream but as it came with malted yeast syrup and we were unsure what that was (both non-native English speakers), we enquired. The conversation went as follows:

Us: “What’s the malted yeast syrup like?”

Waitress: “It’s a syrup. On the dessert.”

Us: “Ok, but what is it like? What does it taste like?”

Waitress: “Like… malted yeast.”

Us: “Is that like marmite?”

Waitress: “No.”

Us: “So… What is it like then? Is it bitter?”

Waitress: “No, it’s sweet.”

You can think I’m picky but at this price, I just expect a bit more than being regurgitated the words on the menu.

In any case, if you do decide to go, try the Meat Fruit and spend that extra few £ to marvel at the ice cream magic!

Price: £££££

Food: *****

Service: ***

Decor: ****

Square Meal

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