For my 21st birthday, my sister kindly treated me to a three course meal at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, a restaurant awarded with two Michelin stars. It's located at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in Hyde Park, London (the nearest tube station is Knightsbridge). I've heard a lot of good things about Heston Blumenthal and his restaurants. Since my sister had eaten at The Fat Duck before, we decided to try Dinner by Heston Blumenthal instead. Fine dining isn't my cup of tea because I find the atmosphere usually stifling and uncomfortable. Oddly enough, the website states that the dress code is 'comfortable'. This confused me when I was getting ready because I didn't know whether that meant casual or semi-formal, and whether I could wear jeans and a t-shirt. I did end up wearing jeans and a t-shirt, but with a tweed blazer and ballet flats to smarten up the outfit. The fact that I wore black jeans instead of blue jeans helped polish up the outfit too. At the time of our meal, the apparel of the other diners ranged from casual (polo t-shirts and sneakers) to formal (suits and dresses). I'd recommend dressing in a semi-formal manner just to be safe.

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Bread basket

Despite being fifteen minutes late for our reservation, the staff were relaxed about it. We did get a phone call to remind us of our reservation, but our table was still kept for us until we got there. I read on Trip Advisor that some people managed to walk in and get tables without prior reservations. However, I would book a table in advance to avoid any disappointment. The meal started off with a complimentary bread basket (or bread board?). The bread had very hard and crunchy crusts, and a soft centre. I ended up not eating much from the bread basket because I disliked the texture of the bread, which is a shame because bread and butter normally make for a glorious combination.

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Starter: Meat Fruit (£17.50)

One of their most popular dishes is the Meat Fruit, which we both opted for our starters. The focus of the dish is obviously the 'mandarin orange'. It's actually chicken liver and foie gras parfait encased in an orange gelatinous skin. The parfait was smooth, rich and creamy with a hint of orange flavour. It was packed full of flavour and a little bit went a long way, so we needed more than one piece of bread each to finish our respective mandarin oranges, which were generously provided. We should have shared a portion rather than having a portion each, as the richness of the parfait got a bit much after a while. In my opinion, the thing that brought down the dish was the choice of bread: I assume it was the same type of bread as the one from the bread basket, but grilled which made it even harder and crunchier, and there was no soft centre at all. It was probably intended to contrast with the silky soft texture of the parfait, but it ended up being difficult to bite into due to the hardness and made a mess due to the crunchiness.

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Main: Powdered Duck Breast (£34)

This was my main and I was pleased with my choice. The duck meat was cooked 'medium' so it was pink and tender, but not bloody which went well with the slightly crispy skin and smoky sweet sauce. The umbles were delicious and their chewy texture was a nice contrast to the softer texture of the duck. The fennel was a good choice of vegetable as it neither overpowered nor underpowered the duck. It was slightly charred at the edges but had the perfect degree of softness everywhere else. It was exactly how I like my cooked vegetables: soft and non-crunchy, but not mushy.

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Main: Roast Turbot (£38)

This was my sister's main and in her words, it was "meh". I know small portions generally come with the fine dining territory, but this dish felt insubstantial and unsatisfying. The sauce was a sublime combination of salty (from the mussel and seaweed ketchup) and sweet (from the salmon roe). However, the fish and vegetables were just average. I think it paled in comparison to the duck because it was not as flavourful or had a 'wow factor'. It was not memorable at all and didn't justify its high price.

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Dessert: Tipsy Cake (£14)

The Tipsy Cake is another one of their most popular dishes and with good reason too. We shared a portion between the two of us, but we could have happily devoured a portion each because it was that good. At the start of our meal, the server informed us that the Tipsy Cake would take 40 minutes to prepare. It was a good thing he did because if not, we would have had to wait for a long time after our mains for dessert to arrive. So, if you want to try it, order it at the start of your meal to avoid waiting. I think it's called the Tipsy Cake because the sauce is a mixture of alcohol, vanilla and spices. The sauce will be cooked until most of the alcohol is broken down to its sugars, but you can still taste remnants of alcohol. The 'cake' bit, which tasted more like bread than cake, was crusty at the top and soggy at the bottom from having soaked up the sauce. Its airy light texture enabled the cake to perfectly absorb the sweetness of the sauce and the tartness of the spit roast pineapple.

Overall, bar the bread and the fish, it was a lovely meal. Service was courteous, if a bit slow. I like that the server explained each dish at the time it was served. The interior was bright, spacious and elegant. It wasn't overly posh or stuffy. Would I go back again? Definitely, but only for special occasions like birthdays and anniversaries.


  1. You have an amazing sister. Looks like she treated you well.

  2. Happy Birthday and your sister is so sweet!