Chef: Heston Blumenthal
Spoiler alert…Oh the disappointment!
This restaurant has been on the must-visit list for a while. It is certainly one of the most famous restaurants in the capital, even the non-foodies know of this one and with three Michelin stars it certainly should be one of the best in the country.
The restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park; a lovely setting with great views over the park. The restaurant decor is pleasant with high ceilings and do I like the modern glass wine cellar and the floor to ceiling glass walls allow a good view of the kitchen.
The concept of the restaurant is a exploration of gastronomic history so the menus are inspired by dishes from throughout time. We visited Dinner for lunch. The midday meal is what my grandparents called dinner so I think it isn’t as much of a misnomer as it seems.
Bread was served. Presumably a long lost old English recipe but to our mind the word would be stale. I, a long way from an expert baker, have made sour-dough bread without a pinch of modern or added yeast and a fresh loaf is always delicious so why this wasn’t I find difficult to understand.
No amuse bouche appeared so on to the starter. This seemed the perfect opportunity to try something new so we both chose the pigs ears. The presentation was uninspiring (a ragu mixture on toast) and whilst the taste was interesting the texture was unpleasantly gelatinous. Fair enough, maybe that is what pigs ears are like but although we both like trying new dishes it is rare for neither of us to finish a dish and this went half-eaten on both sides of the table.
The mains were an improvement. I chose fish and my companion chose chicken. Both dishes were good (I purposely use an unimaginative word here because that is really all they were). We enjoyed both dishes but they were a long way from exceptional.
I do like the little snippets of history that the menu includes and the concept of the restaurant is certainly an interesting one. I appreciate that these dishes are taken from history and so are a little unusual and maybe not the same as the cuisine we usually eat but to my mind the whole point was that, yes they are old recipes but the chef would use his experience to take those antiquated dishes and made them something exceptional and delicious.
This restaurant as a long string of accolades and I struggle to understand why. Maybe we were there on an off day? (I suggest off-days are not possible in 3 Starred Michelin restaurants). Maybe the hype of this restaurant blinded the critics? Or maybe it just isn’t for us? Whatever it was, I don’t want to return.
Unfortunately the prosaic words used throughout my review sum our meal up. If you like visiting the ‘best’ restaurants then this is of course a must try but if you just want one exceptional meal, say for a special occasion, this would not be on my list of recommendations.