Review: Dinner, Knightsbridge

We came to Dinner for dinner. It would be strange to have lunch at Dinner, and indeed the dark

and urbane dining room doesn’t really strike me as a daytime venue. So muted is the lighting that at first I thought every other diner was wearing black, white or grey in obedience to an unwritten dress code that we hadn’t been told about. This is a good atmosphere, though, classy yet convivial, with the arresting use of big white jelly moulds as lampshades to remind us that we’re in the hands of a playful chef. Behind the plate glass that reveals the busy team of young chefs there are a dozen whole pineapples turning on a spit before a crackling fire. This whimsical centrepiece is excusable as chunks of the pineapple are used in one of the desserts. And in the same way these crummy photos are excused by the moody lighting!

Let’s get down to business. And the business is dinner. Starter, main and pud. None of your fancy amuses bouche or pre-dessert, just three courses and all of them a proper size. This is clearly part of the theme; the whole menu is inspired by dishes found in cookbooks dating back from Victorian to medieval times, resulting in menu items like

“meat fruit” and “rice and flesh”. Three courses, decent portions, also all very traditional.

My starter was a lamb broth, poured over a dice of veg, slow-cooked hen’s yolk and three pieces of breaded sweetbread. These unfortunately were too small for the sweetbread to overcome the fried breadcrumb coating, but the broth was strong and clear-as-a-bell. “Rice and flesh” turns out to be a punchy saffron risotto with fragments of calf tail cooked until gooey in red wine. Snails lined up on marrow taste deeply delicious. “Meat fruit” looks like a mandarin but is chicken

parfait wrapped in a mandarin jelly, a brilliant caprice which is also a great flavour pairing.

Next course, and Dinner turns out to be well named, because the mains are the strongest courses. And really, it is so seldom I find myself saying so that it’s worth pointing out. Pork chop, duck breast, pigeon breast, steak, I think that right around the table we all muttered phrases like “must be the best ever…” or “can’t remember the last time…” between greedy mouthfuls. For me, my pork chop was the clearest connection between Dinner and the Fat Duck. These restaurants are worlds apart in style and substance, but they share in

spades Heston’s alchemical ability to condense and concentrate the very essence of a flavour into itself. This was without doubt the porkiest pork chop I have ever enjoyed.

Desserts were good, but we had definitely peaked with the mains. I chose rhubarb, which I always do when it’s in season, and then I always wonder why because fine dining rhubarb desserts consistently fail to excite me. Dammit. Around the table there was a great lemon suet pudding, a hefty sticky cake cooked in boozy sauce and a layered chocolate tablet that was pure elegance.

Service was spot on, with all of the friendly waiters keenly knowledgeable about the provenance and creation of the dishes without appearing schooled or forced. The sommelier was helpful

and we enjoyed a great American cabernet franc with stickies to follow. The wine list is long, but the vast majority of the wines run to 3 or 4 digits. With the exception of a house wine there’s nothing under fifty. Accordingly, our celebratory meal at Dinner was about £120 per head all-in.

Dinner is a million miles from The Fat Duck. Someone posed the question: of the two, which would you come back to? We all agreed that it would be Dinner. The Fat Duck is “once in a lifetime”, and that’s both a good thing and a bad thing. It truly is dinner-theatre, and even with the best plays I seldom want to see the same production twice. Dinner is just a really great restaurant. Hardly cheap, but with Heston’s marvellous attention to flavour running through every dish it’s well worth it.

1 ping

  1. Review of the Historical Dining Room, a Bristol restaurant

    […] hog in decor, service and menu to cast you back into the past. In that it trumps Heston’s Dinner, which showcases historical food but is otherwise stylishly modern. So yeah, that’s my […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>