Meat Fruit at Dinner

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Dinner, or, to give it its full name – ‘Dinner by Heston’ – is Mr Blumenthal’s historical-themed restaurant. Though it isn’t exactly clear what involvement Heston actually has: Ashley Palmer-Watts, who worked previously at the Fat Duck and seems to be the head chef is much mentioned on the website which only says that he ‘developed the dishes with Heston’. So more Dinner by Palmer-Watts. I guess this is like ‘presented by Guillermo del Toro’ in terms of foreign horror fantasy films…

“So far, so vague”

So where exactly is history involved? Well, the menu gives every dish a year date, for one thing. Plus, on the back a reference to a contemporary cookbook. It plays a game with diners, with some dishes mysteriously named “Meat Fruit” or “Tipsy Cake” clearly intending to intrigue. Others spell out their constituent parts, but I’m more convinced by the historical heritage of those dishes which have a name, rather than just a list of ingredients. This is what I decide to ask when the waiter inquires if we have any questions: what exactly are these dates and cookery books? What’s their connection? The answer: the dishes are ‘inspired by’ those recipes, and updated with modern ingredients and techniques. So far, so vague.

We’re here to eat the Meat Fruit, which, from external research sounds like a magical dish featuring pâté with a mandarin jelly glaze, formed into the shape of a mandarin and with a (sadly inedible) stalk on top. When it arrives, the dish actually surpasses my expectations, with a perfect little clementine-alike on a board with toasted sourdough. The pâté is perfectly creamy and light, with only a hint of over-richness that you can happily expect. It has a depth of flavour the complete opposite of the frequently pungent, smack-you-in-the-face offaly flavour that you often get with liver terrines and which I frankly hate. The mandarin is like a coating of chutney, biting through the oaky taste of the meat and giving a tart balance to it. It doesn’t have a greasy consistency at all, but is clear and translucent, and so thin a layer we can’t quite understand how – or believe they did – cover the filling so perfectly.

They even bring a second round of toast for us to finish off the fruit. I’m in heaven.

Charcuterie at Terroirs

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When we planned to have a spot of charcuterie at Terroirs ahead of a wiener schnitzel at The Delauney, I’d rather envisaged Rachael and I having a glass of wine and nibbling on a spot of cured meats as a perfect starter. I happened to bump into Paul, a good friend who runs my writers’ group, who had a glass of wine, but didn’t stay to help us eat. Which was a pity, not just to lose his company, but also because Terroirs don’t do things by halves – not by a long shot.

“Veritable plank-loads of meat”

With Time Out’s failure to specify exactly what we should be eating, we ordered a selection of charcuterie (including the selection of charcuterie!), and were brought veritable plank-loads of meat.

Everything we ordered was delicious, particularly the pork and pistachio terrine, and I also particular enjoyed the duck rillettes. These dishes could easily have been a meal in themselves, and a perfectly pleasant evening could be spent sipping nice wine and picking at seemingly bottomless plates of salami and paté, as clearly many of our fellow diners were doing.

“Terroirs don’t do things by halves”

Something about it didn’t come together, however, and I didn’t find myself feeling like I’d eaten a full meal, even though I was pretty full. Perhaps this is unfair, given we’re supposed to be reviewing dishes, not full meals. Even so, Time Out itself admits that there’s better charcuterie to be had in London, which rather invites the question of why they didn’t include those in the top 100 list. Maybe they wanted to include Terroirs for its (genuinely) comfortable ambiance and deft cooking in general, but again, the list is supposed to be identifying great dishes, not restaurants.

Enjoyable, tasty, but ultimately left me a little cold and unsatisfied.

Smoked Mackerel Paté

Okay, so it’s cheating to use a recipe from the Guardian’s ‘Hot to cook…’ series, since they’ve already scientifically identified the perfect ingredients and method (!), but in this case there’s a slight tweak, as who can buy fresh horseradish in the UK? Even Waitrose staff insist ‘it’s the same as red radish’. Ahem. I should go to an ethnic food store, who will no doubt have loads of the stuff. But in this case, I substitute horseradish sauce.

Smoked Mackerel Paté
 
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Spread on bread, lettuce, dip at a picnic, etc.. Delicious!
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 3 hot smoked mackerel fillets
  • 150g cream cheese
  • 100g crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp horseradish sauce
  • Lemon, to serve
  • Handful of dill, chopped
  • Black pepper, to taste
Instructions
  1. Skin mackerel fillets and flake 2 of them into the mixer.
  2. Blend with the cream cheese, crème fraîche and horseradish sauce until homogeneous.
  3. Flake rest of fish, and mix in along with the dill and black pepper.
  4. Serve with lemon wedges.