Meat Fruit at Dinner


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.

Bone marrow and parsley salad at St John


St John was pretty empty when we were there, which was odd, since it’s usually crammed. But perhaps it was the fact that, for a nose-to-tail restaurant (some would say the nose-to-tail restaurant), there was remarkable little nose or tail on the current menu.

Buttered toast will never taste quite the same again!

I decide to brave the ox heart, after being reassured by the waiter that it wasn’t too ‘offally’, having been marinated in balsamic vinegar and then cut into very thin slices before cooking, rendering it a steak-like quality (he wasn’t wrong).

But before the ox heart I got the joy of the famous bone-marrow, which I’d assumed came in a parsley salad, given the name on the menu. Instead, it’s really bone-marrow-on-toast with a parsley garnish (which, no doubt, could be corrected by pausing in the right place when reading the menu).

Rather unappetisingly, when I suggested it was basically toast-with-dripping (which I confess I’ve never actually ordered) Chris declared that ‘but marrow is all cells and stuff’. I’m pretty sure all food is ‘cells and stuff’, but I took his point: there’s a bit more going on than just a butter-substitute (in the opposite direction to Olivio!)

It’s really bone-marrow-on-toast with a parsley garnish

That there’s a bit more going on is also evident in the eating. Your mouth is greeted by a complex flavour, outrageously velvety, but meaty, smoky and utterly indulgent. The richness (but not the grease!) is offset by a sprinkling of course sea salt, which cuts through the creaminess. The parsley definitely adds something, and something more than just a hint of healthy afterthought. It’s a fresh flavour, but more importantly a herby complement, and its absence would certainly be missed.

A salad this is not – but buttered toast will never taste quite the same again!

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