Innovative chef Heston Blumenthal has come up with a mouthwatering menu of Gothic dishes now ready to taste in an atmospheric private dining room at Dinner at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London
Dinner's Executive Chef, Ashley Palmer-Watts
The two-Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal at Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, London has won public and critical acclaim for its brilliant and inventive cuisine, which has single-handedly championed recipes that beguiled British gourmands for centuries and were subsequently all but lost. In a restaurant inspired by such a rich history, it is only fitting that there should be a dining room celebrating the country's storied, and sometimes legendary, past.
With its opulent feel, emphasised by walls covered in dark-red leather, the new private space offers the perfect stage to enjoy these extraordinary dishes, served up by Executive Chef Ashley Palmer-Watts. You could be forgiven for thinking that you've walked onto the set of Game of Thrones, or perhaps stumbled into a royal palace. For this is a private dining room like no other.
Red walls and boar's head wall lights in the private dining room
The star of the show is the table, a breathtaking work of art that reflects and celebrates centuries of the finest craftsmanship. Its design was inspired by a replica of the King's Table, which was excavated at Westminster Hall and used, over the course of three centuries, by 17 monarchs, including King Henry V, King Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. Depicting legendary royalty in the form of King Arthur and his Knights, the table was a symbol of royal authority and the power of law: when the king or queen took possession of their kingdom and were acclaimed by the lords before their coronation in Westminster Abbey, it all happened around this table. Furthermore, it was used to serve them lavish coronation breakfasts and banquets.
Rice and Flesh
With seating space for up to 12 guests, Dinner's private dining table features a stunning radial design with veneers of rosewood and sapele (a wood similar to mahogany) and is topped off by a carved Tudor Rose centrepiece. Each of the uniquely designed chairs was inspired by carvings from the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Palace, the largest medieval timber roof in Northern Europe. Almost as memorable as the stately ingredients used in each of Dinner's historical dishes, the Gothic grotesques help to create the perfect backdrop when it comes to sampling these stunning interpretations. 'Rice and Flesh' is a simply jaw-dropping plate, not unlike a risotto Milanese, where saffron-infused rice is the bed for calf tail cooked in red wine. It's certainly impressive for a dish dating from c1390.
Arguably one of the most famous dishes anywhere in contemporary cuisine is 'Meat Fruit' from c1500: a sphere of chicken-liver parfait encased in a mandarin jelly, which manages to stay perfectly truthful to the appearance of the fruit – right down to the tiny dimples and green stalk. The dish represents historical plating of the most illusory and deceptive kind, and as Palmer-Watts explains: 'The origins of Meat Fruit came from manuscripts in the kitchen archives at Hampton Court Palace. They go right back to the Middle Ages, when meals were opportunities for the aristocracy and the very wealthy to demonstrate their status and power. There is evidence that they were served as far back as 1399, among other elaborate platters, at the meal celebrating the coronation of King Henry IV.'
You could easily imagine Henry IV feeling right at home in Dinner by Heston Blumenthal's new private dining room. Truly a setting fit for a king.