Saturday 22 June 2019

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

A few months ago, one of my friends who lives in Melbourne posted a photo to Instagram of her lunch experience at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, and as soon as I saw it (and asked her about her experience there), I jumped on their website and made a booking, knowing that we would be in Melbourne for a week in June.

I made a booking for 12:30pm, and after wandering through the labyrinth of the Crown Casino for about 15 minutes trying to find the restaurant, we finally arrived at the third floor just in time for our booking. After walking down a long dark corridor, we were a bit confused as to how to enter the restaurant, and just as we thought we'd come to the wrong place, an automatic sliding door opened and we were instantly welcomed by a friendly waitress who asked where we were travelling from and whether it was our first time at Dinner by Heston.

After being shown to our seats, we were brought the menu options. A different friendly waiter (who asked us all about Tasmania for a few minutes) explained the menu to us - we could choose either to partake in their five course degustation, or choose the three course al a carte option. As we were meeting friends for dinner that evening, we thought it was probably wisest to go with the three course option (which ended up being quite a few more in the end). We both chose the hay smoked kingfish with pickled lemon salad, gentleman's relish, wood sorrel and smoked roe as our entrees, followed by the Black Angus rib eye with mushroom ketchup and triple-cooked chips as our mains. We also decided to try a couple of sides with them - the roasted carrots and caraway, and the broccolini and pickled lemon.

After flipping through the extensive wine list (and having a helpful sommelier guide us through it), we decided on a bottle of red wine to accompany our meal. We were brought some beautiful fresh sourdough bread with salted butter as a starter, before our kingfish entrees arrived. The thing that stood out the most to me were the incredible flavours from the lemon salad and gentleman's relish (I'm not too sure what makes it gentleman's relish, but whatever it was, it made it very delicious), balanced with the more subtle kingfish flavours.

The Black Angus rib eye was beautifully tender, and paired with the mushroom ketchup (which retained its dark brown colour without the usual red artificial colouring), and an almost chimichurri-like salsa, the flavours balanced each other beautifully. We were also very pleased with our selection of the roasted carrots and brocollini, both of which were cooked excellently, as well as the crispy triple-cooked chips on the side.

For dessert, I was intrigued by the ice cream with Vegemite dish with toasted barley cream, yeast caramel, macadamia, puffed spelt and sourdough crumble, while Dave chose the lamington cake with raspberry and lemon verbena, coconut cake and chocolate cream. When my dessert arrived, our waiter drizzled a Vegemite sauce over the ice cream (contained in a Dinner by Heston labelled jar), which added an (unsurprisingly) salty element to the otherwise sweet chocolate and caramel dessert. The flavours in the lamington cake were balanced well with the tart raspberry and lemon complementing the sweet coconut and chocolate flavours. We also enjoyed some dessert wine alongside our delicious desserts.

As we were enjoying our dessert, we noticed an ice cream trolley being wheeled around to various tables in the restaurant, and as we were very intrigued by this, we asked our waiter about it. He explained that it was a lemon and cream ice cream that is churned in front of you with liquid nitrogen, served in a cone with your choice of two toppings. We couldn't resist this option (when at Heston Blumenthal's restaurant, right?), so a few minutes later, the trolley appeared in front of us and a lovely waiter gave a bit of a back story to the ice cream and the person who developed this method. After each choosing a couple of toppings, we enjoyed the tangy yet creamy ice cream as the final touch to our experience at Dinner by Heston (well, before the final final touch of mini chocolate and caramel tarts with edible gold on top that came with the bill, perhaps to lessen the blow a bit).

If you are in Melbourne and are looking for a special experience, I would definitely recommend making a booking at Dinner by Heston. While it doesn't appear to be quite as elaborate and experimental as Heston's restaurant in London (The Fat Duck), it is certainly worth heading along to Australia's version of this restaurant for an unforgettable dining experience.

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