The leaves were lazily detaching themselves from the branches, queasy about their decision to move to a lower level of existence. People were jogging casually as I sat there, behind the glass window, in the pleasant warmth of the restaurant. To make things slightly more abstract, a trained eagle landed on the hedge and strolled around for a while, ribbons at his tiny eagle claws.
The taste of food has always been my top priority when it comes to judging a restaurant. I mean, obviously that is the main duty of a restaurant: to provide me with food. I always fully disapprove of restaurant that offer “experiences”, basically highly over-priced food simply because they give you a small show or they make it in a really strange environment. I do, however, believe that a restaurant, once it reaches a certain culinary stage, needs to think about the mood and service as well. That is what will differentiate a great restaurant from an amazing restaurant. There are no complaints on those aspects here; set inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Dinner has an incredibly elegant feel to it, and the outside view of Hyde Park makes it a wonderful place to contemplate. The ammount of natural light available makes the place very easy to the eye. The staff is also incredibly welcoming and pleasant.
However, the true test was the taste one. The restaurant had a lot to live up to: 2 Michelin Stars and the 7th position in San Pellegrino’s Top 50 Restaurants in the World. We went with the Lunch Menus (£38), selecting for starters the Ragoo of Pig Ears and the Lemon Salad. They were indeed very tasty, but the Lemon Salad was by far much better. The combination of tastes was perfect, refreshing and just magic inside my taste buds. The Ragoo was interesting yet a bit fatty and not something I could eat in high quantities.
The mains were quite delicious. However, my incredibly impractical high standards got in the way and I just didn’t feel amazed or gastronomically challenged in any way. One remark tho – the onions really tasted like onions (a small inside joke related to a commentary on Launceston Place’s onions). The cabbage worked very well with the pork, and all in all, you could see that Diner’s kitchen had a high skill in ensuring the flavours blended together well. No one went with the fish. I wish I could tell you about the desserts, but I had to leave earlier to go and teach children. Children always get in the way of my happiness! Heston is renowned for two things: strange cuisine (many of his molecular gastronomy recipes are a bit too experimentional, tho I have heard that his London restaurant is much more mainstream) and amazing desserts. It seemed that the tastes blended together perfectly, to much of my annoyance. Desserts were divine. Damn it.