The outing didn’t get off to the very best of starts; D2 and V got stuck on the Underground which meant they were late meeting us which meant that we were late getting to our table. Both D and I, but especially D, are pathologically punctual. Well, actually, I’d say that I am punctual, D is early. He started getting agitated at about quarter to twelve (admittedly, we had made tentative plans to meet them in the hotel bar at half past eleven, but equally, they had to convey a six month old baby and all the luggage that said small child generates to his grandparents’ house before setting off, and so I was unsurprised that they were running slightly behind schedule). By five to twelve I was also getting a little twitchy, although getting stuck into an appletini of mammoth proportions was taking the edge off. D had stopped hoovering up the Kettle Chips at this point – when D stops eating snacks then you know that the balance of his mind is seriously disturbed.
But they arrived and disaster was averted and the very charming staff, with nary a reference to the fact that we were nearly quarter of an hour late sitting down, offered us a seat on the terrace, with pashminas for the ladies if the slightly brisk July (!) weather became uncomfortable. And D calmed down and we all had a glass of champagne, at which point he probably regretted not smuggling the bar snacks in with him.
The menu at Dinner is rather exciting. The dishes are all “inspired by historic British gastronomy” and so often peculiarly named with unexpected ingredients, with the sources of origin listed on the back of the menu (which we snaffled). Personally, I felt a little adrift. Usually when I go to a fancy restaurant, I order a tasting menu. Not only because I am extraordinarily bad at decision making but because I want to get a feel for the restaurant and the cooking. Actually, the second half of that sentence makes me sound terribly poncey…let’s face it, it’s probably because I had a deep seated need to be told what to do rather than have to decide for myself. Here, not only did I have to decide for myself, but the language of the food was not what I was used to. There was a starter on there called “Rice and Flesh” for goodness sake (of which more in a second).
We kicked off with a pre starter, the “Meat fruit” which was a chicken liver parfait presented like an orange. Look at the picture – you’ll see what I mean. We got two of these for the table so as not to ruin our appetites. I wish we had ordered one each. This was amazing. Seriously, the best chicken liver parfait I have ever eaten and probably ever will eat. Silky, rich, that deeply savoury tang of iron that you get from liver, but overlaid with a delicate sweetness and the fragrance of citrus. We were back in plate licking territory here.
|Best. Chicken liver. Ever.|
Both the boys, being boys, had ordered Rice and Flesh for their starters. The name put me off – I’ll hold my hands up to that. But lordy. This was probably the best risotto I’d ever eaten (on the basis of the spoonful D allowed me to try). D and D2 suggested that larger lumps of meat would have improved the dish. I think serving it up in a bucket big enough to stick your head in is the only way it could have been bettered. I mean, wow. My salamagundy was fine, don’t get me wrong, but I think I mainly ordered it because I like the word and it didn’t cause rampaging flavour fireworks to go off in my mouth – if anything I would have liked more of a horseradish kick. And I think V was a wee bit underwhelmed by her scallops.
|Best. Risotto. Ever.|
|Best. Pork. Ever.|
So, great food including three best evers, friendly staff, good location – what’s the final verdict? I actually think I liked it more than the others. My brother said (while leaning back sipping his dessert wine – if he had a moustache he probably would have been twiddling it) that he didn’t feel that he had been taken on a “journey”. I told him he was a pompous git, but I kind of get what he means. Because the menu takes dishes from a variety of eras it overall lacks a little cohesion and, to be brutally honest, some of the dishes are a little humdrum (sometimes there is a reason as to why a dish has gone out of fashion). Others are superlative. But when you’re paying that sort of money for a meal you expect consistency. Overall, it’s a solid seven.