We took a very short holiday (hence the flight review in the previous post) to England to celebrate Chinese New Year with my relatives and friends. Whilst we were back, we tried 3 of Heston Blumenthal's restaurants, Ting at the Shard and Burger & Lobster. Here are my thoughts on them, enjoy!
High Street, Bray, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 2AH
Great place if you live nearby however if you're travelling from further afield, go to the Hinds Head instead
The first of Heston's restaurants to be visited. The Crown, Hinds Head and Fat Duck are located in the sleepy but affluent town of Bray, Maidenhead. Crown is the 'lower' end of the Heston range, with a more gastropub ambience rather than the fine dining of his other restaurants - but that doesn't mean the food is of any lower quality.
The Crown is like any old english pub, complete with black painted Oak struts, fireplaces and low ceilings. The food is well presented and well flavoured. The Duck Confit was a little over salted but nice nonetheless. Their burger was absolutely delicious and is worth a revisit for that alone. The burger wasn't overflowing with the garnishing which allowed the succulent, juicy beef flavour to come through. It also didn't crumble in the hand like some other, lesser burgers. Had it not been for Burger & Lobster (reviewed later on), this would have been the best burger I have eaten in a long time. That being said, second isn't too bad. Their coffee is served with amazing passionfruit marshmallows which make for a delightful end to a wonderful meal. Service is also great, they were friendly and attentive - especially to my 20 month old nephew. Not all places are kid friendly but this place was.
Other dishes worthy of note was the King Prawn Cocktail, Rye Bread and their Fish & Chips, Crush Peas & Homemade Tartar Sauce. The fish in particular was very nice, with the batter being especially light and fluffy without being coated in oil. All of this was at quite a reasonable price too, especially considering it has a celebrity chef's name behind it.
Is it worth going however? Well, if you're near Maidenhead and dying to eat a Heston restaurant, sure, but to make a journey from London? Perhaps not - considering Hinds Head is just opposite and despite the food and service being really good it's not leagues ahead of any well regarded gastropub in London. At of the end of day though, we had a wonderful meal and wouldn't object to going again.
What We ordered
Confit Potted Duck, Cornichons & Char-Grilled Bread
King Prawn Cocktail, Rye Bread
Roasted Jerusalem Artichoke Soup
'The Crown' Hamburger, Lettuce, Tomato, Pickles & Fries (+ Cheese)
Fish & Chips, Crushed Peas & Home Made Tartar Sauce
Char-grilled Irish Black Angus Bavette Steak and Marrowbone Sauce, Fries
Sticky Toffee Pudding
Vanilla Ice Cream
Banana Eton Mess
High Street, Bray, Maidenhead, Berkshire, SL6 2AB
Truly tasty food
Similar to The Crown, the atmosphere is that of an old English pub and architecture with low ceilings and creaking floors. This is the second time that I've been to The Hinds Head and on that visit, I was overawed with my meal. Because of that, I made it a point to revisit this restaurant again. Unfortunately, the restaurant didn't live up to previous expectations.
First, the good. Staff were polite and helpful. One waitress in particular was extremely helpful and went out of her way to check whether the prawn cocktail from The Crown could be brought over for us instead. The appetisers were delicious - and warrant a return visit; the scotch egg and split pea and ham soup deserve special mention. It is also kid friendly.
Now with the not so good. Despite the price, the Sunday roast was so thinly sliced it made me feel I was being rationed my beef portions for the week. The vegetables also had too generous a portion of butter in its sautéing. The presentation standards, I felt, had lowered since I was last there - especially for the Veal starter. Previously, it was served on a wonderful wooden board - the browns complimented the beautiful red hues of the veal, now however, it's served on a plain white plate. Considering the price one pays for this, I felt let down.
The last visit, I would have given this restaurant 4 stars, but I can't help but feel slightly disappointed this visit, so hence the three stars. I would still recommend this restaurant over the Crown however; the food selection is more imaginative and despite the lacklustre presentation, it's truly tasty.
What We Ordered
Tea-Smoked Salmon with Sour Cream Butter and Soda Bread
Raw Highland Estate Venison, Horseradish, Turnips and Shallot Dressing
Spinach, Artichokes and Mushroom Tartlet
Beetroot and Goat Curd with Cider Poached Pear and Pumpkin Seeds
Pea and Ham Soup
Roast Sirloin of highland Beef with Yorkshire Pudding
Roast Pork collar with Stuffing, Apple Sauce and Pork Cracker
Fillet of Stonebass, Crushed Jerusalem Artichokes, Cider Butter Sauce and Mussels
Chicken , Ham and Leek Pie with Mashed Potatoes
9oz Bone in Sirloin of Veal
Wild Mushroom Macaroni with Slow Cooked Hens Egg
Treacle Tart with Milk Ice Cream
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, 66 Knightsbridge, London, SW1X 7LA
Dinner is a wonderful dining experience which serves food you're unlikely to get anywhere else. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
*Photos taken with iPhone 6+
Dinner is Heston's 2 Star Michelin restaurant located in the Mandarin Oriental in London. In contrast to the pub ambience of his previous two restaurants, Dinner has a modern, design aesthetic and a more premium feel to it. The premise of Dinner is that it serves historical dishes ranging from 14th to 19th century and reinvigorates them for the 21st Century. It's Heston at his best.
One of the astounding highlights is the Meat Fruit - a chicken liver parfait that's created to look like mandarin orange. The citrus outer layer provides a lovely sweet aftertaste and contrasts well to the meaty liver flavour. Our main was the bone in Rib of Hereford Prime for 2 which was delightful yet somewhat overwhelming for 2 people. The Tipsy Cake dessert was recommended by many, however, I personally found the dessert too heavy, especially after the steak. I personally preferred the Sambocade, which was much lighter, sweeter and a more fitting to the end to the meal. Service, as expected, was very good. Price wise, as this is 2 Star Michelin restaurant, in the centre of London in the Mandarin Oriental - be prepared to spend.
We had an extremely wonderful dining experience at Dinner, with food that we're unlikely to get anywhere else in the world and was a fitting end to our journey of Heston's restaurants. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
What We Ordered
Meat Fruit (c.1500) - Mandarin, chicken liver parfait & Grilled Bread
Rice & Flesh (c.1390) - Saffron, calf tail & red wine
Bone in Rib of Hereford Prime for 2 (c.1830) - Mushroom ketchup & triple cooked chips
Tipsy Cake (c.1810) - Spit roast pineapple
Sambocade (c.1390) - Goats milk cheesecake, elderflower & apple, perry poached pear & smoke candied walnuts
Level 35, Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, London, SE1 9QU, United Kingdom
The best steak I have ever had
Ting is located near the top of the Shard, a monstrosity of glass and metal located next to the wonderful Borough market in London. Despite the Chinese name and the Asian hotel brand, the food is distinctly western orientated - with smatterings of Yuzu on desserts as the only Asian twist.
We were lucky that we were given a window seat overlooking the Tower Bridge - be warned that window seats aren't guaranteed. The view is astounding and really is something you can't get elsewhere, akin to seeing Paris from the Eiffel Tower. The ambiance is high class but very relaxed at the same time, it made for a very enjoyable lunch
I had chosen the London Smoked Salmon Royal and Rib Eye Steak for my starter and mains respectively. The steak is probably the best steak I have ever had, almost ethereal in nature. The steak was juicy, flavourful and tender beyond words. The truffle jus was absolutely heavenly and complimented the steak perfectly. Along with the food, the service was absolutely top notch as well, we could not fault them on anything.
The prices aren't too bad either (for lunch anyway), with the set lunch being quite reasonable especially when it comes with a view like this. Ting was an absolutely wonderful location to have lunch and will absolutely go back here again. Put this one on the list if you're in London.
What We Ordered
London Smoked Salmon Royal - Heritage beetroot, English Caviar, Lapsang Souchong tea
Roast Celeriac and Apple Soup - Crush apple and celeriac
Duck and Foie Gras - Cherry, sour dough toast
Rib Eye Steak 400 g with Truffle Jus
Sea Bass - Root vegetable ragout, edamame beans, yuzu butter emulsion
Lamb Rump - Redcabbage, goat's cheese, pine nuts
29 Clarges Street, Mayfair, London, W1J 7EF
Currently the best burger I have ever eaten
Burger & Lobster could be perfect, if not for the slightly condescending wait staff. As a new diner, one would expect some sort of explanation on the menu seeing that it was our first visit. However, we were spoken down to, so much so that we would have walked out had the food not had come highly recommended.
Thankfully we stayed as the food was pleasing in every sense. Both our mains came with golden brown fries and a side salad. The hamburger had a lovely grilled beef flavor and it oozed all the right smells and juices. They boast that their Nebraskan beef is so flavoursome that they don't need to add anything to make it tasty - and they're right, it's currently the best burger I have ever eaten. The lobster in the roll was sweet, extra rich and fresh. The lobster was sandwiched between a slice of toasted brioche with melted butter. Absolutely delicious and left us wanting more.
Despite the rocky start, Burger & Lobster's food speaks for itself - it's truly delicious and I will definitely be going back
What We Ordered