Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
020 7235 2000
Being the King of England five hundred years ago must have been bloody brilliant. When the glugging of ale by the gallon demanded new lining for a bloating stomach, you could instruct your cook to make you one of those "rich men's tangerines" lifestyle magazines kept going on about, knowing you could pluck off those fake leaves, flick them into the air like confetti, and let every gluttonous bite take you to a bunga-bunga party where barely legal Tudor hotties lap-danced to a tasty tune in your multi-chinned royal cakehole. With hedonism like this on offer, it's no wonder Henry VIII was a fat fuck with five dead wives.
Thanks to famed molecule molester Heston Blumenthal, the good old days are back again, and the oligarchs, sheikhs and assorted grade-A anuses who splashed up to £140 million on One Hyde Park penthouses can now have meat fruit (£12.50), salamugundy (chicken oysters and bone marrow, £15) and other olden-daysey indulgences hand-delivered to their garish wank-parlours by hotel staff whose hourly wages wouldn't even buy them a bowl of fluffy tipsy cake (£10).
Oh, who am I kidding? As much as I'd love to be the first blogger to shit all over Heston Blumenthal's new history-themed restaurant, it wouldn't be very journalistic of me. This place is very good. Granted, it's about about as charismatic as its Knightsbridge location; the theatricality of The Fat Duck is nowhere to be seen. The open kitchen is impressive but while watching master craftsmen drizzle red wine jus onto plates with millimetrical precision is educational, Hot Wok on your local high street has the better pyrotechnics. And the smooth, efficient service and gimmick-free food - meat fruit excluded - ain't exactly Bray-style sweetbreads with headphones.
From the a la carte menu we ate meat fruit (hedonistic) and tipsy cake (fluffy) with spit-roast pineapple (fruit meat, almost), but we're not aristocracy so the rest of our meal came from the set lunch menu (£28 for three courses). I started with shredded pigs' ears, ably assisted by anchovy, onion and parsley in a stirring sauce. I then had the tenderest roast quail one could possibly ask for (and, Christ, the number of times I've asked...) with smoked parsnips and thyme, and I rounded Dinner off with the highlight of the feast, chocolate wine, which tasted exactly like wine made out of chocolate. As Heston stalked the kitchen, quietly inspecting the food being made in his name, we slowly, joyfully savoured wow-inducing Earl Grey ganaches.
It was very, very good. But it wasn't Fat Duck gosh-heck-fuck-wow-jeez-FUCK-oooooohhhhhh!!!! life-changing. But yes, it's very, very good.