Following The Fat Duck’s departure back to the UK, us lucky ducks in Melbs were still left with Dinner by Heston Blumenthal — the sister restaurant to Heston’s internationally acclaimed London restaurant of the same name.
I originally dined here on my 22nd birthday to celebrate with Tony, Jamie and Jess back in February — which makes this post about four months late. But hey, better late than never right? ?
Through their online booking system, I found that it was easier to come across a table for a bigger party than it was for a smaller one. I was easily able to secure a table for four less than two weeks in advance, compared to nearly a month’s wait for a table for two.
At the time of booking we were advised that we had the table for 120 minutes. But throughout the night, we realised that the staff were very hospitable and that we never once felt like we had to rush to finish our meal. Our dining session went from 5:45pm and finished close to 9pm.
Our friendly waiter kindly went through the menu with us in great detail and gave a list of suggestions on what to order. We were all delighted to find that each menu placeholder opened up to reveal unusual and interesting facts about food and cooking.
Light Rye Sourdough w/ Salted Butter
We started off with complimentary sourdough bread and salted butter. It was so good that we said yes to the offer of bread refills twice.. You can see Jamie eagerly waiting for me to finish taking photos before we could dig into the bread. Sorry Jamie.
Salamagundy $36.0 (c.1720)
For starters, we ordered five entrees to share between us. The first of which included this Salamagundy dish: comprised of chicken oysters, braised radish, marrowbone and pickled walnuts with horseradish cream (the circa date describes the period of origin of the dish). I don’t think I’ve ever had chicken oysters before but these were so juicy and succulent! More please.
Frumenty $36.0 (c.1390)
Another table favourite was this grilled octopus dish with pickled red moss and lovage in a smoked sea broth with spelt wheat. The octopus was cooked perfectly – very soft and not too chewy at all!
Roast Marrowbone $34.0 (c.1720)
The roast marrowbone was beautifully presented with this mix of snails, anchovy and parsley, and served with pickled vegetables on the side. I love that the pairing of the pickled vegetables helped to balance out the fatty richness from all of the meat ingredients.
Rice & Flesh $36.0 (c.1390)
Next was this morbidly named dish that made wonder what what we were in for when we ordered it. To our delight we were greeted with a vibrant plate of rice and silky looking saffron sauce resembling that of risotto – decorated with pieces of curried kangaroo tail, red wine and amaranth pieces.
The flavour was a bit full on (thanks to the saffron) as well as being slightly salty in taste but I liked it that way. Although I can see how this dish might be a bit too much for some people with the saffron flavour being a bit too overpowering.
Meat Fruit $38.0 (c.1500)
And of course, we had to order Heston’s iconic Meat Fruit to share. Just imagine the most scrumptious and velvety chicken liver parfait, encased in a thin layer of mandarin gel — all made to resemble an actual mandarin fruit! Served with grilled bread on the side.
I LOVED this dish! But then again, most likely because it happens to tug onto my fondness for things that aren’t actually what they appear to be. Nonetheless it was a clear winner for me. I probably would’ve been content with just having a whole meat fruit to myself right then and there.
Cross section of the Meat Fruit
For mains, we decided to get three dishes to share: the duck, the cod fish and the beef royale (special of the day). All three mains were spectacular in their own way but overall, I think that the entrees were my ultimate favourites for the night.
Powdered Duck Breast $54.0 (c.1670)
To start off, we had the powdered duck breast (where the meat is brined and salted) with smoked confit fennel and is then cooked in ales and umbles.
This breast easily tops the list as the best duck that I’ve ever had in my life *sigh*. It was cooked to a nice shade of pink, rendering it to be deliciously moist and tender. If you’re having a hard time contemplating between which mains to get, this dish would be my recommendation. Sahhh good.
Beef Royale $70.0 (special)
The special of the night: braised short beef rib served with ox tongue, roast onion (confited with smoked duck fat), and spiced carrot – all served with a red wine and anchovy sauce.
The meat of the rib itself was amazing, so soft and full of flavour – just a shame that it was pretty small for what it was worth. The ox tongue was flash fried in a crispy panko crust, which did irk me a bit initially but my fears quickly dissipated because the ox tongue itself was so delicious that I didn’t seem to care anymore.
Roast Blue Eye Cod in Cider $50.0 (c.1940)
I was happy that we decided to get at least one seafood dish. But it was going to be hard act to follow after the first two outstanding mains. The blue eye cod was served with silver beet leaves, roast onions, and fired mussels – all in a surprisingly creamy cider sauce. It was a really nice dish but unfortunately doesn’t compete on the same level as the two mains that we had beforehand.
Brown Bread Ice Cream $26.0 (c.1830)
Moving on to desserts, we started off with this brown bread ice cream. The ice cream itself sat on a bed of salted butter caramel with pear and malted yeast syrup drizzled on top. Sadly I didn’t find myself enjoying this dish very much. It did taste just like brown bread with a yeasty sourness to it, but maybe I’m just not used to ice cream having a slightly savoury and sour taste to it.
I managed to snap a picture of the pineapple spit roast on display on our way out (thanks for pointing it out Jess!) — which play an essential part in our next dessert: the highly acclaimed tipsy cake below.
Tipsy Cake $30.0 (c.1810)
We were advised at the start of the night that the tipsy cake needed to be ordered in advance as it usually takes around 40 minutes to prepare. We were tempted to get two but decided to stick with one just to be safe. Should have ordered two.
The cake itself resembled that of a light brioche baked in a brandy caramel baste. So soft on the inside with a bit of crunch on the outside! The caramelised pineapple pieces from the spit roast had a nice tangy acidity to it which balanced out the sweetness from the cake.
Chocolate Ganache w/ Caraway Biscuits
To finish off, we had complimentary plates of chocolate ganache infused with Earl Grey tea, and Caraway biscuits on the side. It was the perfect end to our dining experience. The ganache was so smooth and delish!
We were also offered the choice of extra dessert in the form of nitrogen ice cream being prepared for us on the spot from a cart but we politely declined.
Special thanks again to Tony, Jamie & Jess for treating me! ?
Overall we had a great dining experience here at Dinner by Heston. The food was exceptional, the atmosphere was excellent and the wait staff were friendly without being too pretentious at all. Also I had the best company to enjoy my birthday with ☺️
However this will most likely be a one time visit for two reasons: 1) the menu is priced more towards the extravagant end and 2) I didn’t find most of the dishes to have that “wow” factor for what the dishes was worth. Luckily I had generous friends who happily offered to pick up the tab despite me being the only one currently working. Thanks for the shout guys!
P.S. thanks again for the Spam cutter also ?
A great (but pricey) dining experience. Do not pass on the Meat Fruit & Tipsy Cake!
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
8 Whiteman St,
Southbank VIC 3006