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SOCIALISING - January 2013

Phew, that was close ... about the closest we've come to entirely missing our lunch reservation and, yet, making it by the skin of our teeth.

Dinner at The Mandarin Oriental, lunch, New Year’s Day; it was fully booked. With no traffic on the road, even we can’t be late, can we?

Well, yes, we could, it seems. Sales. Not January sales anymore but New Year sales … really, people? You have nothing better to do with your hangovers?

The roads from Marble Arch to Knightsbridge were packing heat and there was not a parking space to be found. Finally, we tossed our keys at the doormen and wheeled inside with one minute to spare.

No time for a leisurely look at the menu. Speed read. Order. So, we did. Then, we relaxed.

This is a room for relaxing. A comfortable room with space between the tables. Decent acoustics - even full, we were able to chat normally. Two smaller rooms (in its’ pre-Dinner incarnation) knocked into one with tall windows spanning one side, overlooking Hyde Park, and mirrors along the back wall. Liked that - even facing the back, I was able to see the park and daylight. Better access now for the wheels - via the ballroom side entrance to the main hotel and lifts. It was all good. Fine London dining, what’s not to love?

We left a couple of hours later, replete, happy, dozy. Fabulous way to spend New Year’s Day.

Dinner is Heston Blumenthal’s London restaurant, based at The Mandarin Oriental. Conceptually, the restaurant flies ...

With inspiration gained from recipes as far back as those used by the Royal Courts of King Henry VIII, Dinner’s menu includes classics such as Mandarin Meat Fruit. A savoury meat course disguised as fruit, this delicious dish is the perfect example of how - through the ages - food has been used both as fuel and as a form of entertainment.

Having spent years researching such recipes, Blumenthal and Ashley Palmer-Watts have devised a menu that will not only excite your taste buds, but also stimulate your mind. Appearing on the menu with its date of origin and a reference to the cookbook in which it originally appeared, these wonderful dishes offer a unique insight into Britain’s rich culinary history.

Fun, huh? Yes, it was. From lots of intriguing sounding choices, I’d recommend the smooth and scrumptious:

Meat Fruit (c.1500) - Mandarin, chicken liver & foie gras parfait, grilled bread

We really wanted triple cooked chips so we shared a soft, succulent:

Bone in Rib of Hereford Prime for 2 (c.1830), Mushroom ketchup & triple cooked chips

And, to finish, I had the:

Brown Bread Ice Cream (c.1830) - Salted butter caramel, pear & malted yeast syrup

EaZyD had some other stuff that he liked a lot. The service was great. Would be happy to go back anytime. Well worth the trip if you like great food, a different - but not too different - approach, comfort, luxury and you’re okay with London fine dining prices.

I’d pick the Fat Duck for more thrills and fun if I had to choose but there aren’t a lot of London restaurants that provide a more pleasurable experience than Dinner.

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