Bucket list item has now been checked off. I recently went to Melbourne to see Book of Mormon and I was in charge of organising food visits. When I presented the list my travel companion enquired at the costs for all the dining excursions. I advised that I stayed mid range on pricing and joked I nearly added Dinner by Heston Blumenthal to the list to see if I could get it through. Her words “I will happily damage the credit card for Heston.” And so we booked. And so we dined. Now I will forever smile and bow to the master known as Heston.
DINNER BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL VENUE:
Located in the Crown Casino in Melbourne, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is an extravagance.
I had one issue with the entry into Heston – it is a LONG dark corridor with some lighting at the end. By dark I mean black – it was like entering a ghost ride at a theme park. You walk to the end and it is sealed on both sides. I literally turned left and walked into a wall. It took a little too long but the door on the right then slid open to reveal the beauty that is the venue. One giant window wall, that is the front of the casino, overlooking the waterway. It’s wall to ceiling glass and I am guessing the roof is thirty feet high. Arriving by day we were greeted by sun streaming in – it was beautiful, but at night it would be a view of lights and the occasional fireball from the fire shooter thing at the front of the casino.
To the left of the entry is the giant glass enclosed kitchen – you may have seen it on Masterchef this week – they did their challenge there. To the right is a reception, a bar and then there is seating filling the place. It is warm and stunningly decorated and while it is the epitome of high class dining it didn’t feel pretentious or uncomfortable in anyway.
Reviewing the toilet has always been part of my venue reviews and while the toilets at Heston are beautiful dark wood, for this sized venue there was literally only two (from memory) cubicles and I struggled to find the cubicle entry like I did with the entry door. It was a panel in the wall, lucky I wasn’t busting or I would have punched the wall in.
COST AND BOOKING TIME:
Our lunch for two plus drinks and parking was $507-. It’s a bucket list item for a reason, one cannot afford Heston on a regular basis. One might scream at that pricing and wonder how on earth a lunch for two can come to such outrageous pricing. Put it this way – the parking alone was $70-, you are then paying for some of the best service in the country. You also pay for the venue, which is HUGE, the experience, the food (of course), the location in the casino, and the brand of Heston. I would happily pay it again.
One tip for you – if visiting from out of town – book the venue for lunch, not dinner. Much quieter, same menu and no 2-3 month waitlist for a dinner booking.
THE MAN, THE LEGEND THAT IS HESTON:
Heston Marc Blumenthal is a culinary god. He is a man that is a leader in all things gastronomy and creator of dishes to make people orgasm (or is that just me?). He is the proprietor of The Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, one of four restaurants in Great Britain to have three Michelin stars; it was voted No. 1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants in 2005.
Blumenthal also owns the restaurant Dinner in London, which has two Michelin stars, and two pubs in Bray, The Crown at Bray and The Hinds Head, which has one Michelin star. He invented recipes for triple-cooked chips and soft-centred Scotch eggs and also owns this venue we are reviewing.
He advocates scientific understanding in cooking, for which he has been awarded honorary degrees from Reading, Bristol and London universities and made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry. Blumenthal is a pioneer of multisensory cooking, foodpairing and flavour encapsulation.
THE SERVICE AND THE EXPERIENCE:
Half of the amazement of dining at Heston is the experience. To be treated like royalty and pampered at your every need. We seriously had six waiters that looked after two of us. These aren’t university income waiters, they are all professional waiters, these service staff want to be there and they want to be good. It was like we had a different wait staff for every need. Water, wine, entree, main, dessert and so on. We also had the lead waiter who came back and speak to us on occasion. I actually thought it was too much but the staffing is never lacking – everywhere you look someone is there to assist. It was exceptional and all the staff were genuinely friendly and happy to be serving us.
The menu at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is about making the old new again. Following every meal on the menu is the approximate year of the dish’s origin. The meat fruit below is from around the year 1500 and came from French Royalty – apparently King Louis XII liked to play pranks and on his dining table was a giant fruit platter. Mixed in with the abundant fruit was the occasional “meat fruit,” a pate in disguise. Apparently it made him crack up to see the surprise on his guest’s faces. The meat fruit platter is honoured with a painting – pictured above.
Each dish in the menu has a story of its own and I was enthralled reading the history.
We chose the five course set lunch menu for $160- each – it’s $280- if you want your meal wine matched. I highly recommend the set menus, they contain all of the most popular dishes. You can also get the Chef’s Sample Table Menu, eight courses for $285- for lunch or ten courses at $375- for dinner. Or you can select from the A La Carte menu – the cheapest meal is a $28- dessert all the way to a $175- main for two.
WHAT WE ATE:
The drinks are exquisite as the meals – I had a cocktail and then we both indulged in a wine each. I started with a Riberry Pink Gin (c.1870) which was mostly clear and as potent as you can imagine but also smooth and delightful. The 2014 Hendel Malbec was recommended to us by the sommelier as the wine matched most of the meals on our menu. It was sublime. I still want more of it.
Our five course lunch mini-deguastion:
- Hay Smoked King Fish (c.1730) – served with pickled lemon salad, gentleman’s relish, wood sorrel and smoked roe
- Plum Meat Fruit (c. 1500) – spiced red win, chicken liver parfait and grilled bread
- Rice and Flesh (c. 1390) – served with saffron, kangaroo tail, red wine and amaranth
- Venison and Bottled Cherries (c. 1860) – served with smoked beetroot, grilled red cabbage and pickled cherries
- Tipsy Cake (c. 1810) – served with spit roast pineapple
In appearance the dishes appear small but trust me, by the end of the meal we were stuffed. We also received endless and perfect bread with yummy butter, go soft on that and you will make it.
THOUGHTS ON OUR DISHES:
The execution and nuance in each of the dishes is some of the best I have eaten and nearly unparalleled in comparison. The Hay King Fish was my introduction to the food at Dinner by Heston and it was a subtle awakening of the senses and something I will remember forever. Gentleman’s relish is actually a heavily seasoned anchovy paste and it added a balance to the simple and delicate morsel.
Next up was the Meat Fruit, a dish I have wanted to eat forever. For the cooler months they have a plum instead of the usual, and very famous, mandarin. It is one of the best meals I have eaten to date and I was in heaven with every single bite. I did notice that the plum looked like mottled skin, similar to the mandarin, and one of our troop of waiters explained they came across the mottling by accident. The coating is usually double dipped and then the fruit looks very smooth, one of the chefs let the fruit rest between double dips and it mottled. Now my thought on this is that for the plum they should go back to the double dip as a plum is smooth. But who cares – it was out of this world!
Next up was the rice and flesh. It may look like rice but it is amaranth, and if you aren’t aware in advance you may think the rice isn’t cooked properly. But it was wonderful and the kangaroo was sublime – I wanted more of it.
CONTINUED THOUGHTS ON THE WONDERFUL FOOD…..
The venison and bottled cherries was next up and it was probably the most visual of the meals, it was also the only dish I was not a huge fan of. The venison was superb, it melted in your mouth. I love cherries but I just couldn’t get into the pickled cherries, it was too sour for me. I did finish it however, I just didn’t go crazy on the sauce.
And finally there was the Tipsy Cake – the famed dessert. The caramel-like pull apart brioche balls was insane and paired with the spit roasted pineapple it made me squeal in delight. I do think it needed something creamy to bring the acid down but I would devour it over and over again as it is and still be happy. It is very sweet so be prepared.
DINNER BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL is a wonderful culinary bucket list item that I am happy to have ticked off. It may have cost me one kidney, but hey, we have two right? Meat Fruit is a dish I will dream of for years and the service is something all venues should aspire to. I cannot wait to win lotto so I can attend again.
SCORE BREAKDOWN: 3/3 food, 2/2 service, 1/1 drinks, 1/1 venue & ambience, 1/1 cost, 0/1 toilets and 1/1 bonus
DINNER BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL DEETS:
PH: (03) 9292 5779
Level 3 Crown Towers, Crown Melbourne, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank VIC 3006
BOOKINGS: Essential and a fair ways in advance
Mon – Thur: 515 – 11pm
Fri – Sun: 12 – 230pm, 530 – 11pm
BAR: Licensed bar
LOCAL DELIVERY: No
VEGETARIAN OPTIONS: Yes
GLUTEN FREE OPTIONS: Yes
KID FRIENDLY: No
*** This meal was paid for ***