Friday, January 30, 2015

London: Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

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

Buttered Crab Loaf (c.1710)
Crab, cucumber, pickled lemon, golden trout roe & stone crab

Roast Halibut (c,1830)
Admirals sauce, shrimps, leaf chicory, brown butter & capers
Hereford Ribeye (c.1830)
Mushroom ketchup & tripe cooked chips

Tipsy Cake (c.1810)
Spit roast pineapple

Espresso

Fifth Best Restaurant in the World (2014)

It is often thought that the heavy use of spices during the middle ages was a way to disguise the taste of rotten meat but, in fact, the exotics spices introduced to Britain over time by the Romans, Venetian merchants and knights returning from the crusades were far too expensive to be wasted on meat that wasn't fresh; instead, spices were added to show how rich, refined and extravagant you were.

In 2014, I celebrated my 35th birthday at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal. The above anecdote was written underneath the menu clasp. According to the restaurant's website, Chef Heston Blumenthal wanted a menu that was inspired by historic British gastronomy. I thought the anecdote was fitting as I paid $175 for a spice rack from Dean & Deluca. I'm so fancy...you already know

Anyways, it was nice change to order from a traditional menu. I knew our time in London and Paris would be filled with tastings galore. But I can't deny the reason I was here was for the Meat Fruit. It was glorious. Foie gras lovers rejoice.

Do I need to say more? This post was inspired by someone I recently met from Toronto. Dear friend, don't burn the foie gras.

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park
66 Knightsbridge, London, UK SW1X 7LA
+44 207 201 3833
http://www.dinnerbyheston.com

Sunday, August 10, 2014

New York: Eleven Madison Park



Cheddar
savory black and white cookie with apple

Corn
custard with tuna and caviar

Cucumber
marinated with lemon and melon

Tomato
tea with lemon thyme
salad with strawberries with basil

Beef
pastrami with peppers, rye, mustard, and old-fashioned cherry soda

Bread
house baked bread, unsalted butter with duck fat, unsalted butter

Foie Gras
marinated with peaches, ginger, and bitter almond

Lobster
boil with clams, shrimp, and beans

Sunflower
braised with sunchokes and sunflower seeds

Duck
roasted with raspberries, blueberries, and mulberries

Fresh Cheese
pretzel, raspberry mustard, and green tomatoes

Whey
sorbet with caramelized milk and cherries

Apricot
grill with lemon thyme ice cream and honey

Pretzel
chocolate covered with sea salt

Chocolate
sweet black and white cookie with caramel

Espresso

Eau de Vie
apple brandy

Kitchen Tour

Shaved ice

EMP House made granola

Last week I had the opportunity to spend a week in New York. My evenings were spent in Brooklyn but I was able to snag a lunch reservation at Eleven Madison Park. I thought the courses were simple (in a good way) and it paid homage to New York favorites such as a pastrami sandwich. To me, a great restaurant invokes childhood memories and EMP did just that with their Cheese course. The course was whimsical as everything was presented inside a picnic basket. One element included one of my favorite snacks, a pretzel. I love pretzels, period. It reminded me of the Hot Sam pretzels that I craved as a kid in the mid 80s. I was tempted to ask for another pretzel to finish all of the cheese. So good. 

Bread service: I still think Joel Robuchon reigns supreme on that front but EMP is up there along with Guy Savoy. Too bad Alinea axed their bread service. It was good too.

Spoiler alert: After I left the restaurant, another surprise awaited outside with a local street vendor. Every diner was presented with a strawberry cream popsicle treat to beat the summer heat. 

Parting gift: I think every restaurant who offers a tasting menu of $200+ is obligated to give its patrons a parting gift. Whether it be a loaf of bread (a la Joel Robuchon) or TFL shortbread cookies, EMP does it right with granola that's as addictive as oxycodone. 

Overall, I had a better experience here than at the French Laundry. I didn't feel over stuffed and spending a few minutes in the kitchen was a nice touch to end my afternoon. Would I come back? Maybe for their fall menu. Otherwise, I don't feel the urge to come back any time soon to make up for any missteps as I didn't uncover anything.