I’m not qualified to judge whether this was somehow an outstanding restaurant from a foodie’s perspective, but it was certainly a memorable night with food that was uniquely selected and brilliantly prepared and presented. This was very much Graeme and Sally’s treat, but we are a bit converted to the idea that there should be one big splash on a holiday. This was certainly it.

Dinner, by Heston Blumenthal is in the Mandarin at Knightsbridge and has two hats. I don’t expect to eat at a three hat, so this is a bit of a pinnacle. It is in Knightsbridge, so one of the things we did before heading in was to go car spotting. A family sedan in this part of London is a Merc with lots of numbers and letters; we were probably the only guests who arrived by Tube. This gave us the freedom to count Bentleys, Ferraris and an Aston Martin before walking up the steps.

You couldn’t fault the service – they played it up to the customer, snooty for the snobby, warm to us, helpful to the callow types out to damage their credit cards and impress the girlfriend. Very clever, I thought, and just the right level of attention. The decor? Stunning. The kitchen – eat your heart out, Fiona M, Ali P and Ingrid J – was amazing. The sheer number of young chefs at work on the entrees was out of this world. The wine list? A bank manager’s nightmare but the young somelier (a young lady from Hong Kong) found the right wine for everyone.


We got incredibly lucky and were offered a tour of the kitchen at the end of the evening, so we did a certain amount of oohing and ahhing at what we saw. And that was only the final prep kitchen!

The menu was simply engrossing, because it was a research project in this history of English cooking. All the dishes were sourced from cookbooks from the 14th Century to the 1850s, cooked in the rather specialised Heston way.  

We kept our menus as a souvenir: the least they could do at the price! We committed all sorts of crimes against good manners by taking pictures of the extraordinary food. I had the Crab Loaf and the Fillet (quite possible the sweetest and most tender meat I have ever taster), while Paula had the Meat Fruit and the Ribeye. No prizes for guessing the desserts we picked! The biggest shock was the tea menu – there was a serious pot of tea costing £25! But such flavours (not the tea, I had a pretty standard espresso).

 It was a wonderful evening and we felt very lucky to have been invited along!