Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Crown Melbourne, Level 3, 8 Whiteman Street, Southbank
03 9292 5777
- Meat Fruit (C.1500)
- Rice & Flesh (C.1390)
- Slow Cooked Pork Belly (C.1820)
- Roast Ling In Cider (C.1940)
- Tipsy Cake (C.1810)
- Brown Bread Ice Cream (C.1830)
We of course began with the much-anticipated Meat Fruit. Being Heston's signature dish, it was naturally a must try. Beautifully presented and assembled as a mandarin, the resemblance and attention to detail was simply uncanny. Destroying this edible work of art and slicing open the thin jelly outer reveals an inner that consisted of the creamiest, silky smooth chicken liver parfait with incredibly consistency. The parfait was so decadent just in solitary, but by spreading the parfait and mixing it with the mandarin-flavoured, jelly skin on the charred bread, the balance in both flavour and texture were incredible, and every mouthful was an absolutely delight.
It was finally dessert time, and we were duly advised, from the very beginning, that it was going to take 40 minutes to prepare that famous, made to order Tipsy Cake. We were simply in awe as it arrived at our table. Served in a cast iron casserole, the brioche was warm and fluffy, with a light, crispy and caramelised top that hides away the fluffy brioche inner. Soaked in a generous amount of rich and creamy brandy sauce, the brioche simply melted away in your mouth, providing a pleasant yet complex blend of sweetness and lusciousness, with a hint of alcoholic aftertaste. The spit roast pineapple was admittedly less spectacular, though still enjoyable. It perfectly accompanied the brioche, balancing the richness with its acidic and punchy flavours.
Another entree that we sampled was the Rice & Flesh. With herbs carefully arranged to resemble the legs of cockroaches, drowning in a pool of yellow goo, the presentation of the dish was perhaps as intriguing as the Meat Fruit. The rice was cooked in an incredibly rich and creamy base, though, the deliberate undercooking of the grain resulted in hard and chewy bits throughout. With expectations of a soft and fluffy rice dish, I personally felt that this was akin to a poorly executed risotto. And yes, I did ask the waiter, and it was supposed to be like that. Personally not a fan, but hey whatever floats your boat Heston. The kangaroo tail had good flavour, though wasn't nearly as tender and soft as we'd like either. The flavours, we loved, but the execution of the main components left much to be desired.
We also found the Slow Cooked Pork Belly rather unremarkable. While the pork itself was juicy and tender, and yes cooked to perfection, it was honestly unimpressive. The flavour, and textures were almost indistinguishable from a fatty leg of ham you'd roast for Christmas. The lardo, which is made from pure pork fat, was slimey and unpleasant. With extreme saltiness, it enveloped a mixture of spelt cooked with mushroom, parmesan and cream. While I'd gladly polish off the dish at any restaurant, Heston or otherwise, it was unapologetically heavy and rich, perhaps overly so and definitely lacked balance and finesse.
The Roast Snapper in Cider turned out to be a pleasant surprise. The cider base was deliciously creamy, punchy and rich, with a perfect balance of sweet, salty and acidity. Coupled with the fresh, earthy silverbeet leaves and the caramelising roast onions, this was perfectly accompanied by some of the freshest and most tender fired mussels. The combination of flavours worked perfectly and felt very comforting to our palate. Despite the highlights though, the main attraction of this dish, namely the snapper, was unexpectedly chewy though. While it still exhibited a fresh and pleasant aroma, the over-cooking is simply unforgivable.
The staff weren't overly engaged unfortunately. The attention to detail was lacking, as was the genuine feeling of friendliness.
Brown Bread Ice Cream. Some things are just not meant to be, and Brown Bread made into an Ice Cream flavour was the tragic testament to this fact.
With the ice cream sitting on top, the base was composed like a flat puck. It was filled with an exceptional blast of sweetness from the salted butter caramel, a refreshing crunch of the pear, and of course, cubes of brown bread. As if all this weren't odd enough, the ice cream was itself was incredibly salty and exhibited a weird texture, perhaps closer to cream than ice cream. The malted yeast syrup certainly didn't help the cause either, which only added to the saltiness of the dish. We tested out the dessert, first by combining all the ingredients as instructed, apparently to get the 'right' flavour balance, then individually. At the end, we concluded that, while it was tolerable when eaten altogether, these components were downright disgusting in solitary. As the saying goes, "you can put lipstick on a pig, but it's still a pig".
Our meal was marred by a range of emotions, from pure joy and ecstasy, to downright disappointment and regret.
While I'd contend that it was worth the visit and to experience what Heston has to offer, we certainly didn't leave overly impressed.
Even though most of the 'mediocre' dishes tonight would certainly be categorised as 'good' at most eateries, Dinner by Heston is no ordinary restaurant, and given his reputation, imperfection is simply inexcusable.
Would Penguin Eat Again?
Yes. Come for the Meat Fruit. Stay for the complimentary bread. Leave with the Tipsy Cake.
All other items here aren't really worth your while, as they can easily be had better elsewhere, without emptying your whole bank account.