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Congratulations to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which has won the BMW Square Meal Award for Best New Restaurant Spring 2011.
The award is presented to a new restaurant that epitomises the qualities of the BMW brand: style, innovation, reliability and value for money. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – which, even before its launch, was the most talked-about opening of the year, both in and outside the capital – was a natural choice for winner.
When the reservation lines for Dinner by Heston Blumenthal opened last December, 6,000 reservations were taken by 44 operators in the first day, booking the restaurant for three months solid. Now, only four months on, the restaurant’s ‘meat fruit’ – a ball of chicken-liver pâté encased in orange-coloured jelly and topped with a leafy stalk – is already an icon; furthermore, since the opening, broadsheet restaurant critics have been queuing up to praise Dinner to the rooftops, and our readers have bolstered the opinions of the professionals in their online reviews. That such a hotly anticipated restaurant managed to live up to its hype is commendable.
Blumenthal told Square Meal how happy he was that Dinner had won the award. He said: ‘I have a lot of affection for the Square Meal BMW award. I remember getting it for The Fat Duck some years ago, at a time when Square Meal had never given the award outside London. They made a special exception that year, and it has always meant something really special to me that they changed the rules and recognised The Fat Duck in that way. So I was especially pleased when I found out about Dinner.’
BMW’s Paulo Alves presented head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts with the award. Palmer-Watts said he was surprised at the speed with which Dinner has started collecting accolades.
‘In the lead-up to opening Dinner, we weren't really sure what was going to happen, and being in London made us nervous’, he said. ‘I thought they were joking when I heard about winning the award. I never thought this would ever happen. But it's all down to the planning, thought and continual work everyone's put in.’
The task of choosing the best new restaurant from the past six months wasn’t easy – a good chunk of the capital’s restaurants have been equally lauded. The four other shortlisted restaurants were: Jamie Oliver’s Barbecoa (which received 5,000 calls within an hour of the booking lines opening); Gordon Ramsay’s Savoy Grill (which opened at The Savoy after the hotel’s £220 million refit); Hawksmoor Seven Dials (whose fans gush about ‘the best steaks in the country’); and Hakkasan Mayfair (which has proved that the restaurant’s decade-old formula is still a winner).
Congratulations to all the contenders that made the shortlist, and especially to Heston, head chef Ashley Palmer-Watts (pictured receiving the award) and the whole team at Dinner. Thanks, of course, to BMW for its continued sponsorship, and to our readers, who regularly take the trouble to share their experiences online. Keep posting your experiences on squaremeal.co.uk to win bottles of Cognac and Champagne.