I'm new to this gig – i.e. restaurant reviews, so perhaps my 8 out of 10 is unjustly harsh because the reality is that I really enjoyed the food, but hear me out…
I do often find that when I do 3 courses I find that I would have been happier had I just gone for a starter and a main, and the truth is that I felt the same way after my experience at Dinner. It's not that the main (powdered duck) wasn't extremely well executed and flavoursome, but it just didn't have the wow factor I was execting (despite me knowing that I would probably never be able to create this dish at home…I mean, what on earth are umbles???). When discussed with my pal at dinner she speculated that this might be due to hotel restaurants having to play it somewhat safe on the mains if you're catering to hotel guests, as guests quite often just pop in for dinner and don't want anything amazing..just something nice. I thought that this was probably true after giving it some thought.
The starter (meat fruit) and dessert (tipsy cake) on the other hand were, for me two of the most memorable and delicious dishes that I have tried this year. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed them both, and actually wished by the time I had dessert that I really hadn't gone for the main at all as indigestion had kicked in! (not that that stopped me devouring the entire tispy cake). If I enjoyed dessert so much when I was probably too full for it, you can imagine how it would have gone down if I had more room for it! I blame the meat fruit – do not underestimate just how filling this starter is – there's a serious amount of liver parfait and mandarin jelly going on there, and its oh, so wonderfully rich and delicious!
At just over £100 for 3 courses, a glass of Ruinart rose, glass of rioja and rose tea I thought the pricing was not too bad – the glass of Ruinart alone cost an eye watering £19…but I have not regrets on that front to be honest, as it was a special occasion anyway – birthday (well that was the excuse for booking a table). And when the first thing asked of you when you're seated at your table is ‘Would you care for a glass of champagne?’ and a table laden with the stuff is wheeled over to you, you'd be a fool not to think…'well go on then'..just one glass.
The ambience was pretty good by 7pm (pretty empty when we arrived at 6.30pm as was to be expected on a Monday evening). By the time we left at around 10pm Dinner was still in full swing, and Rupert Everett hadn't left his table by then so I assume he was having a wonderful time. I did think the restaurant area was very smart, but personally I would rather something a little less formal looking, and a bit more welcoming (I'm not really into ‘smart’ dining..I just LOVE good food). The ceiling to floor glass which defined the kitchen area was however, a superb idea. I loved the fact I could look into the kitchen from my chair and see the pineapple for my divine tipsy cake cooking on the spit, and all the chefs preparing wonderful food.
I, like so many others can certainly recommend Dinner for dinner…but I'd stick with the starters and desserts if you want to try some truly wonderful food.