Blumenthal to begin new gastronomic adventure

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Indy Lifestyle Online

While the dishes may not hit the heights of culinary oddness scaled by snail porridge or bacon and egg ice cream with liquid nitrogen served at his most famous restaurant, Heston Blumenthal is still planning a few surprises at his new gastronomic adventure.

Britain’s most inventive chef has revealed the menu for his first restaurant in London will include fake fruit made of meat, pigeon pie...and pig’s ears on toast.

Another dish, “toast sandwich” - which he described as “a piece of toast sandwiched between two pieces of bread” - was still in development, he told The Independent in an interview.

After 15 years at the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, where he has established a reputation for outlandish combinations of ingredients, the chef’s second restaurant will open Dinner at the Mandarin Oriental hotel, opposite Harvey Nichols in Knightsbridge, in January.

The chef-turned Channel 4 food presenter said that it would not copy the lavishly-prepared dishes at the £160-a-head Fat Duck. Instead, the 130-seat brasserie will feature modern versions of historic British recipes, with several variations of Tudor and Stuart recipes, some unearthed by historians at Hampton Court Palace.

Prices will be relatively low, with a set lunch menu at £25 and around £75 for three course. A glass partition will afford an almost full view of the kitchen, including the roasting of meats on a rotisserie part built by a Swiss watchmaker.

Among the other unusual features will be a trolley for the serving of instantly-made ice cream at tables, inspired by a Victorian cook and entrepreneur, Agnes Marshall, who had a shop in nearby Regent’s Street.

Blumenthal, 44, who is currently shooting a new TV series called Michelin Impossible where he cooks in unusual locations, said he wanted to inject a note of fun into the grand setting of the Mandarin. “From a design point of view it’s going to be smart but I didn’t want it to be a smart grand restaurant in a five-star hotel because those sometimes have had a tendancy to feel characterless. So I wanted a bit of noise - so we’ve got no tableclothes, there’s a wooden floor,” he said.

“I just want people to walk in there and feel it’s busy and noisy and fun. There are so many great restaurants within half a mile. From my point of view the last thing I wanted was to be seen as some hoity-toity chef swanning into Knightsbridge; it’s not meant to be that. It’s meant to be celebrating historic recipes with a modern twist. Celebrating them, being inspired by them, rather than replicating them.”

More unusual dishes will include taffety Tart, a Stuart combination of apples, rose petals and fennel and “meat fruit”, coloured gelatine in the shape of fruits, stuffed with pate. The pigs ears will be slow-cooked and served on toast for lunch.

Traditional dishes will include rib of beef with onion puree, bone marrow, capers and herbs capers and roast lamb with cucumber.

Blumenthal said: “A lot of people go to eat not because of the food, they just want to be out in a restaurant... So we wanted to make sure we’ve got a few dishes on the menu which will tick the boxes for those kind of people as well. We might do a form of roast... roast lamb and cucumber, or the river beef steak and chips, and the only difference is you will get a little side dish of mushroom ketchup.”

After about three months, Blumenthal intends to start serving afternoon tea, with open savoury pies and cakes. “Again that will be inspired by historic British stuff, so we’ve got maybe little pies like lamb and cucumber or pigeon and artichoke – or chewets, which are open pies with pigeon and spices in them as well.”

He added: “There’s something I haven’t done, but I love the sound of it: toast sandwich. It’s a piece of toast sandwiched between two pieces of bread.

“We haven’t started playing around with it, but it grabbed my attention: ‘I’m going to have a toast sandwich’. I’m not sure if we’re going to get anywhere with it, but we’re going to give it a go.”

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