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Travelogue: London - Christmas Eve Part I

Posted on Sunday, February 3, 2013

Christmas Eve was more than a month ago, and I have finally blogging about it now! Some kind of delayed holiday gratification, but the pictures do bring back fond memories of how we spent our day. 

First we had a Christmas Eve lunch at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in the Mandarin Oriental, followed by a festive gathering with the rest to explore Winter Wonderland and soak in some good old Christmas spirit on one of the only two possible dates in the whole year that it actually makes sense to go to Winter Wonderland (no prizes for guessing which is the second date)!

But of course, if all people thought like me, Winter Wonderland would go out of business.

So first up, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal! It's a one Michelin star restaurant that we booked for lunch, a whole month before Christmas Eve. It was already fully booked for dinner by then! And there I was thinking that a month was pretty early already.

Our plan was to order the Christmas Set Lunch special because it goes for just £36, which is a steal for a one Michelin star restaurant. I order it, but Justin gets tempted by the regular menu and goes with that.

Some Moet to get into the festive mood!

The bread and butter is fantastic. I eat so much, I fear I won't be able to finish my actual meal.

Appetizers arrive, mine are the Dressed Snails. It's a salad with well, snails. I'm not any food connoisseur, but I think that anyone who has tried a decent amount of this these squiggly creatures would agree with me that snails should never be served cold. It really just enhances the fact that you are eating something slimy, and crawls along the floor. After this I promised myself to always, always eat your snails extra warm with tons of garlic, butter and salt to cover up the overpowering taste.

I think one good example was when I went to Cestr in Prague for dinner, and they had the BEST escargot I have ever eaten. The most genius fact was how they paired a simple champignion mushroom with the snail, and because the mushroom and snail both have the exact same soft yet firm texture, it overpowered any leftover snail-y taste or texture which there usually is. And it was hot, hot, hot. I didn't take any proper pictures of it unfortunately. Some days you just don't feel like bringing your camera out!

Anyway, back to Heston's.

Justin orders the Meat Fruit (£15.00) for his appetizer. This is one of Heston's most famous and ingenious dishes. Why ingenious? Because at first glance, it looks like exactly what the title calls it - a piece of meat, and a mandarin fruit.

But wait, once you cut open the mandarin orange, you realise that you were wrong, it isn't even a real orange, it is a gelatin layer outside (completely edible and tastes just like a real orange peel), but inside is this gorgeous, gorgeous "chicken liver mousse" (or pâté) which is so smooth, so rich, and so heavenly. The "meat" is actually a piece of bread to complement the fruit. I'm afraid I take more of it from Justin that I meant to, but he was so generous and it tasted so good that I couldn't stop myself :(

Mains are served. I choose the Roast Ray Wing (pictured above). I honestly, do not remember anything about eating it. I don't even remember what fish it was, but it looks like salmon from the picture. I also think it is because Justin ordered the Black Foot Pork Chop (£30.00) (pictured below) which is another amazing dish. The pork is so smooth - the smoothest pork I have ever tasted. The Robert sauce is rich and dark, complementing the pork perfectly. Once again, I take more than I should have because it's so damn yummy.

The only saving grace about the Christmas menu at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is the dessert. I order the Prune & Tamarind Tart, while Justin gets the Tipsy Cake (£12.00). For once, my dish is better than his, in my opinion. The Prune & Tamarind Tart is essentially a creme brulee tart, while the Tipsy Cake is a warm roast concoction, tasting of pineapples, which in my opinion again, I do not like much like in a dessert.

So yes, ended our Christmas Eve lunch together on a very sleepy note (thanks to the champagne), but although the Christmas menu is disappointing, I'm glad Justin was overjoyed with his orders, and I got to try them too, if not I forever be scarred with a bad impression of Heston for life. I would say that this was our most expensive meal of our whole Europe trip. But really, it's Christmas Eve. Tis the season to be jolly!