Now one of my main reasons for travelling to Melbourne was to try out the renowned Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, which boasts two Michelin stars in its London store. Situated in the Crown, it was quite a hike from our lodgings at Chinatown, but nevertheless we made five minutes before our booking was due. (I had in fact made this booking a good three months before).
On the other side of the door to the restaurant, we found ourselves at the beginning of a long dark hallway, infused with musty forest scents, leading to the dining area.
The long hallway created quite an affect for us when we got to the other side and stepped into the brightly lit, spacious and open dining area.
We were promptly seated in a rather large table for two people, and water was provided very quickly. The menu, which took inspiration from traditional British fare, not only described the dishes, but also had explanatory notes on their sources of historical origin, something that a history buff like my confidante really liked.
Bread was served rather promptly after we ordered. We commenced with some very rustic and traditional sourdough, served with spreadable, but light butter. The bread was crusty and had a really authentic homey taste to it which we both enjoyed.
Between the two of us, we shared the entree of Rice Flesh (c.13th - 15th), which contained Saffron, Curried Kangaroo Tail, Red Wine and Amaranth.
The staff were very accommodating and split our order into two dishes, which meant that we could avoid the mess of sharing plates (and portions were more equally halved >w<). Upon serving, what struck me immediately was the strong yellow of the saffron rice. It was only fair to say that the taste was as strong as it looked. I was quite blown away by the textures and flavours. The smooth yet al dente rice was complemented perfectly with the warm comforting saffron sauce, whilst the curried kangaroo offered an even more powerful blast of herbs and seasoning.
After our delicious entrees and a brief interlude, our mains arrived. My confidante ordered the Black Angus Ribeye served with Mushroom Ketchup and Triple Cooked Chips (c. 1830, originating from The Cook and Housewife's Manual by Mistress Meg Dodds). I settled with the Powdered Duck with Smoked Confit Fennel, Ale and Umbles (c. 1670 from The Queen Like Closet or Rich Cabinet by Hannah Woolley).
The duck breast was roasted to a perfect pink shade, and the portions were surprisingly generous. The Umbles (which according to Google are deer entrails) were surprisingly tasty with a chewy but meaty texture. The sauce was complimented the dish well, and the fennel served as a good alternative to the usual roasted vegetables.
We ordered the rib eye served rare. It came topped with herbs and bone marrow, which was smoother and richer than butter. The rib eye itself was cooked to a perfect pink texture, and was well marinated throughout. The strips of fat on the edges also accentuated the meaty textures, and made it a huge highlight. The triple cooked chips were amazingly crunchy, even when I saved some for after the steak. The mushroom ketchup was really interesting for us, as it had all the sweetness and texture of ketchup, but the scent and flavours of mushroom.
To provide a bit more balance to that meal, we also ordered a serve of Mixed Leaf Salad. It came out in a little bowl and was served with a light vinaigrette. We found the salad to be fresh, and the leaves to be crunchy, making it the perfect side to go with our meaty meal.
For those sharp eyed readers who noticed the hanging pineapples in one of the first few pictures, they weren't there merely for decoration. In fact they were there as a main ingredient of one of the most popular desserts.
Upon ordering our food, the waiter advised us that if we wanted to order the Tipsy Cake with Spit Roast Pineapple (1810 The English Cookery Book by J.H. Walsh), we would need to do so at the start of the meal, as the preparation time can take up to 40 minutes. Needless to say this captured our interest quite a bit, so whilst I was very keen on trying the Strawberry Tart, we made a last minute decision and ordered the Tipsy Cake instead. Having tried roasted pineapple with cinnamon on a previous occasion, I can safely say that this one was absolutely spectacular. With its crunchy caramelized outside, and soft juicy inside, I absolutely loved it. As for the Tipsy Cake, I can only say that it had a texture akin to a pineapple bun more than the regular sense of cake. It was doused in quite a bit of alcohol and custard, which made for a very warming and comforting experience.
After our dessert, we thought that that was the end of the meal. We were delighted to be surprised with an extra complimentary dessert of Earl Grey Chocolate Pot with a Cardamom Shortbread Biscuit. Usually, chocolate is quite a strong flavour and would overpower earl grey in any other circumstance, but Heston's was definitely able to strike the right balance between the flavours. The dessert pot was smooth and rich in texture, and this was particularly contrasted by the crispy cardamom shortbread, which was in turn a delicious way to round off such a memorable meal.
Price Range: $150 - $200pp