Author: Chic Eater
If you are into culinary, I’m quite sure you have heard of this British celebrity chef, Heston Blumenthal, the owner of a three michelin stars restaurant called The Fat Duck in Berkshire, London. During a redesign work of Fat Duck London back in 2015, the Fat Duck was relocated to The Crown Melbourne for a 6-months pop up residency. Upon noticing the potential market there, on the space previously occupied by The Fat Duck, Dinner by Heston was created and opened late 2015 with kitchen left under the wings of Ashley Palmer-Watts.
Having seen Blumenthal’s intriguing food inventions from Masterchef episodes and his cookbooks, I decided to make a reservation at Dinner by Heston, on our Melbourne-Sydney 12-days trip last November. Using a Book a Table link in their website, I chose the available date that coincided with the days of our Melbourne visit. I felt fortunate since there was only a few slots of day and time left for the month.
One day after the reservation was made, we received an email with an offer to attend Good Food lunch session for AUD 249 per person instead that will present a four-course meal with 4 different wine pairings, including their first servings of Eggs in Verjuice, the infamous dessert that made its first worldwide appearance on the finale of Masterchef Australia on July 2016, in this fine dining establishment.
Knowing that the meal course will serve at least one other dish besides Eggs in Verjuice that I have been craving to try, it did not take long for us to opt on the offer.
As the long awaited day arrived, we made it on time to The Crown Towers Melbourne, parked our rented car at designated parking area in the building and headed straight for Dinner by Heston at level 3, passing by the casino. Through the entrance, we got to a rather dark alley with several spotlight on the pathways lighting the way to a wall with octagon-shaped lighting pattern. Once you got there, there was a door to your right that led directly into the dining hall of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.
Upon entering the hall, we were greeted and ushered to our table. As we followed her footsteps, we passed by large open kitchen on the left and astonishing view of Melbourne CBD skyscrapers and the Yarra River through the high glass windows in the front. We were quickly seated on a table for two by the window which was everything we hoped for.
This high-celing dining hall is quite vast, able to host more than a hundred guests or so. Adopting its British roots, the interior is sleek and elegant dominated with curved vermillion-colored leather booths in the centre area and greenish armchairs to accompany wood-furnished tables across the room.
As guests started to fill up the tables, the event started soon enough with the restaurant manager and Ashley Palmer-Watts, a former head chef of Fat Duck and the current head of Dinner by Heston, opening the lunch session with welcoming speech and brief statements on the menu to be served in this session, that we have been dying to try.
Check out below astounding photos of the window view from our table. What could be more perfect than that.
As we waited for the meal course, we started off with a slice of whole wheat bread and soft butter. We also ordered a glass of smooth and fruity beer that was suggested by the server.
Hay Smoked Ocean Trout (AUD 36) – Pickled lemon salad, gentleman’s relish, wood sorrel, smoked roe.
Paired with 2011 Sancerre, Les Pierris, Domaine Roger Champault, Loire Valley, France.
This first starter course was light but sophisticated in terms of flavour sensation as the fishy taste of anchovies, spice taste of the relish, the vinegary taste of wood sorrel, mixed with the sour lemon taste on the salad as well as the smoked roe, added richness to the smoked trout. It was truly a great hors d’oeuvre accompanied with a winning French Sauvignon Blanc. Great pairing.
Meat Fruit (AUD 38) – mandarin, chicken liver parfait & grilled bread.
Paired with 2013 Tokaji Furmint, Late Harvest, Disznoko, Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary.
Having been curious on this particular one for a while, I was electrified when this intriguing dish got served on my table. The plating was served on a wood tray that consisted of just bread and an orange look-alike, that was actually chicken liver parfait wrapped in mandarin jelly shaped into the form of an orange. The parfait was soft and light in terms of flavour and it was best eaten with the bread by spreading it onto it. If you are a big eater, you might want to consider asking for a refill on the bread. It might seem meaty to eat such a generous portion of chicken liver, but even for a lady like me, it was fine. In fact, I felt its suaveness in each bite. Loving it! This one is definitely a must try.
Paired with a tokaji dessert wine, created from white Hungarian wine grape or furmint mostly found within Tokaji wine region in Tokaj-Hegyalja Hungary, the sweetness of the wine balanced out the flavour-fulness of the parfait.
Chicken Cooked with Lettuces (AUD 58) – Grilled onion emulsion, oyster leaf & spiced parsnip sauce.
Paired with 2013 The Triangle Block, Shiraz, Yalumba, Eden Valley, Australia.
This seemingly simple dish was executed and presented well. The parallelogram-shaped cut chicken breast was put on top the spiced parsnip sauce just beside the onion emulsion. The taste symphony created was harmonious, which made it an exquisite main course.
Eggs in Verjuice (AUD 32) – Coconut pannacotta, coffee parfait, verjuice & citrus.
Paired with 2014 Gailac Doux, Muscadelle, Robert and Bernard Plagcoles, South West, France.
Having watched the Masterchef Finale where the dish made its worldwide television debut, I knew then how delicate and irksome it was to create this lovely and attractive dessert. Ashley Palmer-Watts came back out to send the dish off so to speak, as it made its first kickoff session in this restaurant. This egg-shaped shell sitting on dried noodles ‘nest’ was made of white chocolate. To crack it open, we were suggested to give it one strong whack on its top.
As I cracked it, I gained access to the actual dessert inside. The coconut pannacotta with coffee parfait and verjuice in it was a delight. I felt that the pairing with muscadelle wine was spot on. Being part of the launch was an exciting experience that I would not trade for anything else. Making it even more memorable, we were given a chance to have a short meet up and chit chat session with the Head of this noteworthy establishment, celebrity chef Ashley Palmer-Watts.
Taking my last sip of Tokaji Furmint on my refilled glass, I began to compile the whole experience of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal and how it fared within my fine dining vocabulary. The entire thing from start to finish had been quite extraordinary. We enjoyed the setting and the breathtaking view glimpsed from the window. We were also pleased with the service especially the attention they gave to explaining the courses served and making sure we had everything we needed. However, what we were infatuated by was the level of culinary excellence they put into each dish served in this four-course lunch, combined with spotless wine pairings.
If you are into fine dining whether you are a Heston Blumenthal devotee or not, I would recommend a visit to Dinner by Heston Blumenthal on lunch time and experience the magic yourself. I haven’t by any means tried enough of their dishes, but judging from what I was served that day, I can only imagine the taste of each menu until my next visit, which I am highly buoyant about.
DINNER BY HESTON BLUMENTHAL
Crown Towers Melbourne
130/8 Whiteman St
Southbank VIC 3006
Book Online here
Ph. +61 3 9292 5779
Daily Reservation time:
Lunch 12pm – 2.30pm
Dinner 5.30pm – 11pm