FACT Review: Medieval marvels at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
Discover flavours from the history books.
Forget Beyoncé’s first performance in five years. Forget the fire and water fountain. And Forget the world’s largest water park. The one thing at the newly-opened Atlantis The Royal that had this gastronome most excited was the arrival of Dinner By Heston Blumenthal.
First announced in 2018, the half-decade wait for the Dubai outpost of London’s Michelin-starred Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has been palpable. As one of the world’s most audacious chefs, Heston Blumenthal has worked with food historians to reimagine Britain’s gastronomic past with dishes dating back to the 14th century. The result is a dare to be different dining experience.
We begin our meal at Resonance, Heston Blumenthal’s first foray into mixology. The chic cocktail bar off the hotel lobby presents seven molecular marvels paired with complementing bar bites, set against the dramatic backdrop of Atlantis The Royal’s skyblaze fountain. Here, the cocktails and cuisine have been imbued with theatrical presentations to evoke feelings of playfulness, wonder, excitement, curiosity, and nostalgia. So far, so Heston. The Bay Of Pearls, an alluring cocktail made with Champagne, coconut-washed ambrette and jasmine, gets our evening off to an enchanting start.
We soon move upstairs and into the restaurant, entering through wooden Tudor panelling engraved with dragons and other fantastical designs. Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’s Dubai dining room offers a direct comparison to its London counterpart, where floor-to-ceiling windows, soaring ceilings and wheel chandeliers have been replaced with a sultry atmosphere and glass-fronted show kitchen.
But first, let’s talk pineapples. The fruit was historically seen as a symbol of luxury and adventure, and a giant pineapple ‘clock’ greets diners at Dinner in Dubai. This functional centrepiece opens and closes at thirty-minute intervals while turning a rotisserie of roasted pineapples in the kitchen that are used in creating the restaurant’s signature Tipsy Cake.
We take a seat in a comfortable leather booth with views of the Dubai skyline glittering in the distance and are guided through the narrative of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal’s unique concept. After researching 14th-century cookbooks used by the royal chefs of King Richard II to Lewis Carroll’s flights of fancy and consultation with food historians, Heston’s cutting-edge take on historic British cuisine was born.
The concise menu features a range of appealing dishes, including Rice & Flesh, a porridge-like risotto of saffron and beef cheek that can be traced back to 1390. With such innovation on display, we excitedly opt for complete culinary immersion through the six-course tasting menu priced at AED 1,250 per head.
A white chocolate pearl stuffed with caviar offers a swalty punch to the palate, followed by the lauded Meat Fruit. Inspired by a traditional medieval dish called Pome Dorres or “apples of gold”, Dinner’s contemporary version features a silky chicken liver parfait that looks like a mandarin, complete with a dimpled skin composed of mandarin jelly. The attention to detail is striking, and it’s easy to see how this dish became a viral sensation.
Harking back to the 1440s arrives the Roast Halibut & Green Sauce. The dish is a personal favourite of Chef Heston, who likes to dip the restaurant’s Triple Cooked Chips into the appealing sauce made from parsley, pepper, onion and eucalyptus. We suggest you do the same.
The Powdered Duck Breast is a sensation of sweet and savoury that combines succulent sous vide duck breast with braised and grilled red cabbage, spiced umbles and pickled cherries. Dating back to 1846, it’s a rich and well-balanced autumnal dish, with the term ‘powdered’ relating to an old phrase for ‘brined.’
On the evening we dine, the tasting menu doesn’t include the whimsical Tipsy Cake (a spit-roasted pineapple dessert). Instead, we are treated to the divisive Sambocade. Originating from a 1390s recipe, this take on cheesecake features goat’s milk, elderflower, apple, pickled blackberries and walnuts and is best described as a taste of the British countryside.
We finish with Eggs in Verjuice, a dish initially introduced as an Easter special that has quickly resonated with Dubai diners. Resembling a dappled duck egg, cracking the white chocolate ‘shell’ reveals a yolk and white made from coconut pannacotta, passionfruit, mango yolk and verjuice. Like the meat fruit, it’s an Instagrammable play on perception and a memorable finale to a mesmerising meal.
Although Heston has yet to show face in Dubai, the kitchen is under the competent tutelage of charismatic Chef De Cuisine, Tom Allen. A veteran of the Fat Duck Group who has worked side-by-side with Heston for the past decade and a half. Anchored around innovative cuisine, strong storytelling and stellar service, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal has made an immediate impact on the Dubai dining scene.
Expect the unexpected from this experiential dining experience that will leave a lasting impression.
GO: Visit www.atlantis.com for reservations and more information.