Madcap Cooking from Heston Blumenthal

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Courtesy of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

Chef Heston Blumenthal has always been comfortable with uncomfortable combinations. Dishes like snail porridge and bacon-and-egg ice cream — created in a lab rather than a kitchen — earned his U.K. restaurant the Fat Duck three Michelin stars, and Blumenthal his reputation as a culinary alchemist. At Dinner, his much ballyhooed new offering in London's Mandarin Oriental hotel, he once again dreams up unusual flavors (like ketchup made of cockles). But he's also taken inspiration from centuries-old recipes.

The results are frequently stunning. The "Meat Fruit" starter, of medieval origin, resembles a satsuma — it's a gelatinous sphere of mandarin puree and oil — but conceals a filling of chicken-liver parfait. "Rice and Flesh" consists of saffron risotto with red wine and tender calf tail. Spiced pigeon, from an 18th century recipe, is prepared with ale and artichokes.

Given such culinary brilliance, you'll barely lift nose from plate. But if you do, you'll enjoy views of Hyde Park or of chefs at work in the open kitchen, doing things like slow-roasting pineapples before dolloping them on brioche filled with cream and alcohol. The latter may be the best view in the house.

For reservations, call (44-20) 7201 3833.

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