A space-age history lesson from Britain’s gastronaut-in-chief
What’s it all about? In a nutshell, history. Where The Fat Duck, Heston Blumenthal’s flagship eatery, is all about playing with emotion, expectation and memory, his London fine-diner run by chef Ashley Palmer-Watts mines a surprisingly rich vein of British culinary history for its inspiration.
Boiled beef and cold toast? Far from it. Delving into dishes recorded as far back as the court of Henry VIII, the menu is anything but bland. Roast cod and smoked beetroot flavour a 16th-century savoury porridge; spiced celeriac sauce and oyster leaf accompany chicken cooked with lettuces (circa 1670); a pineapple, slowly roasted to caramel acquiescence on a spit, forms the centrepiece of a 17th-century tipsy cake.
And what of the famed ‘meat fruit’? A showstopper of a starter, it comprises an orb of chicken liver parfait refashioned to perfectly resemble a mandarin.
And now it’s Down Under too? The Fat Duck moved its entire operation to Australia for a temporary residency in 2015, and when it concluded, the space at Melbourne’s Crown Entertainment Complex was transformed into a new Dinner by Heston Blumenthal – the chef’s first permanent restaurant outside the UK. The antipodean version of Dinner is faithful to the menu of the London original, but with some local twists: kangaroo in the Rice and Flesh, for instance, and the addition of a lamington (the favourite Australasian pastry) to the dessert menu.