One of the most exciting parts of our whirlwind Melbourne trip was our dinner experience in Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant, Dinner by Heston, lavishly located on the 3rd floor of the Crown Towers hotel. In stark contrast to the brightly-lit, open spa next to it, the restaurant exterior was dim, and as we walked up the dark corridor to the entrance, we had no idea what to expect.
The door, which we couldn’t see in the dark, automatically swung open to reveal an elegant, bright setting, with quirky touches to the décor and a window looking in to the restaurant kitchen. We were shown to our seats right next to the window, with views over the Yarra river.
We ordered drinks first:
The Lemonade had a profound lemon flavour and the Spider was refreshing, served with creamy vanilla ice-cream.
Our waiter gave us a thorough explanation of the extensive menu and his knowledge of the dishes was impeccable. We were pretty impressed with how professional, but unimposing the staff were.
Our complimentary sourdough was soft, with a crunchy, but not hard crust, with warm, creamy butter.
For our starters, we couldn’t go past the famous Meat Fruit.
It was such a pretty dish, and so deceptive in appearance.
The creamy, chicken liver patrfait within the mandarin jelly shell was rich and meaty, and when spread on the buttery, warm bread, was just heavenly. It was actually quite a substantial starter, and with the offer of bread refills, the dish could be easily be shared amongst 3 or 4 people.
Our 2nd starter was the aptly named Rice & Flesh. The colours of the dish were just beautiful – the vivid yellow of the saffron risotto and the contrasting red “insects”, which were actually curried kangaroo tail with red wine and amaranth. The dish was rich, salty and with the flavourful tender kangaroo, extremely satisfying.
In contrast to the starters, the Powdered Duck Breast main was a subtler dish in terms of flavour. The roasted fennel married well with the ale sauce. The crumbed duck hearts brought crunch and texture of the duck breast was incredibly soft, the skin paper-thin and crisp.
Our 2nd main, the Beef Royale, wasn’t actually on the menu, but after hearing our waiter’s delicious description of the dish, we just had to order it.
The dish consisted of 56 hour slow-cooked beef short ribs, panko crumbed ox tongue that had also been slow-cooked for 45 hours, roasted onion and carrot in a red wine reduction. The beef was marbled and extremely tender and the panko crumbed tongue just melted in the mouth.
To go with our mains, we ordered a side of creamy green beans. We also couldn’t go past the irresistible allure of the Triple Cooked Chips.
The chips are deep fried, cooled and the process repeated twice again at increasing temperatures to obtain an extremely crunchy chip with a soft, fluffy centre. I had definitely never had chips as crunchy as them.
Getting full and towards the end of our dining experience, we decided to finish off the night with one of Heston’s signature desserts, the Tipsy Cake.
The texture of the brioche bread pudding was extremely soft, having absorbed the creamy, brandy sauce. It had a wonderfully sweet and crunchy crust, and the beautifully caramelised spit-roasted pineapple was sweet and juicy.
The last dish we ordered was the Sambocade, a goat’s milk cheesecake with apple, elderflower, poached pear and smoked candied walnuts.
I’m not a big fan of goat’s cheese, so this wasn’t my favourite dish, but the perfectly poached pears, the creaminess of the cake, the apple filling and the walnuts all worked well together.
After our last dish, we were brought a rich, bitter dark chocolate mousse and tasty oat biscuits as a finale to the dinner.
Dining at Heston’s was such a memorable experience. We were extremely happy with the quirky concept, presentation and quality of the food, and also the professional service. It may have been a little costly, but absolutely worthwhile and something you should experience at least once if you’re in Melbourne.