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Sunday roast at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is a showstopper for any weekend

Tom Evans

With a name like Heston Blumenthal behind it, it’s no wonder that the chef’s eponymous restaurant has taken so little time in establishing itself as one of Dubai’s bucket list venues, even earning a Michelin star in its first year.

Few can claim to have done more for the global dining scene than Blumenthal, a chef unafraid to push gastronomic boundaries. The restaurant is in Atlantis The Royal, so you might think modernity would be the order of the day in a hotel that would impress James Bond himself. But not Dinner by Heston Blumenthal.

Here, you’re thrust into 14th-century England, once you’ve taken a lift that conjures images of Willy Wonka’s great glass lift, that is.

Excited (and hungry), my dining partner and I sample that most quintessential of British meals, the Sunday roast, recently introduced at this most British of restaurants.

Where to sit and what to expect

Gargoyles carved into the dark-wood-lined entrance makes us feel as though we’ve entered the labyrinth so famously occupied by David Bowie in the iconic 1986 fantasy film. Bringing a theme of Medieval England to Dubai is brave but, not only does it work, it works brilliantly.

The interior is breathtaking. The restaurant’s centrepiece is an enormous ornamental pineapple that operates as a clock for staff and diners, as it folds and unfolds itself every 30 minutes.

The pineapple is key to Blumenthal’s restaurant in many ways, but more of that later.

For now, with my dining partner and I on a table that summons a sense of regality and views that span the Arabian Gulf, it’s time to tuck into the long-awaited Sunday roast.

The menu

This Sunday roast menu is a three-course affair. My dining partner is vegetarian, so opts for the tomato salamagundy to start. This is a dish that originated in 1723 and features compressed tomato, smoked goat curd and lovage oil. It’s a vibrant, light and sophisticated start to the three-course meal.

I opt for the meat fruit, a dish already synonymous with a restaurant that’s been open for little more than a year. Dating back to the early 16th century, it’s a chicken liver parfait beautifully disguised as a mandarin. This is served with plain toast, allowing you to fully appreciate the flavour and complexity of the parfait.

For mains, my dining partner chooses the roast cauliflower with truffle sauce while I order the classic Hereford sirloin with Yorkshire pudding, horseradish cream and beef gravy. Both are exquisite and, although my beef is cooked immaculately, I can’t help finding myself jealous of my partner’s dish. The sign of a good restaurant, no doubt.

That said, we’re both able to enjoy the centrepiece of the main course together: the potato.

Dinner at Heston’s fully embraces the fact that the roast potato is the undisputed king of any Sunday roast. So much so that we’re served a solitary goose fat-roasted potato on its own before the main dish is served, simply to appreciate its magnificence.

For dessert, my dining partner decides on the lemon tart as a refreshing finish to a beautifully curated vegetarian menu. I go for the signature option, tipsy cake. Dating back to 1858, it takes its inspiration from when pineapples first arrived in the English court. It’s a brioche cake served with slices of the fruit that has been roasted on a spit (for us all to see in the open-plan kitchen) for six hours.

It’s as delicious as it sounds but, more importantly, it’s a dessert that’s unique to this truly remarkable restaurant.

A chat with the chef

Dinner by Heston in Dubai is fronted by Tom Allen, the talented chef de cuisine with more than 16 years of culinary experience within Blumenthal’s operation. From Cheltenham, England, Allen learnt his love of cooking from an early age after shadowing his mother in the kitchen and his father in the garden.

His favourite ingredient to cook with is lovage, a herb that’s indigenous to Britain. “This isn’t a common ingredient at all, we happened to come across it while researching historical recipes in the archives,” he says.

“We incorporate the lovage into a dressing for our tomato salamagundy, which we use local tomatoes for. It tastes a little bit like flat-leaf parsley and sweet celeriac. It’s a very delicious herb.”

Allen describes his cooking style as “ingredient-led, authentic, inspired by history, modern and well-balanced. There are three main pillars to my philosophy and approach to food and those are: integrity, discovery and edible history,” he adds.

Other than the dishes we tried, the chef recommends the hay smoked salmon with smoked beetroot and parsley from the Sunday roast menu.

Price point and contact information

The three-course Sunday roast deal costs Dh495 for adults and Dh295 for children under the age of 12. It’s available at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal every Sunday from noon to 3pm.

Courtesy: thenationalnews