All reader reviews by Simon

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal

I have been extremely fortunate to eat at many Michelin-starred restaurants – unfortunately mainly at my own expense - and many I would return to (notably Le Manoir, St John, and best value of all Turner’s in Harborne, Birmingham). Some I would not return to (let’s not mention names to be polite, although Simpsons in Birmingham did give me the best laugh I’ve ever had in any restaurant), so, given that Dinner must aspire to stardom and I have eaten several times at The Fat Duck (I did return – it is fantastic), I have to admit I will definitely not return to Dinner.

What’s the problem? – well, expectations were stratospheric – even AA Gill gave it 5 stars, but perhaps the clue was Jeremy Clarkson comparing it to a Bugatti Veyron .

The food was good – but not great. Out of 10 courses (4 guests) only the Meat Fruit and (!) mashed potato reached great heights. No, the real issue here is value and confusion between a restaurant and a hotel.

Perhaps we should have known that a glass of champagne in the bar (past Dinner’s reception) has nothing to do with the restaurant and the customer service Dinner (I quote) “aspires to” and was served flat to us (to be fair, we did point out it was flat and it was replaced – but that is not the point).

Perhaps we should have known that on questioning the cost of one glass of champagne on the bill (£35!) we were informed that this was part of the Mandarin Oriental (having had the order taken in the bar area beyond Dinner’s reception but before the restaurant) and that it wasn’t part of the Restaurant. Oh please! Come on guys, this is just not great service nor seamless, nor consistent.

Perhaps, given this is a hotel, we should have been prepared for the “service” station next to our table where the staff used the computer to tap in orders etc.

Perhaps we should have known that the “restrooms” are down labyrinthine passages past rather less than 5* Hotel finishings and scuffed paintwork.

It’s the little things that matter and we felt after handing over £400 underwhelmed. Maybe we’re just too critical, but whilst this is a good (but not great) hotel restaurant charging hotel prices, this is a long, long way from being the best restaurant in the world which, by the professional reviews it would appear to be. It’s not even the best restaurant in the UK (or London) and it certainly isn’t best value for money.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Overall rating 5 stars
Food 8 | Service 6 | Atmosphere 5 | Value for money 2


FishWorks (Richmond)

We went to this Restaurant some time ago and for some reason the review appeared under Chiswick which appears to have closed (I wonder why). It is still - according to their Website run by Mitch Tonks (who did not have the courtesy to respond to my email about this birthday dinner).

Not a good experience: most of the specials (on the board) were not available (as was our 1st choice of wine). The Taramasalata appetizer was miniscule (but only £1.95). The “Fishcakes” - plural - starter was only one Fishcake. The £8.95 scallops was 2 (yes two!) scallops (er £4.45 each!). The Clams starter (£9.90) was a small bowl of small clams (approx 20). The Mussels starter (£7.90) was around 20 mussels (1 or 2 of which were a decent size). The most hilarious event (shades of Basil Fawlty) was when we enquired if we could have the “Breaded Haddock” (£13.90) but without the breadcrumbs. We were then presented with an uncooked piece of Haddock (estimated weight 10oz) and informed that this would be £25.00! Clearly either the breadcrumbs have a negative value or the breaded haddock is frozen (therefore not "serving the freshest and best seafood in town") and probably more likely. Oh! and the Lobster is £50.00 per Kg!

Service was chaotic with, as an example, 2 separate waiters asking us if we want to order within 10 seconds of each other (we had sent the 1st away as we needed some more time to decide). This was one of the most expensive restaurants I have ever been to; for these prices I expect flawless fresh food freshly prepared, flawless service and reasonable portions or the very best of cuisine with smaller portions. They achieved none – hence my scores. Save your money here and go to Bluebird or, even better Rick Steins’s bistro in Padstow. Prices are similar but the food light years away from this nonsense. These guys (and Mitch Tonks) are having a laugh.

Thursday, January 07, 2010
Overall rating 1 stars
Food 2 | Service 1 | Atmosphere 1 | Value for money 1


Fishworks (Chiswick)

I can only agree with the majority of reviews here. Most of the specials (on the board) were not available (as was our 1st choice of wine). The Taramasalata appetizer was miniscule (but only £1.95). The “Fishcakes” - plural - starter was only one Fishcake. The £8.95 scallops was 2 (yes two!) scallops (er £4.45 each!). The Clams starter (£9.90) was a small bowl of small clams (approx 20). The Mussels starter (£7.90) was around 20 mussels (1 or 2 of which were a decent size). The most hilarious event (shades of Basil Fawlty) was when we enquired if we could have the “Breaded Haddock” (£13.90) but without the breadcrumbs. We were then presented with an uncooked piece of Haddock (estimated weight 10oz) and informed that this would be £25.00! Clearly either the breadcrumbs have a negative value or the breaded haddock is not fresh and is pre-prepared (probably more likely). Oh! and the Lobster is £50.00 per Kg. Service was chaotic with, as an example, 2 separate waiters asking us if we want to order within 10 seconds of each other (we had sent the 1st away as we needed some more time to decide). This was one of the most expensive restaurants I have ever been to; for these prices I expect flawless fresh food freshly prepared, flawless service and reasonable portions or the very best of cuisine with smaller portions. They achieved none – hence my scores. Save your money here and go to Bluebird or, even better Rick Steins’s bistro in Padstow. Prices are similar but the food light years away from this nonsense. These guys are having a laugh.

Sunday, September 10, 2006
Overall rating 2 stars
Food 2 | Service 2 | Atmosphere 2 | Value for money 0


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