Like many Foodies down under, we were not lucky enough to secure reservations at the Fat Duck when Chef Heston Blumenthal did a pop up in Melbourne. But when news broke that he was opening a sister restaurant to their Dinner by Heston in Melbourne’s Crown – we jumped at the opportunity and made reservations for my latest trip to Melbourne.
Like the Fat Duck pop up, Dinner by Heston is situated inside Crown Towers. Navigating our way in the Crown Complex was far more complicated than anticipated and after a good walk around the complex, we managed to locate the restaurant through a dark corridor that magically opened up to the entrance. We walk alongside a glass wall where we can see into the kitchen and then in-between mossy green chairs, dark wooden table and gorgeous leather banquettes to our table facing the Yarra River.
Our meal began with complimentary sour dough served with butter. We felt it was mandatory to order one of Heston’s most popular dish, the Meat Fruit. A creamy blend of chicken liver parfait, coated with a thin gel of citrus, this beauty was crafted in the form of a realistic looking mandarin. This was served with toasted bread which the waiter happily replenished. We appreciated the visual aspect of this dish and the taste was delectable but it just didn’t “whoa” us.
The Marrowbone was a combination of bone marrow, escargot, parsley, anchovy and mace, neatly presented inside a portion of bone. The richness of the ingredients in the marrow meant that pairing with a side of pickled vegetables would have subtly cut the fat. Sadly, the accompanying vegetable was lacking the vinegary tang.
For main, my dining companion opted for the slow cooked pork belly with spelt, baby turnip and lardo. The skin on the pork was sensational and the cut of belly had a perfect layer of fat followed by a layer of meat then another layer of fat and so on. It gave the pork a rich flavour and amazing texture.
If you come to Dinner by Heston expecting a Fat Duck theatrical meal, you will be disappointed. Food was fantastic, don’t get me wrong. But we went in with such high hopes and sadly, we were not blown away. We did appreciate the flawless dining service. There was no push to keep ordering alcohol, our water was topped up frequently and everyone that served us had a wonderful smile and one particular waiter was witty and friendly. The vibe of the restaurant was not pretentious and we felt quite comfortable talking in our usual volume and genuinely having a good time without the fear of being judged. All in all, it was a great night out.
Dinner by Heston | Crown Towers, Level 3, 8 Whitman Street, Southbank