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Relax, This Isn’t a Cake, It’s Just Meat Fruit

Dinner by Heston Blumenthal — of which Heston Blumenthal has no ownership — puts its trompe-l’œil dish in a takeaway box

Meat fruit at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal Dinner by Heston [Official Photo]

Welcome back to Insta Stories, a column examining the London restaurant scene through the often-problematic medium of Instagram. This week’s filter is unexpected.

News of the week

In 2013, the idea of a restaurant as complex and sophisticated as Chicago’s three-Michelin-starred Alinea offering food to go was so outlandish that it became the subject of a viral parody video. Fast-forward seven years and one paradigm-shifting global pandemic and, uh, Alinea doing takeaway doesn’t seem so unlikely any more. So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that one of London’s iconic trompe-l’œil dishes now comes in a takeaway box, as two-Michelin-starred Knightsbridge restaurant with Heston Blumenthal’s name on it Dinner by Heston gets involved with its meat fruit.

It’s a sign of quite how much COVID-19 has upended previous business models that the restaurant behind a dish that takes 15 hours to make and often leads to photo opportunities is willing to sacrifice dining room atmosphere for a slice of the Knightsbridge clientele’s domestic dinner budget; it’s a sign, too, of how every part of the industry is having to respond to its own set of challenges.

New venture of the week

Time to update the dictionary: introducing pivot-olenghi.

Renaissance of the week

Whilst many of London’s restaurants have now opened in at least some capacity, many remain understandably laser-focused on keeping their operations running as safely and efficiently as possible, reducing food waste, excessive interactions with customers, and unnecessary (and potentially expensive) busywork. In some of them, this has meant the (re)introduction of the set menu – a phenomenon that has historically been far more popular in parts of mainland Europe, where the menú del día and menu fixe have long been a dependable lunchtime option. To start off with, it will definitely feel a little odd to see OG blackboard menu destinations like Westerns Laundry and 40 Maltby Street switch to this new (old) model – almost as odd, perhaps, as P Franco’s rebirth as somewhere offering reservations. But if a tiny bit less flexibility is the only price to pay to ensure the survival of three of London’s most cherished modern institutions, it’s got to be one well worth paying.

Bright idea of the week

Don’t call it (or anything) the ‘new normal’, but a London in which more chairs and tables are placed outside so people can enjoy the best of our occasionally capricious weather seems like quite a nice one.

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Sunday Roast at The French.

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This is Summer in Soho of 2020

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Cold things of the week

Speaking of which: the forecast for Friday continues to spiral upwards from the pleasant mid-20s to the mildly clammy late-20s – keep these on hand as emotional support for when things hit the genuinely uncomfortable 30s.

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Great joy from box of little lollies

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Black currant

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Aggressive pricing of the week

Seems pretty steep, no?

Dish of the week

*Hastily tucks napkin under chin*

Shot of the week

Certainly puts carrot sticks and hummus to shame.