Heston Blumenthal plans to bring his experimental cuisine to the City of London, serving bankers and traders liquid-nitrogen cocktails as well as dishes from his restaurants.
Blumenthal has teamed with Rhubarb, the U.K. company that has been awarded the contract to cater events at 20 Fenchurch Street, a 37-story building that opens in the City next year.
The chef, who holds three Michelin stars at the Fat Duck and one at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, will offer historically inspired creations such as meatfruit -- a chicken-liver parfait that looks like a mandarin orange -- and rice & flesh, an English saffron risotto.
“We’ve been getting more and more requests for events,” Blumenthal said in an interview on July 8. He joked he was “not a control freak at all,” yet it was “really important to team up with a company that we knew.”
For the cocktails, the drinks are mixed with whipped egg and squeezed onto a spoon that is dipped into liquid nitrogen. This creates a thin shell. When you place the concoction in your mouth, it explodes, with a burst of flavor. Varieties include Campari soda, and gin & tonic.
“London’s has just transformed,” he said. “Ten years ago, you wouldn’t think about the City as being a hub of gastronomy. But there are so many places that have opened up now that I’d say there’s a lot of healthy competition. It’s no different from serving food in the West End.”
Blumenthal won’t be involved in the restaurants and bars that Rhubarb will create atop the building, which is scheduled for completion next April. The Sky Garden space, where Blumenthal was speaking during a hard-hat site visit, offers uninterrupted 360-degree views of the capital.
On Level 35, Sky Garden Bar will be open all day -- for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea -- before turning into a Champagne bar with canapes and cocktails in the evening.
Darwin Brasserie will occupy Level 36, serving an international menu inspired by the travels of Charles Darwin. Level 37 will be home to the Fenchurch Seafood Bar & Grill. The restaurants may open just over a year from now.
Blumenthal and his team will work with Rhubarb on special events in the space, which features gardens designed by architects Gillespies and installed by Willerby Landscapes.
“The relationship means that Heston and his development team work exclusively with Rhubarb on a variety of both technical and creative aspects of Rhubarb’s events,” the company said in a release. There will be four events areas, with capacity ranging from 20 to 250 guests. Planners may hire the entire Sky Garden, including the restaurants.
The building, 20 Fenchurch Street, was designed by New York-based Rafael Vinoly Architects. Recent projects include the Cleveland Museum of Art, Battersea Power Station Master Plan, Carrasco (Montevideo) International Airport and Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the Senate. Vinoly was born in Uruguay.
As of June 2013, 56 percent of the building’s space was let, according to joint-venture partners Land Securities Group Plc and Canary Wharf Group Plc. The first letting was with Markel, followed by Kiln Group and Royal & Sun Alliance. Other tenants include Liberty Syndicate Management Ltd. and Liberty Mutual Insurance Europe Ltd., the partners said.
(Richard Vines is the chief food critic for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. He is U.K. and Ireland chairman of the World’s 50 Best Restaurants awards. Opinions expressed are his own.)
Muse highlights include Catherine Hickley on German art, Ryan Sutton in New York restaurants, Greg Evans on TV and Stephanie Green’s Scene in D.C.