Berkshire, Bray, The Fat Duck 24/25

The Fat Duck 24/25

FD240

FDint

1 High Street
Bray
Berkshire
SL6 2AQ

Tel: 01628 580333

Website: www.thefatduck.co.uk

Vegetarian: All dietary requests catered for
Parking: Park at Hinds Head opp.
Wheelchairs: OK
Loos: Excellent but upstairs

gold LWL Gold Award – Awarded July 2013 – Cost £250 per head!

At last July 17th arrived! I had been looking forward to this day for a long time… I was being treated to lunch by my son & daughter in law at Heston Blumenthal’s famed 3 Michelin starred restaurant, also voted Best Restaurant in the World in 2005. SA was the 4th member of the party.After a beautifully presented G & T at the Hinds Head (along with The Crown also owned by HB) we excitedly walked over the road to the restaurant. Given its iconic status, The Fat Duck couldn’t be more unassuming – the entrance is discreet and the restaurant simply furnished.The staff are amazing and upon entry we were greeted by every one we encountered. I came to think of them as actors in a long running play; having to deliver their lines (describing the food) over and over but very conscious that their audience were hearing them for the first time and that for most of us it was very special occasion.

It was quite relaxing not to have to make food choices and just be able to sit back, read your tasting menu and anticipate the joys to come. They only serve the tasting menu and at £195 a head it is an expensive pleasure but then we all choose to spend any disposable income differently!

However the 54 page weighty, leather bound wine list was a different matter, it took a lot of perusing!  SA decided on the pairing wines at £139 a head for 8 small glasses so we did think it expensive but decided we would all sample the choices. (I have listed the wines under the dishes.) The four of us also ordered a Pievalta 2011 £50 and a Clos de St Yves 2007 £60 and we drank a lot of water! Actually we all agreed that we had plenty of wine even for 4/5 hours as we were so busy concentrating on the food, we were not, as usual, glugging away! (Doubt glugging is a word that would normally be associated with the Fat Duck!).

Shortly after choosing our wine an amuse bouche arrived, a tiny purple sphere of aerated beetroot with a horseradish cream. We were instructed to place it on our tongues and to eat in one bite, we did just that and realised that this was just the start of lots of wonderful tastes to come. The aerated beetroot disappeared leaving just a touch of bite from the horseradish.

FDamuse1

NITRO POACHED APERITIFS
Vodka and Lime Sour, Gin and Tonic, Tequila and Grapefruit

Our first course was prepared at the table: a spoonful of flavoured egg white swirled around in liquid nitrogen until it turned into a sort of meringue. Between us we tried the three flavours. Again we were instructed to eat it in one bite. They were quickly popped into the mouth and with puffs of smoke rapidly dissolved into a beautiful icy cold shot of cocktail. (Apparently I had puffs of smoke coming down my nose!) The waiter told us it was to clean our palates so we were ready to really taste and enjoy the following dishes.

FD (4) FD (5)
 

RED CABBAGE GAZPACHO  Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream The mustard ice cream was strange, tasted hot, but felt cold. The vivid purple gazpacho was very refreshing.

At this stage the astute waiters noticed that my daughter in law is left handed and so placed the spoon for the next course accordingly. They also quickly picked up that she uses a knife and fork as a right handed person so discreetly changed the lay up again….. very impressive service!

 

FD (6)
JELLY OF QUAIL, CRAYFISH CREAM
Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast(2012 Gruner Veltliner, Von Den Terrassen, Josef Ehmoser, Wagram, Austria)A box full of oak moss was placed in the middle of the table and hot water was poured in activating dry ice allowing its aroma to pour out and over the table throughout this course. On the moss was as a small plastic box containing a thin strip of film to lay on the tongue to release the smells of the forests, earth, truffle and oak. The dish itself was a bowl containing a base of pea, quail jelly, topped with a crayfish cream and a quenelle of chicken parfait. The dish came with a crispy truffle toast finger, it was a delightful accompaniment to each spoonful. In my opinion this dish was outstanding and my favourite!
FD (1)
FD (8) FD (3)
 

SNAIL PORRIDGE
Iberico Bellota Ham, Shaved Fennel(2011 Chateauneuf Du Pape, Clos La Roquete, Rhone Valley, France)
This dish lived up to it’s fame: tender snails in bright green porridge with garlic butter and fennel shavings!

FD (9)
FD (10)  

ROAST FOIE GRAS
Barberry, Braised Kombu and Crab Biscuit(2012 Pinot Gris, Signature, Rene Mure, Alsace, France)The fois gras melted in the mouth and was most probably the best I have tasted. The crab tuile was crisp with an intense crab flavour. Barberry added acidity.

 

MAD HATTER’S TEA PARTY (c.1850)Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast SandwichThis course was very theatrical! We were presented with a book mark with some Alice In Wonderland text and images on it to prepare us. Firstly a glass bowl with the dry ingredients covered in a small glass teapot was placed on the table, then the waiters presented a fob watch of gold leaf. This was placed in the teapot with the hot water. After swirling this around the watch dissolved filling the teapot with a dark consommé. You then poured this in the bowl. The bowl contained a mousse of turnip, enoki mushrooms, cubes of calves cheek and turnip and herbs. This dish was a good example of the attention to detail taken; the level of the consommé coming exactly level with the orange “yolk” island. Also with the dish was an elaborate hat shaped plate with some toast sandwiches. The toast sandwiches with soft bread, crisp toast and beef, mustard and truffle unlike any sandwiches you’d had before. (last photo, pic of beautiful table decoration!)

FD (11)
FD (12) FD (14)
FD (13) FD (15)
FD (16) “SOUND OF THE SEA”
(Junmai Daiginjo Masumi Nanago, Miyasaka Brewery, Nangano Perfecture, Japan)Another big production dish! We were brought large conch shells containing a mini iPod so we could listen to sounds of the sea and let our senses be transported back to happy sea side memories whilst enjoying foam that tasted of the sea and was made from seaweed, “sand” with a salty crunch, and very fresh shashimi. It was all served on a glass lidded box of sand. It looked amazing but at first reminded me of swallowing too much sea water when a child!
 

SALMON POACHED IN A LIQUORICE GEL
Artichokes Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe
(NV Velvet, Weingut Pittnauer, Burgenland, Austria)Liquorice and salmon? A very unusual combination but of course it worked along with the mayonnaise and the artichoke but the highlight was the burst of flavour from the trout roe.

FD17
LAMB WITH CUCUMBER (c.1805)
Green Pepper and Caviar Oil(2008 El Predicador, Benjamin Romeo, Rioja, Spain)

FD (18)

 

This dish was a delight coming in two parts: lamb with cucumber, gravy and a salty caviar purée, the second part was a small glass dish of broth and some fantastic sweetbreads turned into wafers with cubes of tongue and caramelised onion.

FD (19)

HOT AND ICED TEA
A refreshing little palate cleanser with a twist. It looked like a cup of tea, but the right-hand side was hot and the left cold!  How did he do that?
FD (20)
FD 22  

MACERATED STRAWBERRIES
Olive Oil Biscuit, Chamomile and Coriander
Jelly and Ice Cream Cornet
(2006 Leonardo, Marjan Simcic, Goriska Beda, Primorje, Slovenia)The first dessert was based on an English summer picnic, and came in two parts, a lovely little cone of jelly and ice cream to start (pic at bottom of page), then the main dish of macerated strawberries. It came with a shortbread covered in a white chocolate blanket, printed in a vivid red pattern to represent the picnic rug. Very pretty.

FD (23) FD (24)
 

ABOVE…. EGGS IN VERJUS (C.1726), VERJUS IN EGG (C.2013)
(2004 Vinsanto, Sigalas, Santorini, Greece)This looked like a large brown egg and was so realistic that SA declared she hated boiled eggs! It was placed on a bed of golden straw (spun sugar) and orange jelly. It was made of two types of chocolate, the cleverly painted brown shell and an inner shell of white chocolate. Inside white mousse with an orange liquid centre. This was an amazing and fun dessert with delicious chocolate and citrus flavours and very cleverly produced.RIGHT….. WHISK(E)Y WINE GUMS were presented on a map within a wooden frame. They were numbered one to five and we were instructed to eat them in that order. I am not a whisky lover but enjoyed the last one, the Jack Daniels.

FD (25)
FD (26) FD (7)

And finally…. LIKE A KID IN A SWEET SHOP
A pretty candy striped bag of Heston’s idea of sweets. There was coconut baccy, a white chocolate Queen of Hearts playing card in an envelope with an edible seal, apple pie caramel with an edible wrapper and aerated chocolate with mandarin jelly. A lovely treat to take home!

We did think that instead of four sweet courses something savoury to finish would have been welcome and a coffee…. unbelievably coffee and tea were not included. But this was our only negative thought about a meal that was so full of superlatives.

Our visit to the Fat Duck surpassed all our expectations, the food has to be experienced to understand why it is so wonderful. Heston Blumenthal produces amazing flavour combinations, he has a remarkable imagination and is a creative genius!

The service is beyond compare. The waiting staff were attentive yet unobtrusive, friendly yet professional. They seemed to know what you wanted before you even knew you wanted it!

In short the whole experience was marvellous and all true foodies wanting a very special treat will love it.

The scoring: the food and service deserve more than 5/5, we are giving the tasting menu 5/5 because we thought it wonderful but apart from dietary requirements (they seem to do excellent vegetarian alternatives) there is no choice. We are also giving the ambiance and décor 5/5, even though the restaurant is small with simple décor it is beautifully presented.  Value for money is difficult because you are choosing to go there for the whole experience,  we are giving it 4/5 because we felt the tasting wines expensive and coffee was not included! Cost £250 a head

FD (21)

Please help to spread the word by telling any restaurants you visit that you tried them because you were recommended by LWL in Hampshire… Thank you!

Ladies Who Lunch Scoring:

Quality of food 5/5 +
Variety of menu 5/5 +
Staff and service 5/5 +
Ambience & décor 5/5
Value for Money 4/5

 

Total Yummy Factor

24/25

Report: CJ

5/5 = Cannot be improved upon, 4/5 = Very good, 3/5 = Good,
2/5 = Satisfactory, 1/5 = Poor, 0/5 = Terrible

The higher the “Yummy” factor, the better the food & service. The higher the number of £ signs the more expensive. (Roughly one £ sign = £5 per head)