Chef/Proprietor: Heston Blumenthal
Head Chef: Jonny Lake
Date: 21st Oct 2011
No. 1 2005 World’s 50 Best Restaurant
3 star Michelin
Written by Gareth Sefton @seftonhornwinch
We take our seats and are greeted by the very charming Maitre’D, who sets about explaining the menu. The menu is a set 14 course menu and comes with a choice of two tasting wine menus or a very full wine list. When dining at such restaurants as this, I think its only right to put yourself entirely at the hands of the chef and sommelier, so we choose one of the tasting wine menus.
We are two courses in when we are presented with a trio of lollies. “Everyone is looking at us” my wife whispers “now they’re looking at their menu’s”. The lollies arent on it, we have a special course. This was a great example of how Heston plays with your senses. Your sight tells you these are some of your favourite lollies, but once you bite into them you realise the difference, they are all savory. First is the ‘The Waldorf Rocket’ a red apple ice, a celery green middle topped with a walnut ice. Second the ‘Twister’ a smoked salmon centre wrapped in a twisting horseradish and avocado cream piping and finally the ‘Feast’, a foie gras centre, fig gel with cocoa nib with almonds.
We’re now back on the menu and are greeted with a dish featured in the Heston Feast TV series, the Mad Hatters Tea Party. A bowl arrives with ingredients delicately placed in the bottom of a large tea cup and the waiter opens a case to reveal gold fob watches. These were held by string and then placed into the cup, slowly gold flakes dispersed and a bouillon created. We then poured this into the bowl to form the ‘Mock Turtle Soup’. Served alongside the soup (and again to the surprise of the other guests) a large tiered stand with a selection of sandwiches to complete the Tea Party. These are no ordinary sandwiches though, they are described to us as ‘Toast’ sandwiches. Mrs Beeton published a recipe for them back in 1861, so they are not new. Two layers of soft white bread encase a slice of perfectly browned toast. Between the layers you find mayonnaise, tomato ketchup and mustard and olive paste. I can only explain the taste as being similar to the best burger I have ever tasted, but without the burger, its truly incredible.
The next course is now almost as infamous as the Snail Porridge, “sounds of the sea”. Here the senses are in overdrive. Firstly, SIGHT, a delicately arranged reincarnation of a beach complete with seaweed and edible sand. Presented with a conch shell sporting earphones, you are listening to waves crashing against the shore line SOUND, evoking memories of being sat on a beach. The SMELL coming from the glass plate providing all you need for your mind to believe your sat next to the sea.
Between the savory and sweet courses there is the hot and iced tea. A simple enough looking glass cup with tea in it – yeah right! You bring the cup to your mouth and start to drink, then immediately you sense something different. One half of your mouth gets hot tea and the other ice cold.
To finish the meal we enjoyed Tafferty Tart, from c. 1660 and the BFG (Black Forest Gateaux). Both very flavoursome dishes, the tart very scented and a bit softer and the BFG packing a real punch with the kirsch.
Before you leave you’re presented with a small sweet bag “like a kid in a sweet shop” which is a collection of quite amazing sweets. An edible Queen of Hearts, a white chocolate fully printed playing card with a jam filling, a bag of coconut baccy, a caramel in an edible wrapper and honeycomb chocolate.
One thing is for sure with The Fat Duck, you don’t go there expecting to simply eat. This is so much more, a complete fantasy from start to finish playing with all of your senses. It is impossible to find the words to describe The Fat Duck – it deserves so much more than words. All I do know is that Mrs Sefton was converted in her thinking and found it worth every penny…and more.
The full menu can be viewed at www.thefatduck.co.uk/The-Menus/Tasting-Menu/