The Fat Duck Restaurant Review, Bray, UK
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The Fat Duck
1 High Street
Bray, London, UK, SL6 2AQ, CA
+44 (0) 1628 580 333
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Heston Blumenthal is the chef-owner of the legendary Fat Duck restaurant. He is known as a molecular gastronomy culinary alchemist with an imaginative sense of food. He is always refining his recipes, inventing new creations, and trying to enhance the dining experience. Blumenthal has produced several television programs. Since the restaurant’s opening in 1995, it has consistently been rated as one of the top restaurants in the world, usually coming in #2 to El Bulli in Spain. This restaurant has 3 Michelin stars.
The Fat Duck restaurant is located about an hour outside of London, and is not far from Windsor Castle. We took a train and a cab to get here. Reservations are made 2 calendar months in advance. We had to wake up at 2am PT, redial for hours, to score a table. This shows how bad we wanted to experience The Fat Duck. The Tasting Menu (£130) was the only option available, a cheaper a la carte menu is available from time to time. We had a normal meal along with others with special items not on the menu. Meals here take a while, there are long pauses between courses, leading to a long four hour culinary journey. Check those train schedules back to London.. Fat Duck Menus change seasonally.
Decor, Vibe – Unassuming two story former pub building houses The Fat Duck. Bray is a small, sleepy town in the countryside, with lots of traffic passing through. It is also home to another 3 star Michelin restaurant, The Waterside Inn. The low key interior has some long paintings, exposed wood beams, low ceilings, rustic fireplaces. Their bathroom has their home made soap and lotion. Dining times are staggered as they can only serve so many tables at once. The restaurant was mostly full with some locals but mostly tourists from other areas.
Fat Duck Menu Pictures (Click to zoom into any picture)
Nostalgia Foods Philosophy
Fat Duck Menu Cover
Tasting menu Wines
Extensive Wine List
Wines by the glass List
Amuse Bouche – Olives
Ready for Nitro Cooking
Nitro Cooking Video
LIME GROVE – Nitro Poached Green Tea and Lime Mousse – The theatrics began right away with ‘cooking’ or freezing the mousse with -320°F liquid nitrogen inside an ice bucket. A scent is sprayed in the air. It is quickly plated, covered with some grean tea power, and you munch it. Your mouth feels really cold and tastes a quickly dissolving sour ball. It is so light, its like eating flavor. Shockingly refreshing. One of us even had smoke coming out our nose!
Two kinds of welsh unpasteurized butter, salted and unsalted. We rarely encounter unpasteurized in the US, but is thick and more flavorful.
RED CABBAGE GAZPACHO – Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream – We love savory ice cream like Bi-Rite’s legendary salted caramel. A totally different dish, with a small potent flavor from the gazpacho and a lite subtle flavor from the ice cream. Another refreshing starter.
One of us had a more traditional cold Green Gazpacho with truffles.
Oak Fat Duck Film
Jelly of Quail Video
JELLY OF QUAIL, CREAM OF CRAYFISH – Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss, and Truffle Toast (Homage to Alain Chapel) – The show began with some dry ice causing fog to form over the Fat Duck Films. Wow, the parfait tasted pretty repulsive. The crazy combination of diverse flavors did not work for me at all. The strong gravy-like flavors were too much. The more neutral truffle toast was much better. The ‘mint film’ dispenser had some Fat Duck Film with essence of oak. Cool!
ROAST FOIE GRAS – Gooseberry, Braised Konbu and Crab Biscuit – Finally a more traditional dish. Excellent smooth Foie especially when combined with the fruity accents.
Cauliflower Risotto with beets and dried mushrooms – Was an auxilary dish. A twist on a classic. Very heavy dish with lots of vegetable flavors.
Mock Turtle Soup Video
Gold Watch waiting for hot water
MOCK TURTLE SOUP (c.1850) “Mad Hatter Tea” – You first dissolve the gold crusted watch ‘tea bag’ (with dried consomme) in a lite soy sauce-like tea and stir it up. Then pour this ‘tea’ into your dish. This is one fun meal! Jelly-like turnip and swede mound with tiny enoki mushrooms, cucmber, truffles, Ox tongue and lardo catepillar. It tastes like nothing we’ve had before, but this is definitely an Alice in Wonderland ‘E-ticket’ ride. You can make this at home.. Recipe
iPod Shuffle in a shell
“SOUND OF THE SEA” – A legendary signature dish where you wear headphones attached to an iPod shuffle playing the sounds of a sea shore. The dish had several very fresh cuts of sashimi (yellowfin, halibut, mackerel) along with seaweed, sand (crunchy tapioca, breadcrumbs, oils), foam. Not the best fish in the world, but definitely one we will never forget.
From manchester news: “I did a series of tests with Charles Spence at Oxford University three years ago, which revealed that sound can really enhance the sense of taste,”
SALMON POACHED IN LIQUORICE – Artichokes, Vanilla Mayonnaise, Golden Trout Roe, and Manni Olive Oil looked like a dark hunk of scariness. The salmon was flaky, delicious, and tasted ‘normal’ and not like how it looked. Little bits of grapefruit were scattered about. The fish, mayo, roe, and grapefruit made one very unique combo when eaten together.
Braised Pork Belly with savoy cabbage, lardo from Colonnato, and Pearled Spelt was another switch back to reality. Strong richly flavored, soft, and chewy meat and fat with a real savory gravy. We would have prefered it if flavors and the amount of fat was toned down.
Roast Turbot with artichokes, morel Mushroom Carpaccio, Jelly of Verjus Turbot and Langoustine Royale was another traditional dish. It was cooked correctly and was tender and flaky proving he can also cook a mainstream meal. The foam was a really complicated concoction that highlighted the turbot.
POWDERED ANJOU PIGEON (c.1720) – Blood Pudding and Confit of Umbles (Edible entrails) was another very good dish. The pieces were small and boney. Cooked to a rare, the foam added a strong slightly sweet taste. The umbles were not a big deal. The blood pudding was really rich and strong.
TAFFETY TART (c1660) – On to dessert. Caramelized Apple, Fennel, Rose and Candied Lemon is a classic old recipe served with a zesty currant sorbet. The tart was pretty sweet and hard to chop without destroying. It also had a nice crunch to it. One fun dessert.
THE NOT-SO-FULL ENGLISH BREAKFAST – Parsnip Cereal – Signalled it was time for some more fun. The parsnip cereal looked like corn flakes and were eaten with milk. Yes they still tasted like vegetables for breakfast. Another weird dish.
Nitro Scrambled Egg Video
Nitro-Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream – Time to cook magical bacon flavored eggs in liquid nitrogen. A custard was created and set on a piece of bacon and a chunk of heavily carmelized french toast. Again, weird but fun.
Strawberry Sorbet with fresh strawberries and black olive puree was mostly normal but the olives seem out of place.
Hot & Iced Tea was a layered hot and cold tea with honey. Fun, but one weird drink.
Wine Slush Information
CHOCOLATE WINE “SLUSH” (c.1660) – Millionaire Shortbread – Another really old recipe that was an aphrodisiac. The slush was a nice cold blended treat with strong wine.
The shortbread with carmel, chocolate was nice, very dark and strong.
WINE GUMS – Historic Trade Routes of Britain – History lesson and dessert. Very inventive with different tastes of wine inside each gummy bear-like sweet candy. Just enough liquor to get flavor hint.
Nice Sweet Shop Bag
“LIKE A KID IN A SWEET SHOP” – A big bag of sweets to bring home. Not ordinary sweets of course. Aerated Chocolate with mandarin jelly.
Coconut Baccy – Coconut infused with black cavendish tobacco. Apple Pie Caramel with an edible wrapper.
Queen of Hearts – white chocolate with fruit compote.
The Fat Duck Restaurant had a professional and very knowledgeable staff that performed a ton of explanations and silverware changes. Service was very good but not outstanding. It was hard to understand some of the staff due to heavy foreign accents. The experience is what makes Fat Duck stand out as it is a unique journey we’ll never forget. We cannot say The Fat Duck had the best food we’ve ever eaten, as all the food was so different or WeIrD.
Would we recommend Fat Duck? Yes, but only to foodies who would enjoy such an experience. Now that we have made the pilgramage, we can move on and need not revisit. The place is extremely inventive, but to the point of some calling it gimmicky. Heston Blumenthal has definitely mastered molecular gastronomy.
Extensive 50 page wine list with wide variety and high markup, glasses from £12. Wine pairings available from £ 90 to 195. French Bordeaux Perrus 1989 £6950! They take reservations 2 calendar months to the date, so wake up VERY EARLY in the US to call. 12.5% discretionary gratuity added.
2010 will see a new Fat Duck London outpost serving classic dishes requiring less preparation. This Fat Duck Restaurant will be located at London’s Mandarin Oriental hotel. If you visit Fat Duck, be sure to dine at the superb Gordon Ramsay on Hospital Road.
Filed under: $$$$, 3.5 stars, Dine Again?, Europe Restaurant Reviews, International, London Restaurant Reviews, Maybe Again, Other Cuisine, Restaurant Cost, Restaurant Cuisine, Restaurant Location, Restaurant Rating, Restaurant Review | Tags: Bray, Foodie Must, Heston Blumenthal, London, Michelin Guide, Molecular Gastronomy, Three Michelin Stars
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