By Greedy Financier
If you’ve been following the foodie news, you would have heard the recent announcement by Heston Blumenthal – the world renowned chef is bringing his three Michelin starred restaurant, The Fat Duck, to Melbourne next February! To mark this exciting news (and also because I promised several weeks ago), I am finally blogging about the extraordinary dining experience I had at The Fat Duck last September. From the moment my friends and I left our hotel in London for the restaurant, we knew we were in for a treat. The entire night can only be described as a surreal gastronomical journey.
The Fat Duck – Staff Waiting Outside to Greet You
After a nerve wrecking reservation process (it’s a 2 month rolling online reservation system and securing a booking can be quite difficult), 20 hours on a plane to London, and almost 2 hours of travel within London (using the London Tube, the overground and taxi), we finally arrived at The Fat Duck. Waiting outside the restaurant was a staff member who greeted us and took us to our table. Being a converted old English style house, the small restaurant was quite quaint and had a cosy home style feel.
Inside The Fat Duck
To celebrate (because it felt like a celebration!), we decided to start with a glass of Moët Rosé each. At the same time we were presented with an amuse bouche (which wasn’t on the menu so I can’t recall the name exactly) of a beetroot and goats cheese ice cream sphere.
Next up were some aperitifs (formally defined as an alcoholic beverage that is served before a meal), however in true Heston style, these weren’t served as liquids in a glass, but rather foam was pumped out of a canister, mixed with some liquid nitrogen and extinguished by a candle – it was like watching a science experiment!
Nitro Poached Aperitifs – Vodka and Lime Sour, Campari Soda, Tequila and Grapefruit
The first real course of the night was a very pretty looking cabbage soup. The use of red cabbage gave this visually appealing deep purple colour. Sitting in the centre was a perfectly quenelled scoop of mustard ice cream – which surprisingly wasn’t overpowering and went superbly with the refreshing cabbage soup.
Red Cabbage Gazpacho – Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream
The next course was one of my favourite (of many!). I love parfait and I love truffle. So when you combine the two into one dish, you get a marriage made in heaven. There were three separate components to this dish – truffle toast (which was packed with truffle!), crayfish cream with chicken liver parfait (which was silky and divine!) and a thin film (over which a mist of oak moss scent was poured over).
Jelly of Quail, Crayfish Cream – Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
Heston’s signature dish is his famous snail porridge. Although not a particularly attractive looking or sounding dish, especially with its bright green colour and use of snails, it was actually quite pleasant. Surprisingly, it wasn’t overly slimy, and I found myself relishing the meal within a few spoonfuls.
Snail Porridge – Iberico Bellota Ham, Shaved Fennel
Just when I thought I had had enough of smooth processed offal, out came a pretty piece of foie gras. A side dollop of tart gooseberry coulis helped to cut through the luscious richness of the roast foie gras, and with each mouthful, I felt like I was sinking deeper into a bed full of soft pillows.
Roast Foie Gras – Gooseberry, Confit Kombu and Crab Biscuit
The next course took us to an enchanted place – we felt like we were being entertained at a real Mad Hatter’s tea party! We were presented with a box containing edible gold ‘watch’ teabags which were to be soaked in hot water to create a broth to pour over the cutest looking egg with little mushrooms ‘growing’ out of it - resulting in a mock turtle soup. This was accompanied by delicious salmon sandwiches served on a ‘hat’ stand.
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast Sandwich
The most highly anticipated dish of the night was up next. I had heard so much about this dish and was silently screaming in my seat when a large seashell containing an iPod was placed next to me. Listening to the sounds of waves and seagulls, we ate our beach lookalike dish which consisted of tapioca and sardine sand, seaweed and vegetable stock foam and raw kingfish belly and abalone. Believe it or not, the sounds of the sea enhanced the sea like flavour of the dish!
“Sound of the Sea” – Junmai Daiginjo Masumi Nanago, Miyasaka Brewery, Nagano Prefecture
The salmon course that followed wasn’t as theatrical as some of the previous dishes; however, it was just as scrumptious. I was worried that the inclusion of liquorice would overpower the fish, but the perfectly poached salmon tasted simply beautiful.
Salmon Poached in a Liquorice Gel – Artichokes, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe
The final main course for the night was a robust lamb dish consisting of three complementary parts. The first was a plate of impeccably cooked lamb accompanied by some chunks of tasty warm cucumber. Sitting next to this on a sideboard was some pieces of delicious diced lamb with what tasted like deep fried lamb skin, and a bowl of a jelly-like substance. When combined together, this course was a flawless balance of flavours and textures.
Lamb with Cucumber – Green Pepper and Caviar Oil
To prepare us for the dessert courses, we were presented with some tea. However, this was no ordinary tea – the tea was both hot and cold, at the same time. I’m not a chemist, so don’t know how this works, however, when the tea was sipped, we experienced both hot and cold sensations!
Hot & Iced Tea
The first dessert course was in two parts. One component consisted of some mini tea flavoured ice cream cones. Supplementing this was a dessert that looked like vinyl or plastic! A plaid patterned piece of what turned out to be actually white chocolate, sat atop a wonderful mixture of clove caramelised blackberries and a crunchy assortment of nuts and pieces (I wasn’t sure what the pieces were!). It was like eating berries, cookies and cream!
Clove Caramelised Blackberries – Hojicha Tea Ice Cream Cornet
The next dessert was my favourite dish of the night. The name on the menu didn’t give much away and we weren’t sure what to expect. Then out came what looked like a hard-boiled egg sitting on top of a gold nest. At this point, we still weren’t sure what to expect. Then we cracked open the egg exposing the egg white and a runny yolk! Cautiously tasting the egg, I was completely and utterly blown away – this dessert was actually a lemon tart!! A white chocolate egg shell encompassing a cream egg white and lemon curd yolk sitting atop a gold pastry nest! It was pure genius.
Eggs in Verjus, Verjus in Egg
The next course was the start of our petit fours. A picture frame with five bottle shaped lollies adhered to the surface was placed in front of each of us. Unfortunately, the frames weren’t edible, but the little bottles were. We were instructed to taste the whiskey flavoured lollies in consecutive order, as they increased in strength as we went along. If you love whiskey, then you would adore this dish!
Whisk(e)y Wine Gums
And the final course for the night was a bag full of treats! True to the name on the menu – we literally felt like kids in a candy shop! Excitedly we opened our bags to discover four different types of lollies including aerated chocolate with mandarin jelly, coconut baccy (coconut infused with an aroma of black Cavendish tobacco), apple pie caramel with an edible wrapper and a strawberry tart in the form of a Queen of Hearts card.
“Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop”
Of the four lollies, the Queen of Hearts strawberry tart deserves a special mention. Opening our envelopes we found what appeared to be a Queen of Hearts card. Taking a bite into the card, we were pleasantly surprised – the innards contained a thin layer of pastry biscuit and jam, all coated in a film of white chocolate.
The Queen of Hearts – She Made Some Tarts…
The Fat Duck is unlike any restaurant I’ve ever been to. I was left feeling satisfied, bewildered and privileged. Every aspect, from the service to the food, was exceptional, and is truly a unique dining experience. The Fat Duck has been awarded three Michelin stars, defined as “worth a special journey” – and it certainly is worthy of a trip across the world.
The Fat Duck, Bray, Berkshire, United Kingdom
Lunch: Tuesday to Saturday 12.00pm – 1.30pm
Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday 7.00pm – 8.30pm
Ph: +44(0) 1628 580 333
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