>> Feb 6, 2011
Facts about The Fat Duck:
1. Best restaurant in the (world) 2005, currently rank 3rd (in the world)
2. Best restaurant in the UK (2007-2010).
3. 3 Michelin Stars since 2004.
4. Most expensive restaurant in the UK.
5. Only serves 45 guests per seating.
6. There is more servers + chefs in the restaurant compared to diners.
Facts about Heston Blumenthal:
1. Self taught chef.
2. Molecular gastronomist.
3. Some describe him as a Mad food scientist but I personally feel that he's a genius in his own sense.
4. Owner of The Fat Duck, Dinner (at Mandarin Oriental), The Crown and The Hinds Head.
The Fat Duck is situated about 25miles West of London. One could either drive there or take a train to Maidenhead station and catch a cab from there. As my brother was working, we had to take the train. Personally, I am willing to go out of the way for good food. So no complains there.
Maidenhead Train Station
We arrived a half hour before seven. As the servers were being briefed inside, we decided to walk around. As it was rather dark and there wasn't much to see, we finally went in at 6.55pm.
Service as expected, was top notch. There were 3 servers to take our coats and bags. They were also thoughtful enough to seat us at the brightest table after seeing me pull out my camera (or it could be a coincidence).
Upon being seated, we were shown the menu (there is only the tasting menu), and told to inform them on what we couldn't eat or any food allergies. We were then shown a wine list that was so thick (3 inches at least) I was pretty certain it'll give anyone a concussion if I threw it at them. Anyway, none of us had any allergies so we told them to bring it on.
There were 14 courses to the menu. I shall elaborate on each individually.
1st course: Nitro Poached Aperitifs
A choice of the preferred alcohol is aerated into a foamy mixture, bathed in liquid nitrogen and then powder with its accompanying condiment. I chose Campari Soda and raspberry. What a way to serve an aperitif huh?
Aperitif: Alcoholic drink to be taken before a meal.
Campari Soda and Raspberry Aperitif
Campari: an Italian alcohol usually used in aperitifs, served with soda water in a cocktail.
Unsalted and unpasteurised butter served with a choice of brown or white sour dough:
The best part of the bread was the crusty end bits. The butter was extremely creamy and had a very nice butter flavour. If only I could get such butter everyday, getting fat would be worth it then.
2nd course: Red Cabbage Gazpacho
The red cabbage gazpacho with Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream somehow went well together. Surprisingly, mustard ice-cream tastes very good on its own. The slight sourness from the cabbage soup was a nice balance to the ice-cream. It certainly tasted better than it look.
3rd course: Jelly of Quail, Crayfish Cream, Chicken Liver Parfait, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
We started by taking a film each and placing it on our tongue. It had a mild woody taste to it. Next came the truffle toast, and the quail jelly.
Jelly of Quail, Crayfish Cream and Pea Puree
The bowl was layered so perfectly. The way to savour the dish was to take a bit of everything and eating it and then taking a bite of the truffle toast. The truffle toast tasted darn good. How I wished it was bigger. The content of the bowl tasted nice and was extremely rich. The flavours were bold, and when eaten with the toast, matched perfectly. Only trouble was, I ran out of toast before I could finish the bowl. 3 thumbs up to this dish.
4th course: Snail Porridge
Snail porridge is actually a signature dish of The Fat Duck. The porridge was serve with Iberico Bellota Ham and Shaved Fennel. The porridge is actually made up of oats, and its green base is actually concentrated parleys mixed with butter. The snails were extremely tender. Whoever said it was chewy is clearly mistaken. It had a nice bite to it but I assure you, it was far from being chewy. Somehow, the porridge tasted very good. I personally felt there was too much fennel compared to the amount of porridge given.
Iberico Bellota Ham: is cured ham from Black Iberian Pig that roam the oak forest.
5th course: Roast Foie Gras
The Foie Gras was served with Rhubarb, Braised KonbuTastewise, it was possibly the best Foie Gras I've ever eaten. The Foie Gras came in perfectly sliced pieces sandwiching the fragile biscuits. Taking it with the rhubarb jam was just incredible. This was probably one of the best dish we had that night.
6th course: Mock Turtle Soup aka Mad Hatter Tea
If you've watched Alice in Wonderland, you'll know that the Mad Hatter had a tea party where he took his watch and stirred it into a cup to make tea. Well, now you know where Heston got the inspiration for this dish from.
The yellow turtle egg is actually a turnip mousse topped with sweet yellow gel on top. On its side, is a nice small chunk of meat. The watch is served with a cup of hot water, where the watch is stirred into to form a soup base. The soup is then poured over the other ingredients in the plate.
It tasted a little weird, but it was pleasant. The nice chunk of meat was probably the most enjoyable part of the soup. Top marks for presentation. Its taste didn't quite cut it for me. It wasn't mind blowing as expected of The Fat Duck, but it wasn't bad either.
Video of Heston making the Mad Hatter Tea:
7th course: Sound of the Sea
Another of Heston's specialty. The servers brought out a sea shell each for us. We were told to put the head phones before being served the actual dish.
As can be seen above, each shell was stuffed with an ipod shuffle, playing the sound of the sea. If you want to hear the actual sound, watch the youtube video below.
We were told to tuck in, and the server will come explain the dish after the meal. The sand is actually made up of tapioca flour and crispy fried eel. From bottom to top, a slice of yellow tail, halibut and yellow tail.
A quote by Heston: "We ate an oyster while listening to the sea and it tastedstronger and saltier than when we ate it while listening tobarnyard noises, for example."
Sound we heard on the ipod:
8th course: Salmon Poached in Liquorice Gel
9th course: Saddle of Venison served with Risotto of Spelt and Umbles, Black Truffle
10th course: Hot and Iced Tea
11th course: Galette of Rhubarb
The rhubarb galette was amazing. The lightly scented neroli yoghurt gave it a nice balance to the semi-sourish taste of the rhubarb. The sorbet was a nice touch to the dish as well. The thinly slice rhubarb was a nice finish to the dish. I am still amazed at the delicacy of that thin slice of rhubarb. I won't be surprise if a ham slicer was used to achieve such thinness.
12th course: The BFG
Just when I thought I've had the best dessert in London so far, we were served the Black Forest Gateau. Correct me if I'm wrong, Heston and his team took 1 1/2 years of hard effort to create this dish. Upon serving it, Kirsch perfume was spray around the table. It was a perfect black forest cake. The whole cake was a masterpiece. The only fault I could find was that artificial cherry on top which was solely for the sake of presentation. I seriously hate artificial cherries. Then again, no black forest would be complete without a cherry on top eh?
13th course: Whisk[E]y Gum
14th course: Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop
1. Aerated Chocolate
2. Coconut Baccy
Frankly, I couldn't quite appreciate this dish. It tasted of dried up coconut with a slightly weird after taste.
3. Apple Pie Caramel with Edible Wrapper
4. The Queen of Hearts
All in all, The Fat Duck was an incredible experience. People say that the food at The Fat Duck is unique but weird in taste. I beg to differ. I felt that every dish was a master piece on its own. The unconventional flavours somehow formed a medley with each other, enabling every dish to taste remarkable. There is also such emphasis on every single detail (major and both minor). One can be assured of a wonderful experience at The Fat Duck. Do allocate 4 hours for the tasting menu.
Note: My 2nd visit to the toilet was such a shame. I can't imagine how people dining at The Fat Duck can mess up the toilet so badly that it would put my dog's kennel to shame. These guest should learn to respect the toilet man. I personally wouldn't blame The Fat Duck for that horrible toilet experience as I saw a staff cleaning up the toilet before my 1st visit. They can't control what irresponsible patrons do in and to the toilets.
To make a reservation, do call exactly 2 months in advance. They do not take reservations more than 2 months ahead of time and spaces tend to get taken up immediately when the reservation lines are open (10am-5pm).
*Opinions expressed are solely based on my personal experience
Map to The Fat Duck
Nearest Train Station: Maidenhead
The Fat Duck,
SL6 2AQ Berkshire,
Telephone number: +44 (0) 1628 580 333
Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday 7pm-9.30pm (last order)
Close on Sunday and Monday