Lunch @ The Fat Duck, Bray

Whether you consider yourself a food lover or not, Heston Blumenthal is a chef name that will you have come across at some point in your life. He's often featured on TV shows like Masterchef Australia, mainly for his attitude towards cooking. Some view him as a mad scientist of sorts as he often concentrates on the scientific aspect of cooking. With all that in mind, it's no wonder his three-michelin star restaurant, The Fat Duck, has people fighting for reservations.

The Fat Duck is based in a small town near London, called Bray. It's quaint and very sweet, you can visit the whole town in practically an hour. Although with that said, it's not the easiest task to spot out The Fat Duck if it's the first time you're visiting.

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As my companion and I step foot into the restaurant, we were handed a map and magnifying glass to help us navigate through our food journey of the day. The whole experience felt like a mixture between the stories of Alice in Wonderland and Sherlock Holmes.

The map given to us was essentially the menu, which guided us through the different themes of the day, and introduced to us the 17 courses that were to come... yes, SEVENTEEN.

Course 1: Aerated Beetroot Macaroon

The "macaroon" vanished as soon as it touched our tongue, and only left us with the flavour of creamy horseradish. A great amuse bouche to quickly help us adjust to the quirkiness of the rest of the menu... Nothing is as it seems.

Course 2: Smoked cumin Royale, Jerusalem artichoke ice cream

A light and refreshing dish which left us guessing what the star flavours were. The artichoke flavour didn't come through as strongly as I would have liked it. 

Course 3: A welcome drink

The creation of this third course was so captivating that I forgot to snap a picture of the actual creation... Guests had the choice of 3 different cocktail flavours. One of which was tailored to the diner's preferences, ours in particular was Vodka with Matcha! The creation was similar to the first course; it was again an one bite wonder which instantly melted in your mouth.

At this point, I got a bit worried I would walk out still hungry, but thankfully the courses to come were a bit more substantial.

Course 4: Hot and cold veloute of rabbit with tarragon and mustard

This was definitely one of the most interesting dishes of the day. As you can see from the photo above, there is a slight colour difference between the left and right side of the glass. The left side of the glass was warm, and the right side was cold. As you took sips of it, it definitely played with your senses. The dish was deliciously savoury.

Course 5: Truffled egg mousse, jellied tomato consomme, bacon and toasted bread cream, cereals

Definitely one of the most playful part of the whole meal. We were instructed to open, and pour the cereal into the "milk". The smokey bacon favour was very pungent, but the jellied tomato consomme lacklustre. Didn't receive the full desired effect of an english breakfast unfortunately, but it was still tasty nonetheless.

Course 6: Sound of the sea

In terms of concept, this was one of the best realised dish; we were offered earphones with the soundtrack of waves crashing out of a conch. The dish was also one of my favourite of the day, It tasted like a mouthful of seawater, but in all the best ways. For a moment, I forgot I was at The Fat Duck, and brought back great memories of me laying by the beach. The sea vegetables paired perfectly with the variety of fish, but perhaps i'm just a sucker for anything that tastes remotely Japanese? Nobu should definitely consider adding this onto their menu!

Course 7: Waldorf salad "rocket". Salmon, avocado, horseradish "Twister", crab and passion fruit "99"

I realised at this point that horseradish seem to be a reoccurring ingredient throughout the menu, but luckily it did not overpower the delicate salmon "lollipop" we were offered. The Waldorf salad tasted strangely like this Chinese Hawberry ice lolly I used to have growing up in China. If this is what salad tastes like, I'll happily have bowlfuls of it.

Course 8: Tailored mini ice-cream cones

It seems the Heston Blumenthal kitchen understood me and my companion's deep love for Matcha, because we were offered green tea, pistachio ice-cream! My two favourite ice-cream flavour combined, it's like a kid's dream come true. My only complaint is that we weren't offered pots of it to go home with afterwards... I would have paid good money for it!

Course 9: Miniature crab and passion fruit ice-cream

This was so small, and was chomped down so quickly that it was also quickly forgotten. I can't seem to remember anything in particular that stood out in terms of flavours.

Course 10: Cornish crab, smoked caviar and golden trout roe, veloute of white chocolate and sea vegetables

The theatrics of this dish matched with the menu and coincided perfectly with the beach theme at this part of the menu, but the white chocolate completely over powered the caviar, and lost the balance of the dish.

Course 11: Mushroom, beet and blackberry, scented with fig leaf, meadowsweet, melilot, oak moss and black truffle

The drastic change of flavours only brought out the earthy tones of this dish even more. At some points I really felt as though I was having soil, and wondered if this was truly edible. The dish definitely emulated the theme of being in the forest, but perhaps too much so?

Course 12: Mock turtle soup and egg, toast sandwich

The light consomme pair with the crunchy texture of the sandwich worked beautifully together. But at this point of the lunch, I realised I have had no idea what I've been eating half the time. The egg looking ingredient in the dish was in fact not egg, I'm still wondering what it was today.

Course 13: Starter: Langoustine lasagna

At this point of our journey, we were finally having our "starter, and main". The starter was definitely my favourite course of the whole day. The delicate langoustine with a lasagna sheet draped on top, dipped in a moorish sauce, kept me going back for more.

Course 14: Main: Duck

Before the main was introduced, we were offered some "crisps" sprinkled with spices that duck would be paired with. The main, was also accompanied by a "duck cigar". Unfortunately this was the only dish of the day that I flat out just did not like, this was particularly disappointing following the langoustine lasagna. The duck cigar was very tasty, and emulated the flavours of duck spring rolls. But unfortunately the actual main of the duck itself tasted very strangely of unrendered fat. 

Course 15: Cheese platter inspired dessert

This is perhaps the most famous dish of the afternoon. For those of you who watch Masterchef Australia, you must recognise this from the finale. The dish was interesting in the aspect that each bite you took was a completely different experience and flavour. The "grapes" tasted like cotton candy, and was a bit too sweet for my taste when eaten alone, but the buttery savoury biscuits help cut through the sweetness.

Course 16: Whisky gums aperitif

These whisky gum aperitif were essentially michelin starred jello shots. I'm not a big fan of whisky myself but the flavours really came through beautifully. It was a subtle way to introduce whiskies to those who are not frequent drinkers. I particularly enjoyed being able to taste the difference in flavours of the whiskies depending on their regions

Course 17: Malt, orange blossom, tonka, milk, meringue, crystallised white chocolate, pistachio

Personally, I preferred this dessert course over the cheese board inspired one. The flavours and texture ticked all the boxes, and was the best way to end the meal.

Extras: Oxchoc, caramel in edible wrapper, queen of hearts jam tart, mandarin scented aerated chocolate

Diners were offered tea and sweets to take home at the end of the meal. It really wrapped up the whole experience brilliantly and made us feel like kids in a sweet shop!

After the meal, we asked to visit the wine cellar and kitchen. The staff were more than welcoming, and in fact I was told that they encourage diners to do this. It was such a thrilling experience watching professional chefs in their element, and watching the kitchen function like a well-oiled machine. It allows you to truly appreciate how much effort and organisation it takes to provide a three michelin start worthy service!

Overall:

This was definitely a once in a life time experience, and everyone should go if the opportunity presents itself. I'm really glad I got to visit The Fat Duck, and although pricy, it's worth it. The whole journey was very much a performance the whole way through. But with that said, I'm not itching to go back anytime soon. The Fat Duck is definitely a restaurant where technique trumps flavour.  


Food: 8/10
Everything was enjoyable with the exception of the duck from the main course, but the flavours did not blow me away as I would have expected at a three Michelin star restaurant.

Service: 10/10
I've never been to a restaurant with better service! Honestly, the staff were all very professional and knowledgeable about the dishes, which is especially important when a restaurant does molecular gastronomy. When asked to explain the mechanism regarding the hot and cold rabbit soup, our waitress was able to explain the technical aspect with great details. It was very impressive!

Atmosphere: 7/10
Although the restaurant was recently renovated, the dining room remained very plain. Perhaps this is to allow the diners to concentrate on the food itself, but it felt a bit sterile.

Wine Pairing: 9/10
We opted for the wine pairing along with the menu to get the full experience of The Fat Duck. The wine offered paired perfectly to each dish. The pairings also showcased a variety of wine from different regions. Personally, I really liked that factor, as it was like a mini wine tasting. With that said, there were definitely some I preferred more than others.