My time at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck Restaurant is one of those never-gonna-forget-it days, though it’s a tricky one to write about because you might want to go there yourself and part of the magic is in the wonderment and surprise of it all.
As a self-confessed lucky cow, I am fortunate to have dined in several Michelin starred restaurants. Before I went I was struggling with the justification of this one – it’s a lot of money for one meal….but I must confess, 2 courses in had me grinning like a Cheshire Cat and taking the ribbing my friends were giving me about my ‘lost morals’ on the chin. Also, there is soooo much attention to detail, breadth of skill, imagination and creative flavour/ texture combinations involved that I feel the costs were justified.
From the minute you enter you get the sense that this is something a bit quirky; we walked from the bright sun outside into a small dim and fully mirrored cupboard-like hallway where we were greeted by one of the very friendly team of staff.
24 small courses of wonderment and WOW ensued and when I left, five and a half hours after arriving (it flew by!) I had been taken on a journey through Heston’s childhood excitement of summer holidays at the beach and in doing so had revisited innocent joys from my own childhood that I had forgotten – the wonder of picking up a shell and hearing the sea, juicy peaches that drip down your arm when you take that first bite, car trips to Nana’s with 4 kids in the back of the Ford Falcon, my stepsisters prickly legs as we were crammed together in the back seat (pre-teen years), running wild all day and only going to find your parents for lunch and dinner, exploring rockpools…..
I have nothing but praise and admiration for team at the Fat Duck, our service was professional and attentive yet playful, the incredibly knowledgeable staff noticed the things that fascinated us and went out of their way to explain elements further when questioned.
If you are lucky enough to be able to go to The Fat Duck, may I offer some advice?
- before you go you receive a questionnaire, fill it out! Be thorough and thoughtful – you will get more from your experience if you do. My friend and I shed a nostalgic tear at one point as our heart strings were pulled.
- Go easy on the bread, it’s awesome but remember you’re in a marathon and not a sprint.
- Our party of 4 shared the 2 wine pairing’s with the meal and it worked well, I think a whole one each and we’d be too hammered at the end to remember what was eaten – we did have a bottle of champers to start though.
- Go to the Toilet – seriously, it’s an experience in itself, check out the glass to the wine area on the way.
- Get someone else to pay for the bill if at all possible, it’s so much less stressful that way. LOL
- When finished, there’s a lovely pub a minute down the road called The Crown (also owned by Heston), gorgeous beer garden out back and perfect for a post-fest tipple.