Friday, 31 May 2013

The Fat Duck Revisited

Having had the opportunity to eat at The Fat Duck once before on the final day of the a la carte menu being served, 4 years ago, I was happy to again get the chance to visit Bray and this time try the tasting menu.

We really outstayed our welcome this time, leaving at about 5:30, the hoover was out in preparation for the dinner sitting but they were so hospitable, even allowing us a sneak peek into the kitchen on our way out.

We were a group of 6, it was Aymeric's birthday and soon to be Bel's and we went all out and had the wine pairings too.  This is obviously a rare treat kind of a meal and here's what we ate.

Nitro poached aperitifs, gin and tonic for me, vodka and lime sour and campari soda also available, these are little meringues, frozen with liquid nitrogen at your table.  I was the first to try and stupidly expected it to be hot, it was obviously freezing cold and smoke started coming out of my mouth as I chewed, much to the hilarity of the rest of the table, you have to eat it quickly so I couldn't take a pic.

Next up was an amuse of beetroot meringue filled with horseradish cream, it looked like a little whoopie pie.  Tasted exactly as described, very clever and pretty.  Neat little plate too.

Red cabbage gazpacho with pommery grain mustard ice cream was next.  I had this last time and again the flavours are so prominent, it tastes really fresh and clean. 

Then another familiar dish, one we had on our previous trip, jelly of quail crayfish cream, chicken liver parfait, oak moss and truffle toast.  This is the point when dry ice floods over the table bringing with it the aroma of a forest. 

Now for the thing I was most looking forward to trying, the snail porridge with iberico ham and shaved fennel.  The dish Heston is famed for and it was brilliant, look how green it is!

Roasted foie gras next with rhubard, braised kombu and crab biscuit.  This is really, really excellent.

Then came the Mad hatters tea party, exactly as seen on the telly, a little glass cup into which you pour your own water with a pocket watch stock 'teabag' making mock turtle soup, accompanied by a toast sandwich, so beautiful.

Sound of the the sea was next, a little tray of various sashimi fish with sand and sea foam, this was the dish I was most indifferent about, the only one I'd say I actually didn't like.  It's gimmicky, with the sound of waves lapping on the shore played on an mp4 player to each diner, I disliked the textures, the sand is very convincing and quite grainy, I wasn't a fan, but ate it all of course.

The dish that everyone complains hasn't changed in the last 10 years follows, salmon poached in liquorice gel.  I actually quite liked it.  It comes with artichokes, vanilla mayonnaise, grapefruit and trout roe.  Remembering it now, this was actually very good and again I loved the plate.

Another fave on the day was the main course of saddle of venison with beetroot soubise and risotto of spelt and umbles.  It was actually the latter component, served in individual pots that elevated this dish, the soubise was a tad sweet for me but the meat was delicious and the risotto was incredible.

Hot & Iced tea was, as before, a marvel, how do they do it?!  We all pondered that, me loudly, and one of the many waiters told me I was wrong, they always seemed to be listening to what we were saying, perhaps after a few wine pairings, we were louder than we realized, but it felt, at times, as though there were hidden microphones.  Paranoia!  Desserts began with galette of rhubard which was another accomplished and well rounded dish. 

Then came the BFG, I've no doubt previously mentioned that I am not the hugest fan of chocolate combined with fruit, so the rhubarb was much more my kind of pud, but I did enjoy the black forest gateau still.  It's undeniably attractive.

And onto the whiskey wine gums, which are lethal little brutes, I was already tipsy and these are, in varying degrees, laced with whiskies of the world.  I'm not usually a whiskey drinker but the difference in the flavours is remarkable.

Last billed dish is "like a kid in a sweet shop" which is a lovely touch, something you can take away with you to enjoy later, I ate my baccy on the train ride home.  The queen of hearts (pictured top) bakewell tart in playing card form was outstanding, seen below in an envelope, the fudge wrapper was edible and the little chocolate thing was filled with orange.  Loved it all.

We also had cheese and these wines, I was most psyched to try Ch√Ęteauneuf-du-Pape but was slightly miffed that it was a white variety.  Interesting to see Sake on the list too, the wines were all lovely and perfect pairings, naturally.  That's more even than I am qualified to say.

We marveled at the skill and sheer number of components to each dish, such expertise and wizardry, this is exactly what I love about fine dining.  Having visited before, I knew what to expect of course but I wasn't disappointed and I'll never tire of this kind of eating.  I would recommend dining here to anybody who considers him or herself a fan of food, you'll probably still like it even if you don't, oh, and you'll need a spare £400 to hand.

The Fat Duck
High Street

The Fat Duck on Urbanspoon

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