The Fat Duck Review : Close Encounters of the Culinary Kind

Superstar chef Heston Blumenthal’s famous restaurant has been winning plaudits since the late nineties.  Mark Southern found out if he’s been resting on his laurels.

As first published in The Exchange Magazine, 2011

If we’ve learnt anything from sitting next to conspiracy theorists at a dinner party, it’s don’t sit next to conspiracy theorists at a dinner party.  However, if you’ve ever been foolish or unlucky enough to flout this most basic of lessons, you’ll have also learnt that in order to understand the inexplicable, you need to refute such over-rated things as ‘logic’ and ‘sense’, and come to impossible conclusions.

Following this train of thought, the only possible conclusion that we can come to is that, without question and with absolute certainty, Heston Blumenthal is not of this Earth.

There, we’ve said it; Heston Blumenthal is not human.

Sorry, Heston, the secret’s out, and now the only question remaining to be answered is whether there’s a lizard’s body under those chef whites, or maybe just lots of little aliens all standing on each other’s shoulders.  (We hope the latter).

For no mere mortal would have the vision, skill and wit to pull off the world-famous Taster Menu at, what we believe is the best restaurant in the UK, The Fat Duck.

The décor remains surprisingly quaint for such an eminent palace of culinary royalty, with exposed beams and a clean, compact feel.  However, unlike any other restaurant in Britain, the sense of adventure pulsating through the dining room is almost tangible.

TFD1

After being seated, the courses come along one-by-one in fourteen glorious installments.  In fact, ‘installments’ is completely the wrong terminology, instead any description of a night out at The Fat Duck should let the reader know that what they’re in for is ‘fourteen culinary Acts’ to be truly accurate, as Heston’s legendary theatrics make each course a West-End blockbuster in its own right.

To reveal too much about each course is probably a crime on Heston’s home planet, and besides the experience is immeasurably improved by the sheer levels of gleeful surprise the twist and turns will take you on.  However, it wouldn’t spoil it to let on that Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream is simply one of the greatest things that was ever invented, the ‘Sound of the Sea’ needs to be seen (and heard) to be believed, and the BFG aka Black Forest Gateau is probably the best dessert to be had in Europe.

The staff are immaculate, and add an important layer of personality to the magic being created in the kitchen (and at times at the table itself).  Bright, buzzy, but always ultra-professional, they are a genuine asset to proceedings, acting as narrators through Heston’s miraculous creativity.

Heston calls his fabulous blend of science and cooking ‘Molecular Gastronomy’.  We call it perfection from another planet.

 

To see the full magazine article in PDF click here