Should anyone need reminding how Heston Blumenthal became famous in the first place, a visit to The Fat Duck ought to ram the point home. Although lieutenant Jonny Lake is now charged with the cheffing duties, the Blumenthal register comes through in the astonishing cooking that takes place here. The 14-dish tasting menu is well worth its £195 price tag – and its three-Michelin-starred status – for the roller-coaster ride of thrills it delivers. Every morsel is pure fun, from the first palate-cleansing mouthful of ‘aerated beetroot’ to the goodie bag entitled ‘like a kid in a sweet shop’. In between, there are extraordinary creations including the famed snail porridge and the Mad Hatter’s tea party (a mock turtle soup complete with a fake ‘pocket watch’), as well as a mind-blowing riff on dessert wine and grapes called ‘botrytis cinerea’. Scintillating wine-pairing suggestions add to the pleasure, and spot-on staff know how to effortlessly stage-manage proceedings – allow up to four hours for the whole show. Note that the restaurant will be closing for six months from February 2015, and temporarily relocating to Melbourne, so that major renovations can take place.
Blumenthal opened The Fat Duck in Bray in 1995, initially serving classical French cuisine, but slowly developing the scientific approach for which he is now famous. His individualism paid off with the award of his third star in 2004, the same year he bought the Hind’s Head pub in Bray, where he showcases more traditional British cuisine. He was awarded an OBE in June 2006 for his services to the hospitality industry.