The Fat Duck 4444

1 High Street, Bray , Maidenhead, SL6 2AQ

10 reviews

275 French British Berkshire

  • Fat Duck
  • The Fat Duck Heston Blumenthal restaurant Bray
  • The Fat Duck Bray restaurant Heston Blumenthal
  • The Fat Duck Heston Blumenthal restaurant Bray
  • The Fat Duck Heston Blumenthal restaurant Bray
  • The Fat Duck Bray restaurant Heston Blumenthal
  • The Fat Duck Bray restaurant Heston Blumenthal

SquareMeal Review of The Fat Duck

Hall of Fame “Food as entertainment – unsurpassable”, sums up readers’ reaction to Heston Blumenthal’s expensively refurbished three-Michelin-starred wonderland. Talking of expense, prospective diners currently have to shell out £275 up front for a chance to sample the 17-course extravaganza (and that‘s before fabulous wine pairings are factored into the package). In return, the lucky ones are whisked away on an imagined day out, the perfect childhood holiday trip with “incredibly well-trained staff” acting as grown-up guides. The menu is more like an itinerary, a timetable that actually begins ‘the day before we go’ and ends with ’bedtime’ – all accompanied by props, jokes and theatrical wizardry. In between, ‘breakfast time’ comes complete with fun-pack cereal boxes, ‘if you go down to the woods’ involves a mushroom truffle ‘log’ with beetroot, blackcurrant jelly, lovage purée and other zany additions, while ‘counting sheep’ sees a meringue resting on a pillow floating above the table thanks to magnetic levitation. You’ll also be treated to the original ‘sound of the sea’ and some equally stunning dishes retrieved from the restaurant’s archives (a perfect cube containing glossy coq au vin with red wine mayo and a crunchy chicken’s foot, for example). It’s not only “a truly mesmerising experience, but also terrific fun”. Of course, such an immersive, multisensory holiday fantasy always produces extreme reactions: one diner thought it was as “mad as a box of frogs”; another came away “feeling quite wondrous” – either way, it’s a must-do, once-in-a-lifetime trip. 



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8.9

Food & Drink: 9.1

Service: 9.0

Atmosphere: 8.1

Value: 6.0

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

Rebecca L. gold reviewer 26 April 2017

I would describe an evening at the Fat Duck as a unique and exceptional experience with food rather than a delicious dinner at a 3 Michelin star restaurant. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone planning on going so I won’t go into too much detail. But it’s not just about food and taste. There’s a lot of personalisation to the meal. You receive correspondence prior to your visit asking you questions about your party which are woven in to your visit. You can take things away with you that aren’t food. There’s props and theatrics. There’s a story with a beginning, middle and an end. It truly is a mesmerising experience and most importantly terrifically fun! The staff add to the experience, are exceptional and incredibly well trained. It’s not faultless by any stretch. I was seriously annoyed when we arrived on time to be asked to wait outside (in the rain!) for 5 minutes whilst they got the dining room ready. But it doesn’t surprise me with hindsight. You’re not going to have your typical Michelin star meal, you’re going for the experience and the experience wasn’t ready yet when I arrived. I left feeling really quite wondrous and unsure what to think. If you can afford it, I would wholeheartedly recommend you go and it is certainly something I’ll remember for the rest of my life. But was it the best meal of my life? Did I taste a dish and think it was divine, the best thing I’d eaten? Would any of it form part of my death row meal? Definitely not. And that’s not a criticism.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 5.0

BoatLady platinum reviewer 04 May 2014

Lunch at the Fat Duck may have been the most expensive meal of my life, but it was without a shadow of a doubt the best and I'd encourage anyone and everyone to go given half a chance because only the most incredibly jaded person wouldn't love it. You have to smile when presented with what looks a like a pocket watch, when you swirl it in a clear teapot like a teabag only to see edible gold flake off and it turn into a beautiful beef consomme, when you then pour it out into a clear teacup which contains a tiny “egg” actually made of turnip, whilst your little toasties sit precariously on a pile of mad hatter plates next to you, all to make a Mock Turtle Soup. This is FUN! Heston exhibits such passion for food and includes the diner in that. He makes all other chefs look ponderous and staid. You might not love every one of the 14 dishes on the obligatory tasting menu; I wasn't the biggest fan of the rather salty sea course but you've got to laugh when given a seashell playing gentle wave sounds to go with it. Dining here is theatrical, magical, entertaining but Heston's cuisine is also art because for all that showboating it is still about flavour with a capital F. The trio of teeny tiny mushrooms in that soup may reference the Alice in Wonderland theme but they also bring out the meatiness of the liquid beautifully. I'd highly recommend the 7 matched wines too if you can stretch to it: no bottle could go with 14 dishes so leave it to the pros and you'll get the likes of a few Burgundies, a Tokaji and even a sake. Don't think this place is only for snobs: I found the service charming and personal, quite the opposite of the obsequious or sneering style of so many posh nosh places, and the decor and atmosphere are very unassuming. So save up and heed the words Heston borrows from Willy Wonka in the restaurant's confirmation email vignette: “come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination”.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 5.0

Natasha P. 25 November 2013

This is the most amazing food experience I have ever had! I will never ever forget the way we all ooh'd and ahh'd at every dish. I am a very fussy eater most of the time but this was like a firework party for the mouth & stomach, absolutely delicious. This amazing mouth party will linger in my loving memores forever, if only I were rich!

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 2.0

London Gourmet platinum reviewer 16 February 2013

So much is already said about this place so let me sum up my views as follows (1) with all the hype around molecular cuisine just go there an enjoy the faboulous food and overall experience which is outstanding (2) yes there is a lot of theatre around the dishes but it does add to the experience so go for the show (that's what it is) and enjoy (3) my only real critisism (and I admit only because I had the priviligue of having been there 3 times already) is the rather static nature of the menue without much change. If you love food (and can afford the steep price tag) you should treat yourself and go to this place at least once – it's an amazing experience

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Mrs Smith 29 July 2012

I was very lucky to be taken for a birthday treat to the Fat Duck a few weeks ago … And I think my taste buds are still bursting !! Wow yes in my opinion it's been well worth the blood sweat and tears to actually get a booking here. I felt like a lottery winner when the booking was finally confirmed… And yes its been an experience that I will never forget and a special evening indeed. The restaurant is surprisingly small but this adds to the attentive service you receive. As our first glass of wine was poured and we were asked “excited ?” oh yes … Very .. Heston does not disappoint throughout the extraordinary culinary journey you take from the woodlands to the seaside…entering wonderland not wanting to leave … Finishing with desserts from heaven and childhood memories ..An experience we will never forget … Curious , mystical , fulll of suprises … We're still floating on a Heston cloud.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 2.0

Aviv K. 28 March 2011

A meal at the Fat Duck is certainly a unique experience. The attention to detail is unbelievable, the atmosphere unassuming, cosy and intimate and the food, for the most part, delicious. The meal is expensive, and sets an expectation that it doesn't really achieve. Over and above the quality of the food and service (on par with many top restaurants), what you are paying a premium for is Heston's creativity (every dish is truly original) and his brand. Heston certainly gets top marks for his business model, not dissimilar to Disney's: industrialise the magic. The Fat Duck provides a culinary ‘ride’. Everyone sitting around you gets the same ‘special’ stories about the food they are about to be served from the well rehearsed waiters, reciting the same lines to table after table. Everyone gets the same dishes, in the same sequence. And after a while that conveyor belt feeling takes away some of the magic and what you are left with an intellectual appreciation, not an emotional one. The food itself is nice but I'm not sure there is a need to reduce so many ingredients into liquid form, only to re-sculpt them into pieces of art – too often using gelatin. Sometimes a vegetable just wants to be a vegetable and Heston might want to leave a little room for nature's magic alongside his own. Add to that a little bit of spontaneity and love and this restaurant might once again be the best one in the world.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 0.0

robert b. platinum reviewer 21 January 2011

A unique experience, not for everyone…even if everyone could afford it, four hours and thirteen courses is an experience wasted on anyone who isn't seriously into every aspect of dining out. The service is a wonderful performance as well as being very attentive. The atmostphere is as relaxed as fourty odd people in one room all about to drop a minimum of £250 a head, short on jokes big on appreciative/awe struck noises. There are too many nice touches to mention, the attention to detail staggering. Do take someone who is going to pay, don't take anyone you would not willingly sacrifice an arm a leg and a couple of vital organs for.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 3.0

Ian B. 15 November 2010

An excellent restaurant, the food is tremendous and the service attentive.

Food & Drink: 2.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 0.0

Aoife H. 14 March 2010

Went to The Fat Duck for a special occasion having eaten in many Bib Gourmand and Michelin starred restaurants in France and England. We were expecting great things from a 3 starred restaurant and were sadly a little disappointed. It certainly is an experience and the theatre of the service was fantastic. However, once the gimmicks were removed, the quality of the food didn't actually live up to the hype (The Mad Hatter's tea party was such an example) and some of the restaurants we have eaten in in the Languedoc in France. In fact, despite having a good appetite and being willing to give anything a go, we actively disliked a couple of items on the menu (The Sounds of the Sea was novel, but not enjoyable and the gelatinous salmon was not a pleasant experience). Also, although we enjoyed the Anjou pigeon, it and the Sounds of the Sea were over-seasoned and overpoweringly salty. Another gripe was that, although the waiters were amazingly charming and very eager to please (and we would say worth the £50 service charge), our table appeared to have been staggered to align with another party so that there was an overly long wait between courses. This meant that two parties who arrived after us ended up leaving before us and we were left to pine over the arrival of the next course. Again, we are used to eating in French restaurants and appreciate time to digest each course, but this was slightly ridiculous, especially between the amuse bouche and starter courses. This is the only French restaurant where I have been able to eat three large slices of bread and still be able to finish our meal (in fact, I am sad to say that we both went home a little bit hungry). On the plus side, the village of Bray is lovely and the decor in the Fat Duck is beautiful whilst being unpretentious. The deserts are fantastic and deserved their Michelin starred status. We are genuinely sorry to have to give The Fat Duck a disappointing review, but if a Michelin star is an accolade that is supposed to transcend international frontiers, then I am afraid if one takes away the Emperor's New Clothes syndrome and the celebrity chef endorsement, then that sums up what we were – a little disappointed. None of the reviews below seem to reflect this experience, so perhaps we had a slightly off night, but given that a standard tasting menu is served and given the accolades heaped on this restaurant, we wouldn't recommend it.

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

MissSushi gold reviewer 11 January 2010

I think when diners feel that they 'don't get' the Fat Duck, it is because they expect to have a proper meal here rather than a culinary experience, which in my opinion this restaurant offers. The previous reviewer tries to compare her diner experience at the Fat Duck with eating at Gastro-pubs, Indian and English restaurants – that's just silly! Some might enter a famous restaurant already having established that it's all a joke without having even tasted anything yet. One will not find generous portions of their favourite pasta or meat dish here, but neither should one expect that. This is a place for a rare treat, it's like culinary theatre. It's for the curious adventurous palates who seek amazement from simple things such as bread and butter, or outrageously weird things such as hot & iced tea (in the same glass). You just have to leave your preconceptions about food behind and try to go with the flow, because nothing tastes as it should and nothing seems what it is. During one single meal I was stunned, shocked, disgusted, amazed, delighted, surprised, outraged and completely won over. This restaurant is for the type of diner who has seen and eaten a lot and is curious to see and eat even more. I might not have liked every single course, but I certainly admire Blumenthals courage and I respect his creativity and talent. It takes real balls to serve diners carrot air! The fact that he is different amongst hundreds of thousand of restaurants around the world and he stands out, makes me want to give him highest marks. But some people will always judge something they do not understand, because of the fact that they don't understand it. If you're judging it by the standard of your local neighbourhood restaurant, please remain in your neighbourhood, you philistines.

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