The Fat Duck 4444

1 High Street, Bray , Maidenhead, SL6 2AQ

17 reviews

325 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

SquareMeal award hall of fame 1999-2018 logo badge“Words can’t describe how incredibly entertaining a trip to The Fat Duck is” – so writes a fan who was “made to feel like royalty” at Heston Blumenthal’s three-Michelin-starred wonderland. To say it’s pricey is an understatement: prospective diners currently have to shell out £325 up front for a ‘ticket’ that allows access to the 17-course itinerary. In return, the lucky ones are whisked away on an imagined day out, a holiday trip evoking lots of playful childhood memories with “incredible” staff acting as grown-up guides. It’s the “little touches” and personalised wizardry that really count, in fact the whole show is one gasp-inducing, side-splitting bonanza – although the theatrics are never at the expense of flavour. ‘Rise and shine’ means fun-pack cereal boxes (all crisp grains and jellies) as well as ‘cold… and hot tea’, while a trip to the beach involves the now-famous ‘sound of the sea’ (cured seafood nibbled while listening to the sound of surf through headphones). Later on, a proper three-course ‘dinner’ touts everything from hay-smoked veal sweetbread with baby gem to a boned and crisped chicken’s foot with red-wine mayo, before ‘counting sheep’ sees a meringue resting on a pillow floating above the table thanks to magnetic levitation. And we haven’t even mentioned the mushroom truffle log, the whisky gums or the sweets from the custom-built doll’s house. The verdict? “Five hours of sheer magic”. Yes, eating at the Duck is an immersive, multisensory fantasy, but we’re with readers who dub it a must-do “experience of a lifetime”.

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Nearby Tube/Rail Stations

Maidenhead Station 1km

Taplow Station 2km

Address

Address: 1 High Street, Bray , Maidenhead SL6 2AQ

Opening times

Tues-Sat 12N-2pm 7-9pm

Nearby Landmarks

Braywick Golf Club 1km

Maidenhead Golf Club 1km

Details

Telephone: 01628 580333

Website:

Cuisine: French British

Dinner: £325 (17 courses)

7.9

Food & Drink: 8.3

Service: 8.9

Atmosphere: 7.7

Value: 5.9

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 2.0

Paul A. platinum reviewer 03 June 2018

Okay, so we’ve now been to the Fat Duck. Michelin by Bookatable (or the other way round) gives it three stars and it is an experience that is not possible to compare with anywhere else we’ve eaten. But after seventeen fairly generous courses, an equivalent number of technical and visual gimmicks, sometimes over-the-top presentation, partly compensated for by the superb wines and the very accommodating and generous approach of the front of house staff and a visit to the kitchen, where Edward Cooke was running everything with much precision, not to mention the expressions of delight issuing from surrounding tables, we found ourselves disappointingly ‘unwowed’ at the end of this four hour stint of theatricality. The journey concept is perhaps a good starting point for establishing a fine dining ‘itinerary’ but even just paying lip service to each diner’s memories is impossible given the range of age groups and backgrounds, especially with the variety of nationalities in the restaurant the evening we were there. So basically what is presented is presumably Heston Blumenthal’s imagining of what might have been experienced by as many of the diners as possible and his appliance of science in the kitchen. Our impression was that once the initial conceptual stage had been accomplished, minor adaptations could be made, but, rather like our judgement of Dinner by HB, this seemed to have resulted in almost a formulaic approach, both with the dishes and the repeated and audible spiel by the waiting staff, which produced what could be likened to a production-line effect, despite the attempt to surround it all with an almost fairy-story atmosphere, the latter not really working for us given the uniform drabness of the dining room, even though we realised that this was probably deliberate so as not to have any distractions from the presentation. The thing was that, apart from the ‘Table d’hôte menu’ served as part of one of the seven imaginings of eats at various times of the day, not much resembled “real food”, with the result that one ended up trying to identify the various elements involved in the composition of the tastes discovered in the items on the stick, on the plate, on the hovering pillow and so on at any one time and consequently being quite distracted from any of the memories we might have had of our childhood holidays. And where were the fish and chips? The myriads of elements making up the production are well documented, in the Good Food Guide inter alia, but it is still worth mentioning the memories we brought away - the tongue-tingling Campari and prosecco ice lolly, the whipped butter with the coffee-tasting jam, the variety pack containing flakes and crunchy bits giving a faint taste of a full English, the school lab experiment of simultaneously hot and cold coffee which reminded us of an instant brew, the “sound of the sea” dominated by screeching seagulls and one of the fishy components being kingfish from Japan, the brilliant crab and passion fruit “99”, the super strong crab (too strong for my wife) in the Rockpool with extra crab for me in place of cucumber, the multiplicity of tastes and textures in the “boroughgroves”, a puzzling mock mock turtle, then the dishes in the evening meal sequence with tasty cuttlefish cannelloni and scallop, coq au vin, the chicken for which was from the Loire to guarantee a full texture but with rather soggy skin, the alphonso mango dessert, the whisky bottle gums digestif which was lost on us non-whisky drinkers, the floating pillow, and finally the model Fat Duck premises with sweeties. So was it value for money? Let’s just say that if it’s theatre you want then Fat Duck can’t be beaten, but for less than the total we coughed up here we could have had three meals, one at each of three restaurants within 12 miles of Bray, each of which deserves a star, and we would have come away from each one vastly more content than we were on this evening.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 5.0

Value: 4.0

ALAIN A. 12 November 2017

Words can't describe how incredibly entertaining a trip to The Fat Duck is. From the moment we arrived we were made to feel like royalty. The atmosphere was so comfortable and not at all pretentious. Every course was not met with gasps, laughs and excitement. Without a doubt, this was my favourite dining experience. It is the little touches, especially the personalised features, that really set this well above and beyond any other restaurant around. Every member of staff was a delight and so friendly and helpful. I'm certain that Heston is very proud of the tight ship they're running there. It should be noted that, unlike other tasting menus we have had in the past, I was genuinely full by the end of this meal. The culinary highlight for me was the rock pooling portion. I have a new found appreciation for roe (something I previously despised) and it really evoked some lovely childhood memories. Worth every penny. Everyone needs to go at least once.

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.