The Fat Duck
The Fat Duck
The Fat Duck
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SquareMeal Review of The Fat Duck

Gold Award

“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 £375 up front for a ‘ticket’ that allows access to the 17-course itinerary – and that’s just for the food.

In return, the lucky ones are whisked away on an imagined day out – and you’ll need about half a day to fully appreciate the experience. The big idea is that the “thought-provoking” menu represents a holiday trip evoking lots of playful childhood memories with “incredible” staff acting as grown-up guides. The “lovely surprises” and personalised wizardry are smile-inducing (diners might be given a postcard from a favourite holiday destination) and while there are plenty of gasp-inducing visuals “which leave you elated”, 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” that “can't be beaten as an overall experience”. Eating here is so much more than a restaurant meal: it’s an immersive, multisensory fantasy. “Remarkably, it lives up to the hype” – and we’re with readers who dub it a “once-in-a-lifetime special occasion”.

About The Fat Duck

One of only five restaurants in the UK to receive five Michelin stars, The Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire finds its home in a quaint 16th-century building that was previously home to The Bell pub. Headed up and owned by Heston Blummenthal 

The restaurant is best known for its 14-course tasting menu that features quirky dishes such as nitro-scrambled eggs and a dish called Sound of the Sea which includes listening to audio as part of the experience and bacon and egg flavoured ice-cream.

Far from simply a gimmick, The Fat Duck has stood the test of time and is one of Berkshire’s most famous - if not the most famous - dining destination. The restaurant plays on playful memories and adventure from your childhood and the unexpected dishes are designed to bring back that awe and magic you experience as a child.

Good to know

Average Price
££££ - Over £80
Cuisines
British
Ambience
Fine dining, Fun, Luxury, Quiet conversation, Quirky, Unique, Widely spaced tables
Other Awards
SquareMeal UK Top 100, Three Michelin stars
Food Occasions
Dinner, Lunch
People
Birthdays, Celebrations, Romantic, Special occasions
Food Hygiene Rating

Location for The Fat Duck

1 High Street, Bray, Berkshire, SL6 2AQ

01628 580333

Website

Opening Times

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

Reviews of The Fat Duck

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29 Reviews 
Food/Drink
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Linda W

10 April 2019  
Lives up to the hype, remarkably. Entertaining, delicious food. Eye watering prices especially the wines but glad I did it.

Graeme C

09 April 2019  
Innovative menu and exemplary service.

PETER M

05 April 2019  
Simply extraordinary in terms of quality of food and a genuine experience which leaves you elated.

Sarah M

29 March 2019  
Attention to detail with incredible extravagantly creative food and such a sweet humble location. Food is combined with all the senses. Need to leave plenty of time but it is like not like eating anywhere else - so unique.

Paul A

Style over substance
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
Service
Atmosphere
Value

Sam S

24 April 2018  
The grandeur of the room at St. Pancras never fails to impress. This is the place to take out of town guests. The bar makes some mean cocktails too.

Deanne

27 March 2018  
Cooking by an accomplished chef. Setting that defines bucolic chic. Decent ales. Upscale locals and a few nomadic tourists.

MOLLY H

27 March 2018  
Beautifully fresh seafood, fantastic wine list and gorgeously quirky design makes this a fantastic places for events or weekends away.

Valerie H

27 March 2018  
Good food, but poor service.

Jacquelyn W

21 March 2018  
Fantastic food, great service and just the best place to eat. Lovely friendly staff who always make it a special event. One of my very favourite places to eat. Great value for a great night out.

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