Located in Bray (a quaint village), about a 45 minute train ride out of London, the Fat Duck is now re-opened after a nine month hiatus in Australia. It consists of about 12 tables in a house. Heston Blumenthal is the chef behind the concept but is rarely on the premises. While on hiatus the restaurant underwent some updates, especially to their kitchen and wine cellar. They also re-designed the menu to follow a day in a child’s fantasy journey as Blumenthal would have it. It is a tasting menu, with accommodation to allergies and preferences, and no supplemental options. All reservations are by prepaid “tickets” on their website. It is about a 4 hour meal, but ours lasted almost 5 as we had a trip to the wine cellar and kitchen tour.
Before arriving you are sent a questionnaire asking several questions that didn’t seem to be relevant to the meal. My husband, who made the reservation, got more questions and that was the source of our postcard destination and my getting extra caramels from the sweet shop. Upon arriving you are presented a map of your journey for the day. It involves a loose connection to the Alice in Wonderland/Mad Hatter’s Tea, starting with breakfast, a trip to the sea, walking in the woods, formal dinner, and off to sleep.
Having heard so much about this restaurant, I was really looking forward to tasting their food. However, if you’ve read any of my other restaurant’s remarks you have noticed my love of flavor over theater and this place is way over the top on the latter more than the former. I appreciate all the creativity and effort that went into creating this ‘journey’ but I really wish they’d spent more time on presenting something tasty and not just showy. It makes it a one-time visit in my book as you’ve seen their props and the food simply isn’t appealing enough to want to eat it again. Much was bland, yet beautifully presented, and some downright yucky. In addition, after dining there 5 hours I left glad we had a dinner reservation.