The Fat Duck reopened on 29 September after a complete refurb' and with a new £255 pp menu.
Harden's survey result
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“A theatrical and gastronomic event unlike any other”… Heston Blumenthal’s re-launched extravaganza “has a new concept – they take you on a journey and even phone you in advance to ask you questions about your memorable experiences” – and on most accounts the result remains “a perfect balance of food and showmanship”, with “attention to detail that’s truly amazing and lots of fun”; but then there’s the humungous cost. OK, it’s always been an arm-and-a-leg job here, but “nigh on a grand for two!?” (if you go for the set menu and wine flights); while for a slim majority it’s worth it for “a once-in-a-lifetime multi-sensory experience”, for the first time in survey feedback on this famous venue there is very significant kickback against the quality/price equation, with two in five reporters finding that “whilst you can’t help but praise the effort and the genius in the execution, it’s all too much, and doesn’t justify the stratospheric pricing”. (Ironically, given all the recent investment in this converted pub, most regulars also “marginally preferred the old decor”, or even find “the new, everything-grey look is like a prison!”)
“The Fat Duck is to food what Cirque du Soleil is to circuses – a wonderful, and unique, experience”. And in spite of the terrifying prices, it is striking how satisfied most reporters are with its “pure theatre and pure gastronomic experience”. For much of this year, this world-famous converted pub has been closed for a complete overhaul, and in September 2015 it re-opened promising ‘a nostalgic trip full of playful memories, filled with curiosity, discovery and adventure’ (for which you have to buy your ticket up-front!) We’re looking forward to hearing what this means in next year’s survey, but – despite the absence of snail porridge and egg-and-bacon ice cream from the new menu, and the addition of a new £150,000, Willy Wonka-esque roving sweet dispenser – our rating is a bet that it will turn out a case of ‘plus ça change’.
“The gastronomic equivalent of Cirque du Soleil” – this world-famous pub-conversion offers a “fun experiment on your tastebuds” most reporters find “everything it’s billed to be”; prices are “absurd”, though, and sceptics say “this may have been cutting edge 10 years ago, but every other restaurant does it nowadays”.
“The most memorable meal ever!” – Heston Blumenthal’s world-famous HQ delivers a “brilliantly choreographed” experience, featuring his wilfully bonkers culinary inventions (“you really feel you’ve fallen down that rabbit hole”); nowadays, however, prices are at risk of seeming “seriously excessive” (especially as the interior is “very plain”).
High St, Bray, SL6 2AQ
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lunch noon - 1.45 pm, dinner 7 pm - 9 pm
Last orders: 9 pm