January 2018: Fat Duck Group executive chef Jonny Lake has announced he will be moving on from the company after 12 years to pursue personal projects.
Harden's survey result
“How can anyone justify £325 for a tasting menu?… Without wine! But still, it’s SO hard to get a booking anytime soon!”. That’s the conundrum in assessing Heston Blumenthal’s world-famous venue, where the gulf between the ‘ayes’ and the ‘nayes’ grows ever-wider over the question of whether the “extortionate prices” are ultimately worth it for such “unmissable theatre” (“I didn’t realise four hours could go by at a table with such enjoyment”). The ‘ayes’ still have it… if only just… reporting “an amazing adventure into a fantasy world”: “an absolutely incredible and extremely personal experience” via an individual menu researched in advance around your memories that’s “nothing less than magical”. Many fans and foes alike, however, agree that the pricing for said trip “marks it down as a once-in-a-lifetime encounter” that’s “too expensive to repeat”. And amongst the growing number of sceptics – N.B. this year, for over 50% of reporters this was their vote as most overpriced meal of the year – there’s some feeling that “after the latest reboot of the Fat Duck a couple of years ago, it has lost some of what made it great: dishes are avant garde purely for that purpose rather than previously when it was to make them more delicious”.
“Inspiration, as much as food: a conversation-starting, memory-rousing tour de force!” – Heston Blumenthal’s world-famous pub-conversion a short drive outside London delivers “a fairytale journey back to childhood” (they call you in advance to ask about your memories), and its “personalisation to the diner is a joyous and incredible added extra touch, showing staggering attention to detail”. The resulting cuisine can be “sheer genius, with dishes, planned to the minutest item, executed to the highest standard, and with a focus on flavour sensations that are at once familiar yet often completely unique”. There’s the obvious catch – “it’s crazy money” – and, although the outrage at the prices died down a little this year, they still inspire much more resistance than before The Fat Duck’s relaunch a couple of years ago (“no matter how great an experience it is, it a meal for two with wine at what can easily be nigh on £1,000 is just too expensive!”) Still, for most reporters “it was on my bucket list, and it was unbelievable!”
“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 Fat Duck Restaurant Diner Reviews
"Difficult one this, it's insanely expensive but when you look at the set up it's easy to see how."
"Some really excellent cooking at times in this famous and iconic restaurant. Very very expensive though, but if you are a foodie, its worth a trip at least once in your life. We’ve talked about it many many times since. It’s THE destination restaurant in the UK and a restaurant non fine diners are interested in hearing about,"
|Wine per bottle||£14.00|
High St, Bray, SL6 2AQ
|Number of Diners:|
|Tuesday||12:30 pm-1 pm, 7 pm-10 pm|
|Wednesday||12:30 pm-1 pm, 7 pm-10 pm|
|Thursday||12:30 pm-1 pm, 7 pm-10 pm|
|Friday||12:30 pm-1 pm, 7 pm-10 pm|
|Saturday||12:30 pm-1 pm, 7 pm-10 pm|