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The Fat Duck

High Street, BRAY, SL6 2AQ

5 rosettes

Heston Blumenthal's enthusiasm and passion is seductive. His seemingly tireless curiosity and willingness to push at the boundaries of convention is unyielding. These elements of the man's characteristics have made The Fat Duck what it is today: one of the best restaurants in the world. With the restaurant's 20th anniversary in the offing, it is impossible to imagine the foodie landscape without his innovations. He's a fixture on the telly. His books top the charts. Say 'snail porridge' to just about anyone and they'll have heard about it, but maybe not had a bite. The menu has changed a lot over the years as Heston's mind expanded, high on his discoveries and maybe a sense that he was on the crest of a wave. Just the tasting menu remains these days (just...?), well, only the tasting menu remains, and it's priced at 195 a head, leaping over the 200 quid mark when you add the 12% service charge. There's no chance of eating here for less, but this is a unique, one-off (for many) experience that really will live long in the memory. When you appreciate the work that goes into each dish, the craft, the passion, the time, the cost seems easier to justify. This is no ordinary restaurant although it looks like one from the outside, where the former pub appears almost humble with its pale-grey walls and swinging sign. No need to shout after all. Inside, everything is soothingly sophisticated but not overly so, with a genuine feeling of relaxation and anticipation pervading. The stellar staff can cope with eight or so languages so visiting pilgrims can be informed as they go along. The 14-course menu will stimulate every sense - smell, taste, sight and sound - as what follows consumes you as much as you consume it. The nitro-poached aperitifs are a lot of fun, the perfect start, with an espuma flavoured with vodka and lime sour, Campari soda or tequila and grapefruit poached in liquid nitrogen at -196 degrees C, dissolving on your tongue to deliver an intense hit of clean, crisp flavour. The menu does not change but rather evolves, with most of the 'classics' on show as that's what the punters have come for, but new things arrive to keep the interest of seasoned visitors. Three cheers for red cabbage gazpacho with Pommery grain mustard ice cream, and snail porridge with Iberico Bellota ham and shaved fennel, and take a bow the gorgeously seductive roast foie gras rhubarb, confit kombu and crab biscuit. The science and the innovation impresses, but most of all, it is the taste that lingers in the memory. There's the 'Mad Hatters tea party' (as seen on TV), and the 'Sound of the Sea' delivering the aural stimulation (alongside some fab kingfish, abalone and mackerel). Sweet courses are a lot of fun, too, with 'Whisk (e) y wine gums' and a newer addition combining the flavours of rhubarb, sheep's milk yogurt and bergamot. The wine list is a first-class piece of work befitting of this company.

Further information

Tel: 01628 580333
Please quote 'The AA'.
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Open/closed

Days closed: Sun-Mon
Dates closed: 2 wks at Xmas

Restaurant information

Cooking type: Modern British
Chef: Heston Blumenthal, Jonny Lake
Number of seats: 40
Steps for wheelchair: 1
Vegetarian meals available.
Children welcome.
Children's portions.

 
 
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Directions

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M4 junct 8/9 (Maidenhead) take A308 towards Windsor, turn left into Bray. Restaurant in centre of village on right
Nearest station: Maidenhead

Local information for SL6 2AQ

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