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AA Notable Wine List 2017-18
AA rating

About this rating

Restaurants are awarded from 1 to 5 Rosettes for culinary excellence. One Rosette restaurants are highly recommended in a local area and five Rosettes have reached the pinnacle of culinary excellence at a world class level.

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A narrative concept menu from a modern legend

AA Inspector

At a glance

Vegetarian menu
Wines by the glass
Wheelchair access

It is probably necessary to go back to the heroic days of traditional haute cuisine in the grand hotels to come across examples of refined cooking – and indeed of a celebrity chef – having attained to such a pitch of mythology. We mean it in both senses of the term. Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck, and its ubiquitously telegenic proprietor himself, have entered the latter-day pantheon of culinary legend, but are also the subject of a great deal of fundamentally mistaken belief. On the latter side, many have come to believe that the cooking here is all something of an elaborate jape, its formidable cost an index of the degree to which people are prepared to be starstruck by reputation alone, even while they set about eating unrecognisable items that only bear the most indistinct relation to food. That nothing could be further from the truth is what accounts for the other half of the legend. Those who do make it here – and the waiting list and booking system are not for the faint-hearted – from all corners of the globe are regaled with a culinary performance that, with awe-inspiring consistency transcends the known limits within most other kitchens are working. Yes, the food is highly conceptualised. Dishes arrive in gigantic seashells with electrical wires trailing from them, or perched on great white cushions floating in mid-air. A pair of ice-lollies is stuck in a tray of gravel. A couple of little packets look like discarded litter on a patch of grass. There is humour of course, but only the kind that assumes we're all on the same side. What the presentations might obscure, it should be admitted, is the unimpeachable quality of their prime materials, and if Blumenthal has spoken of wanting to create the sense of thrilled anticipation one had as a child when the family set out on its summer holiday, that joy is tangible in the intensity of the flavours as much as in the entertaining menu concept that it generates. The glass box of sashimi with its shellfish foam and 'sand' of miso oil, tapioca and panko crumbs would be remarkable in itself, even without the iPod earbud that pours a soundtrack of crashing waves into your skull. A glass of rabbit consommé is served half-hot and half-cold, a bewildering moment of sensory distortion. There are dishes, though, that look just like restaurant dishes, the most artful concept of all, when a serving of duck à l'orange is so poignantly intense, the meat so treasurably tender and flavourful, that all the surrounding narrative trickery fades away. That's ultimately what great cooking is about and, after allowing for all the theatrical ingenuity, the Fat Duck is incomparably good at that too.

Opening hours

  • Closed: 2 weeks at Christmas
  • Days closed: Sunday and Monday
  • Lunch served from: 12
  • Lunch served until: 2
  • Dinner served from: 7
  • Dinner served until: 9


  • Chef(s): Heston Blumenthal

Food and drink

  • Cuisine style: Modern British
  • Vegetarian menu
  • Wines over £30: 500
  • Wines by the glass: 12

Price guide

  • Service charge
  • Credit cards accepted


  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Steps for wheelchair: 1
  • Accessible toilets
  • Assist dogs welcome

Additional information

  • Seats: 42
  • Off-site parking available: Two village car parks

Getting here

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

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