While it lacked the smoke and mirrors, Blumenthal’s signature dish of snail porridge did not disappoint. The oats that made up the porridge were a lurid green from the parsley they were cooked with and the salty, tender snails were teamed with shards of Iberico ham and the slight licorice hit of shaved fennel.
Roast foie gras was quite simply the best foie gras I have ever tasted in my life. It instantly converted MTV boyfriend (a simple meat and three veg man) to the foie gras camp. The foie gras was creamy and wobbly in the centre and slightly bronzed and denser around the edges adding a textural element to the dish. It was balanced by the tang of rhubarb jam.
Roast foie gras
Each dish seemed to top the next but the real highlight came with the mock turtle soup which was served in the style of Alice in Wonderland’s Mad Hatter Tea party. Just as the Mad Hatter dunked his fob watch in the tea, so too a gold fob watch was dipped into a cup of boiling water and dissolved to leave behind the richest, most pungent broth flecked with shreds of gold leaf.
The dissolving watch
I was then instructed to pour the broth into a bowl of a turnip mousse, which was designed to resemble a mock turtle egg, delicate enoki mushrooms and a meaty dumpling. The whole dish was just magical and I could not help grinning in child like wonderment.
Mock turtle soup
Equally as visually spectacular was the “Sound of the Sea” which I ate while listening to to waves crash through an ipod located in a giant sea shell. The dish was presented on a two tier wooden and glass board and was topped with sashimi of brilliantly fresh tuna, halibut and mackerel on top of ‘sand’ made out of spiced tapioca and a shellfish foam. It was wacky and brilliant although I was not as wowed by the taste as I found the tapioca a little too dry and perhaps a too accurate representation of sand.
Sound of the Sea
A fillet of salmon was perfectly cooked to a firm pink and then poached in a sticky licorice gel which provided a mild aniseed flavour to the fish. The salmon was teamed with in season asparagus, creamy vanilla mayonnaise and tiny explosions of golden trout roe.
The dish that made me think I might not make it to dessert was the pigeon with spelt risotto. The pigeon was served with meaty blood pudding and a dense, sticky sauce. The bird seemed to have been cooked sous-vide so that it was ridiculously soft and rich and nearly finished me off when teamed with the risotto.
Of course when you have ODed there is nothing that can pick you up again like a good old cup of tea. Or more specifically Blumenthal’s hot and iced tea which alternates between freezing cold iced tea and steaming hot tea in each breath. My mind could only boggle at the actual science that went into this but whatever it was, it was delicious and resuscitated me in time for the three desserts.
First up was the taffety tart, a confection of absolute patisserie precision which I had eaten before at Blumenthal’s Dinner
restaurant in London (the only overlap on the menus of the two restaurants that I am aware of). It was as good as I remembered with incredibly thin layers of pastry balance on puffs of fromage blanc
which were enlivened by an intense scoop of blackcurrant sorbet.
Even better though was the “BFG”, a contemporary take on the classic black forest gateau. It was creamy and chocolately all at the same time and utter perfection right down to the edible stalk on the cherry on top. Accompanied by kirsch ice cream and a spritz of Black Forest scent it was perhaps the ultimate dessert.
After dinner came whiskey, or in Blumenthal’s case whiskey gums ingeniously served on a map of Scotland. It distinct flavours and characteristics of each whiskey were actually clearer than they ever have been when I am drinking the stuff so perhaps I should imbibe all whiskey in gum form from now on.
We had actually opted not to get the matching wines per course and so were not too sloshed by this stage and so actually able to enjoy the whiskey gums. For a saving of £70 on the cheapest wine matching option we were still able to enjoy a glass of Tattinger each, a glass of white wine and then to share a bottle of red. All were expertly selected by the sommelier and this offered a good option for those more interested in the food than the wine at The Fat Duck.
To finish there was a bag of treats called “A kid in a sweetshop”. I was so full that I opted to take the treats away and enjoy the novelty of things such as an apple pie caramel with an edible wrapper from the comfort of home. This also allowed me to eek out a little bit longer the incredible Fat Duck experience which had already taken about four hours in the restaurant.
I was blown away by the theatrical nature of my meal at the Fat Duck. It was not only some of the best food I have eaten in my life, it was also truly an experience rather than just a meal. I was constantly delighted, amused and entertained by what appeared before me. The fact that such an experience was served in a low key, relaxed environment only made the meal more enjoyable.
Finally I can say I have been there, eaten and got the tshirt. Well I probably would have if The Fat Duck sold such a thing.
Damage: Budget breaking. The tasting menu is £160 a person. Including drinks our meal came to £500 for two.