Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

The Fat Duck 2005


tony h
 Share

Recommended Posts

Hello

I am new here and although I have been lurking for some time, I finally dipped in the posting pool.

Very interesting thread of 16 pages and took a while to absorb it all.

May I summarize as follows:

1- Menu construction based on niche position of Molecular Gastronomy principle.

2- Michelin 3 star.

3- Outstanding prose of one dinner experience.

4- Like v Dislike opinions.

5- Heston personality.

6- Oops, and now, reservations complications.

Welcome to the world of spin.

FD and similar establishments are part of the "Entertainment" experience. They are not gastronomic temples and Michelin lost the way many few years ago.

Well done Heston, he is able to bring large queues to his restaurant and entertain the minds with his gastronomic adaptation. Did I eat at FD, yes. Will I go again, No.

Maybe this will raise some eyebrows should I dare and compare Heston with Nobu. Nobu did offer a positive contribution to food lovers. Put aside for a second the setting, the service and the frills. But Nobu bridged the culinary European and Japanese corridor with dishes that stamped a memory on the palate. He did enrich our palate palette. To name but only a very small example is the addition of lemon juice to the ubiquitous Soya sauce (Yellow Tail dressing). This is one small example where Nobu did influence food lovers to adopt his teachings.

Of course, most of you already know his signature dishes so no need for me to elaborate.

Where is Heston in all that? Sheer entertainment and no deferred gastronomic heritage.

My 2ct.

Edited by Almass (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is only since they achieved their 3rd star that they have put a reservations department together, before that there was generally a couple of tables for each service nearly always available and the calls would be fielded by the FOH staff.

I just booked a table for one of my Sous and had a complete nightmare getting through. sorted eventually though.

after all these years in a kitchen, I would have thought it would become 'just a job'

but not so, spending my time playing not working

www.e-senses.co.uk

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Welcome to the world of spin.

But what is the relevance of the existence of all this 'spin' to one's judgement of the restaurant? Heston could hardly deny that he has both been party to and benefited massively from media attention towards the inventiveness of his approach, but spin remains a product of journalists rather than chefs.

Sheer entertainment and no deferred gastronomic heritage.

I'm not really sure what you mean by "deferred gastronomic heritage", but the work of Heston, Adria F. et al is bound to have a substantial and long-lasting influence on the everyday, friendly meaning of "gastronomy" - that is, what unexceptional people who love and take an interest in food eat and enjoy when the treat themselves to a meal at a good restaurant. I don't know how rarefied your definition of gastronomy is, but you only have to look at the recent additions to Ramsay's menu to see the echoes of Heston et al's non-heritage.

(Its influence is also bound to lead, in fact probably already has led, to a whole host of disastrous provincial imitations, but I daresay that sort of price is paid with any culinary trend).

Edited by adt (log)

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Adria F. et al

Not to imply that he is cut from exactly the same cloth, of course. (I seem to recall he prefers the term "culinary constructivism", but the media spin he receives is broadly similar in any case).

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yesterday's Guardian had this article: Day the Fat Duck failed to impress about the Fat Duck failing to impress the health inspectors. It isn't clear from the article exactly when the health inspection was carried out, but it says they passed retests in May and July last year, so this isn't exactly hot news.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Yesterday's Guardian had this article: Day the Fat Duck failed to impress about the Fat Duck failing to impress the health inspectors. It isn't clear from the article exactly when the health inspection was carried out, but it says they passed retests in May and July last year, so this isn't exactly hot news.

bacteria=flavour?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

How wonderful that restaurant EHO reports can be accessed under the FOI Act, but not documents more, shall we say, pertinent to government policy? I digress.

Tony - bacteria can indeed equate to flavour, in certain circumstances.. If EHO guidelines were followed strictly to the letter, many restaurants would go out of business. To give you a ludicrous example, I am not allowed, strictly speaking, to hold confit duck vac-packed and in duck fat in the fridge at 1-2C for more than three days. Similarly with terrines, even refrigerated and kept under clarified butter. I'm not allowed to use sterile, boil-washed linen oven cloths (not even washed in house, but handled by a national company) as liners for boxes in which tuiles are kept (they support them and stop them breaking in storage) despite the fact that we make tuiles daily and use a new clean cloth every time, for reasons of 'cross-contamination'. They're porous and that's that, apparently.

Sorry, that was quite a rant.

So, unless they start having outbreaks of food poisoning, I'm not going to be too bothered about hygiene at the FD.

Allan Brown

"If you're a chef on a salary, there's usually a very good reason. Never, ever, work out your hourly rate."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

From the Guardian article linked above:

Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, was last month voted the best in the world by Restaurant magazine.

Unfortunately the local council has also just released to the Guardian, under the Freedom of Information Act, the rather sniffy results of its most recent health inspection.

The inspectors went for:

· Ballotine of foie gras, jelly of mead, and Sichuan peppercorns

· Braised belly of pork, savoy cabbage, lardo from Colonnato

· Tart Tatin, vanilla ice cream.

It all sounds delicious. But "three out of the four samples were found to be unsatisfactory," Wendy Foster, the food and safety officer, wrote to the restaurant on February 13 2004. "There are clearly some processing and handling issues which need to be addressed". . .

=R=

"Hey, hey, careful man! There's a beverage here!" --The Dude, The Big Lebowski

LTHForum.com -- The definitive Chicago-based culinary chat site

ronnie_suburban 'at' yahoo.com

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I assume that all the results/reports from EHO Inspections are covered by the Freedom of Infomation Act, so maybe we should all start publishing our results as a step forward in addressing bad practice?

I,ll show you mine, if you show me yours !

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I assume that all the results/reports from EHO Inspections are covered by the Freedom of Infomation Act, so maybe we should all start publishing our results as a step forward in addressing bad practice?

I,ll show you mine, if you show me yours !

Spot on there. If you were in Greenwich you wouldn't have a choice about it either.

Today's Guardian has a follow-on article about Gordon Ramsey at Claridges, Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, Petrus, The Ivy, Sketch, Cinnamon Club, Momo, and Nobu. In all cases the 'faults' were minor and soon corrected. The full report from Le Manoir is also online.

The main complaint in the article is that Westminster council are refusing to release their reports

They say to come clean would cause "confusion and panic" and damage London's tourist trade.

The important point they are trying to make is not in this article at all, but hidden in a separate leader:

Once food inspections in the UK find their way into the public domain via the internet it will not be long before they become an essential part of every restaurant review, especially as the web allows easy links to the full reports. This ought to lead to immediate pressure for greater efficiency. A restaurant's fear of losing custom as a result of getting a bad report is a powerful incentive. Reform could then be taken a stage further. If restaurants were required to post a summary of the inspector's report by their front doors - possibly with a grading from one to 10 - this could lead to a dramatic rise in hygiene standards. This would be good for personal health and ultimately good for the tourist industry as well.

Personally, I don't care if a restaurant scores 8 or 9 out of 10 on a hygiene report. I do care if it scores 1 or 2 and would want to avoid such places.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know how HB gets away with not changing the menu for the last billion years.

Every review of his food churns out the same old same old. Having eaten here 3ish years ago, I have no desire whatsover to return.

I've said this before, but Michelin giving the FD 3*'s made me laugh out loud.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Samantha, if you had bothered to eat there on a regular basis you might notice that although the menu may not change much the dishes certainly do. At least Heston manages to refine things without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

There is cetainly no need to eat the same dish twice and if you must have the tasting menu just ask to swap some things, they always seem happy to do so.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't know how HB gets away with not changing the menu for the last billion years.

Every review of his food churns out the same old same old. Having eaten here 3ish years ago, I have no desire whatsover to return.

I've eaten there a few times over the last several years. Each time the menu has been subtly different and part of the enjoyment is seeing just how it has evolved over time.

I do intend to go back again. Just not sure when.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Those of you who have purchased the 2 May 2005 issue of TIME Magazine may have found the following article of interest:

"Foie gras ice cream was probably a low point," says Blumenthal. "The fat crystals were too big, so the mouth feel was terrible. You could taste the sliminess. The smell wasn't lovely either." Of course, in Blumenthal's kitchen it's often hard to tell the difference between wrong and right. Among his signature dishes: snail porridge, salmon poached with licorice jelly and--after failed experiments with goose liver, parsley, garlic and other ingredients--smoked-bacon-and-egg ice cream.

Much of the article is old hat to regular readers of this thread, but for those of us who haven't experienced Chef Blumenthal (either in prose or directly), it's illuminating.

Madman In The Kitchen (Josh Tyrangiel-Bray) (note: access to the article requires registration at TIME magazine's web site.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That's interesting. I've had some foie gras ice cream here in the states. It was part of a tasting menu in which Mrs. B and I received different dishes for each course. I thought it was excellent, but I only had a little bite. It was served to my wife and that's all she would part with in spite of her fear that she'd never be able to finish the entire meal. It was that good. Needless to say we didn't think the version served by Daniel in NYC was anything but excellent. Maybe a childhood of chopped chicken liver with schmaltz prepared me for the mouth feel. Maybe it's a second generation thing and maybe Daniel's kitchen is better suited to taking idea and making them work. I don't know. I don't mean to cast aspersions on the technical abilities of Blumenthal and the Fat Duck kitchen. I didn't find any technical errors when I ate there. The only ice cream I remember was the mustard ice cream.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Samantha, if you had bothered to eat there on a regular basis you might notice that although the menu may not change much the dishes certainly do. At least Heston manages to refine things without throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

There is cetainly no need to eat the same dish twice and if you  must have the tasting menu just ask to swap some things, they always seem happy to do so.

It's always the same old complaint I keep hearing about The Fat Duck, which is 'the menu never changes'. Nimzo, I think if The Fat Duck quit refining dishes and came up with some new ones then this complaint would go away. If they are a truely innovative restaurant, then this shouldn't be difficult. There isn't an out pouring of creativity at The Fat Duck anymore, just, as you say, a lot of technical refinment. I'd love the excitment of tasting and hearing about things like white chocolate and cavair, tabacco truffles and the breakfast dessert, to come back. It seems to me that The Fat Duck has stopped dreaming.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

It is truly amazing just how little the Fat Duck has had to do in order to gain its reputation for hyper-creativity.

I don't think The Fat Duck's reputation is based on "hyper-creativity", although you may be able to prove me wrong and link to an article that usess that term or words similar to it. People have always said that he doesn't change his menu very often. His reputation has been built on a steadily growing media interest in his food, much of it attracted by the "ick" factor of snail prridge and foie gras ice cream, and his high ratings in the guides.

I think its just the way Heston works, he's not in the position of many other chefs where they can say, "Right, I'm bored of that bloody sea bass dish, lets put turbot on instead and we'll do a classic beurre blanc with it and maybe some wild mushrooms." If he wants to change the oyster and passion fruit, then he's got to come up with something equally striking, unusual, different. Having developed a whole theatrical presentation for dishes like the green tea and lime sour or the parsnip cereal, he's not going to take those of the menu lightly.

Just as most bands will come up with one memorable song every couple of years, chefs will only create one of two great dishes a year, maybe not even that. Gagnaire reckons to have created five perfect dishes in his whole career. Whether you like the food or not, its obvious that a lot of thought goes into each dish. Pretty much everything on the menu is a 3 minute pop single; the food is crafted, it's "produced", it's properly arranged with backing singers and a string section.

Heston is a creative chef, perhaps the most creative in the country. So he doesn't work fast enough to satisfy you? Well, I wouldn't hold your breath for him to change his ways. Having said that, now that he has his "lab", he has the space and manpower to do more and maybe we will see more changes. But there are only so many good ideas out there.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Having not eaten at either the Fat Duck or the other restaurant I'm about to mention somewhat critically I'm very loath to say too much here, but I can't totally restrain myself. I'm not at all bothered by unchanging signature dishes, but the lack of seasonality that's been talked about does concern me a lot more. When I was in last weekend Cambridge I walked past Midsummer House and the menu was EXACTLY the same as it had been the last time I'd done so, at Xmas. In the restaurants I've eaten in at equivalent levels in the US this would be pretty much unthinkable, even if you have a core of staples that are on the menu year round, some dishes would always reflect the time of year. It seems a shame not to do this, not least as one does miss out on the chance to make the most of certain kinds of produce. Is this year-round menu a particularly English phenomena in high-end eating perhaps?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Pretty much everything on the menu is a 3 minute pop single; the food is crafted, it's "produced", it's properly arranged with backing singers and a string section.

But couldn't exactly the same be said of the dishes at El Bulli? A restaurant which, in contrast, shows a very determined and focussed year-on-year evolution of the menu. Some reinvention/refinement, yes, but a massive number of exciting new dishes too.

Regarding seasonality, that is also something they pay attention to, determining the months at which each dish may be served (although admittedly a fair number of them are 'all'), and eschewing certain ingredients because the restaurant is closed at the relevant time of the year.

(This is based on their published philosophy - I've not actually eaten there :sad:)

Ian

I go to bakeries, all day long.

There's a lack of sweetness in my life...

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...