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The Fat Duck 2005


tony h
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In the end, the extent to which you will enjoy the Fat Duck, will depend on how much you value novelty in food; how much pleasure you derive from the 'fashionable' aspect of dining, and your experience of eating at establishments of a similar level.

Bravo. That's entirely disprovable, and about as logically useful as saying: the extent to which you enjoy Racine will depend on how much you value antiquity in food; how much pleasure you derive from 'tried and tested' formulas in dining, and your experience in eating at similar bistros.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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In the end, the extent to which you will enjoy the Fat Duck, will depend on how much you value novelty in food; how much pleasure you derive from the 'fashionable' aspect of dining, and your experience of eating at establishments of a similar level.

Bravo. That's entirely disprovable, and about as logically useful as saying: the extent to which you enjoy Racine will depend on how much you value antiquity in food; how much pleasure you derive from 'tried and tested' formulas in dining, and your experience in eating at similar bistros.

As you can I was quite careful in wording the above, and the term 'the extent', I think, makes what I've said fairly clear. If you are the kind of person who enjoys fashion & novelty, yet have not experienced a Fat Duck like experience, then the chances are these factors will enhance your enjoyment of it. On the other hand, if you don't value fashion & novelty your enjoyment won't be due to those reasons; and if have have eaten at Gagnaire, for example, then the stylistic impact may be somewhat diminished. However, as I also made quite clear, this doesn't mean to say that you won't enjoy it, it just means that you won't enjoy it as much, which might still be very much indeed. Nevertheless, please feel free to do more than merely allude to your logic-chopping abilities.

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In the end, the extent to which you will enjoy the Fat Duck, will depend on how much you value novelty in food; how much pleasure you derive from the 'fashionable' aspect of dining, and your experience of eating at establishments of a similar level.

Bravo. That's entirely disprovable, and about as logically useful as saying: the extent to which you enjoy Racine will depend on how much you value antiquity in food; how much pleasure you derive from 'tried and tested' formulas in dining, and your experience in eating at similar bistros.

Baby giving you grief today Moby? :wink:

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Well put. I do indeed have the logic-chopping abilities of a very small root vegetable, poorly stored.

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

Flickr Food

"111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321" Bruce Frigard 'Winesonoma' - RIP

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Having fathered four, now adult, boys, I entirely understand an infant's debilitating effects on one's reason. Indeed, not having a mewling gnome to contend with, I've just read this thread from start to finish, and despite some apparent lacunae it's a truly fascinating read.

Should culinary history ever become a respectable subject for study, I have no doubt that threads like these will provide historians with some of the most valuable primary source material imaginable.

Well done egullet! Just terrific.

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Last week we had the tasting menu (97.50 pounds) for dinner in this permanently fully booked place of pilgrimage, all 20-odd courses.

As this is the best restaurant in the world, according to Restaurant Magazine 2005, we must have experienced the best meal in the world, full stop.

let me guess, it wasn't the best meal in the world?

You guys are depressing me.

We've wanted to go to the Fat Duck since it first opened and never got there. Rather late to jump on the train, husband just booked a meal for my birthday, which took some doing since we waited until it was named "best in the world" to go and now after reading all of this I'm just not so excited any more.

Maybe we should just save our money but after waiting so long....

i'd never tell anyone not to go.

i agree in essence with dirk, a lot depends on why you go out to eat, for sustenance? for the wine? eat delicous food? eat 'clever' food? the atmosphere? to 'collect' 3 stars? to be at the 'in' place?

all seem valid enough reasons to visit a restaurant

the fat duck will certainly tick several of those boxes and i am certain after you've been you'll have a view, you'll love it or hate it.

but at least you'll know!

you don't win friends with salad

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I am reassured to discover that you'd all recommend at least one visit. I'll definitely be back to tell you all what we thought. We did eat at Heston's Riverside Brasserie and very much enjoyed it. The steak with marrow sauce in particular was a favourite as well as the salmon infused with beetroot. I presume the Fat Duck is a different experience altogether but am looking forward to it, even if I probably know the contents of the tasting menu off by heart after hearing so many people describe it!

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The bread is suprisingly disappointing, slices of two types of loaves, and crusts as hard and chewy as sugar cane. Definitely not a feature full of creativity, in contrast to everything else in this place.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Wolfram Siebeck is justly considered as the doyen of German food writers and his column in Die Zeit is invariably delivered in a style that is elegant and well informed. He is I guess in his 70's and he is sometimes slightly too focused on traditional styles and values for some readers but well heeled Germans seem to go for that kind of thing. I don't think his name has cropped up in this thread.

Since he writes in German he may generally fall below the horizon for much of the english speaking world but this is a pity since he does not limit his comments to Germany.

A recent review of The Fat Duck (Die Fette Ende!) is typically dry and amusing and the origional version can be read at

http://www.zeit.de/2005/24/Siebeck_2fKolumne_London_1

Happily for the wider world an English translation is now also available at

http://www.signandsight.com/features/212.htm

together with a link to a translation of a related article on eating in London generally with some amusing sceptical comments about the Top 50 list and, in particular, the presence of 14 English (British?) restaurants therein.

There are slight differences between the German and English versions but, although generally admiring, he does not pull his punches and the mustard ice-cream at The Fat Duck is described as einen Furz von Nichtigkeit which translates as a fart of nothingness.

Recommended reading for many reasons - and may provoke some interesting reactions

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I'm not sure what I can add that hasn't already been said but this was our day at the Fat Duck and I loved it.

Would I eat there every day? No...

Would I find a plate of sausage & mash well done just as enjoyable, although in a different way? Yes...

Would I recommend it? Absolutely

For a once in a lifetime it was amazing. The combination of flavours and textures was something I have not experienced before. The wines were well chosen and presented a wonderful range of vintages and types of wine I might not have otherwise picked. The staff were all too willing to answer our endless questions, particularly the sommelier. Everything was beautifully plated and perfectly timed. I really have no complaints and don't begrudge a penny.

I would like to go back and try their lunch menu, which was also tempting and relatively affordable at £37.50 a head.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Personally, I find the excessive hype gets in the way of the food because it makes me doubt that Heston's motives are entirely gastronomic.

The excessive hype also gets on the waiters. They are so sure they serve the best food in the world that they don’t bother asking you whether you liked it or not. And if you dare mentioning any other restaurant (‘oh this mustard ice cream reminds me of l’Arpège’) you are quickly reminded you’re eating at a restaurant which ‘has been elected best in the world’ and so ‘many people copy [them]’.

there are only a handful of other restaurants working to comparable standards in the UK.

Ah here we go. This is what was meant: ‘best restaurant in the UK’ :-) By the way give me the choice between Midsummer House and the Fat Duck, no doubt I’ll choose Midsummer.

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A recent review of The Fat Duck (Die Fette Ende!) is typically dry and amusing and the origional version can be read at

http://www.zeit.de/2005/24/Siebeck_2fKolumne_London_1

Happily for the wider world an English translation is now also available at

http://www.signandsight.com/features/212.htm

When I think of my two experiences at the Fat Duck (March 2002 and yesterday) and read the comments of Wolfram Siebeck I can only agree.

We had the ‘chance’ of being seated next to the kitchen exit where you are welcomed with a strong cheese smell and where you can admire the whole plate polishing exercise. Other restaurants prefer to show you a view on the actual kitchen. On this table for four, I was squeezed between the table and one of the pillars; fortunately I’m slim. Never mind, let’s say it was cosy, and was probably better than seating at this other table, next to the entrance door, where, I suspect, one can feel the cold air from the outside, each time new customers enter.

At the Fat Duck, I finally understood what my English friends mean by ‘service tends to be rude and/or pedantic in France’. There were some prime examples here; so full of knowing they are ‘the best in the world’. Dishes were presented in such a serious and condescending way to us, ignorant customers who had the privilege of being served food. I could not help thinking of the amazing service at El Bulli where the touch of humour of the chef is not destructed by some snobby waiters. We were here to enjoy and play with flavours, textures, temperatures; not to be given a lesson. Add to this the stinginess on the bread (which is need if you don’t want to be starving after leaving the place) and the fact we were not asked whether things were alright. I think this service spoiled it all for me. Shame. On the positive side we were impressed by the relatively short time between each dish; but this is probably more an outstanding performance of the kitchen.

The tasting menu, of which about 50% of the dishes feature ice-cream or sorbet (another 50% with jellies) is a mix of perfected dishes and others which make you feel like a guinea pig. Of all the courses I’ll certainly remember one: salmon with liquorice; I was impressed by the texture of the salmon but also the way the grapefruit was served on the plate. However, and this is typical of most dishes, there were a lot of different strong flavours (liquorice, grapefruit, vanilla, asparagus) and I don’t understand the motivation. Same applies, for instance, to foie gras served with chives + almond + cherry + chamomile + amaretto. If anyone can explain I’d appreciate.

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  • 1 month later...

Disappointed. Was so looking forward.

1. Wait. We were ushered in. Nothing happened for 15 minutes. We just sat at the table - there's only so much you can say about a block of alfafa for table decoration. And here I was dying for an apertif...

2. Service. Maverick waiter. Didn't know whether to be bemused or annoyed. Think was bewildered more than anything else in the end. He took our orders with one hand resting on the back of my guest's chair, to the steady rhythm of bouncing his shoulder off the pillar. When asked whether one of my other guests could change the snail porridge on the tasting menu, the reply was (imagine raised eyebrow and tone that suggests why on earth would anyone eschew such a magnificent demonstration of creativity), 'Why?'. I wondered what he would have said if we told him she was allergic to green food...

3. Blackout. This is the best. We actually never got to experience any more of the Fat Duck's astonishing hospitality. Lights went out after the first dish. The whole village. Kaput. We sat around, laughing, then fidgeting, then wondering what was going to happen. 10 minutes later, a very pretty parade of candles streamed out of the kitchen. They were kind enough to waive any charge for the wine and little food we had already partaken of. Of course, after such generosity, they couldn't afford to avail any more candles or assistance to see us to our car...

4. Reservations. Mind-blowing. The guest-of-honour, for whom this had been a surprise dinner, left his card so that they could call him back instead of me (the original organiser) to arrange another date. Four weeks later, they called... guess who? Me. As I was abroad at the time, I asked them to call said guest-of-honour. Guess what? He never heard from them.

Summary: I'm not sure what to say... Magnificent leather-bound menus. Yes, that must be why they're so good. Had a pretty good meal at a nearby chinese takeout that night.

Edited by Ai Leen (log)

Fresh from London. Eating as always.

http://www.artisanedibles.blogspot.com

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Disappointed. Was so looking forward. . .

3. Blackout. This is the best. We actually never got to experience any more of the Fat Duck's astonishing hospitality.

Although I'm not the Fat Duck's biggest fan, I would ask, is it fair to base a review on this particular experience?

Presumably, the blackout wasn't an orchestrated part of Heston's mission to 'challenge our preconceptions' about three star meals.

Or was it?

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Although I'm not the Fat Duck's biggest fan, I would ask, is it fair to base a review on this particular experience?

No this was probably fifth time at the FD, over a period stretching back to the late-nineties.

Overall a number of clear service faults, even before the blackout occurred.

General consensus was that after the blackout front of house struggled to respond. Maybe this is unfair, but I feel that in these situations you really find out what the front of house is made of. The feeling I got was of a well-oiled machine used to doling out the degustation to spec, but which failed the test when confronting the unexpected.

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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I come and go on a whim Jon :wink:

I 'm just interested in what more they could have done, apart from walk them to the car by candlelight, possibly holding their hands?

Touch wood we haven't had a power cut in a while, but in the past, we have got the candles out, and struggled on with torch light untill it gets to hot to breath in the kitchen, and then we just stop.People have paid in the past, if they were at the end of their meal, otherwise it's just apologies, large brandys and try to see the funny side.

I did have a women very upset with me because i couldn't cook for her as we had no power, and she blamed held me resposible for the crap steak dinner she had at another restaurant which did have power.(Padstow has very funny eletrics, some shops will be cut off, some will not)

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It was a long one on the night in question, I seem to remember around 2 hours as we missed Holby and the second part of a good thriller. Perhaps heston could come up with a combination of ingredients which, when mixed, created a thermo-nuclear reaction and powered not only the Duck but the rest of the village.

Full marks to Heston for all those summer nights when the air-con in the kitchen has packed up and they have carried on regardless.

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at the 3 star level you would of course expect them to have back up generators, perhaps powered by the staff on treadmills?

I think that's against the law...

Wasn't upset about the blackout. Was upset about the service. :shock:

Edited by Ai Leen (log)

Fresh from London. Eating as always.

http://www.artisanedibles.blogspot.com

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