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Zoticus

The Fat Duck 2007

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My wife decided, since we'll be in England for her birthday this year, that we should splurge at The Fat Duck.

After a mammoth phone dialing session our friends in England were lucky enough to get reservations.

I'm wondering how formal it is?

Tux? Suit? Sport Jacket? Nice shirt? Tie?

Also, as something of a cocktail enthusiast, I was wondering if any of bartender Tony Conigliaro's collaborations with Blumenthal ever made it to the menu?


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Very relaxed for a 3* place; definitely not a tux place! Most people were in suits without ties when I went.

No cocktails on the menu but no idea whether they can make you one.

As a note, seen that the pidgeon dish has been replaced on the menu by the lamb from the a la carte. Shame. I really enjoyed it.

Adam

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I even observed an entire table of four gentlemen once (in the local slang one would say "lads"), all in Jeans and trainers, with their shirts untucked, no jackets whatsoever. This seemed to be entirely acceptable at the Fat Duck which after all used to be a village pub not too long ago. A few yards round the corner in the other three star place they most likely would have gone into trouble for this kind of appearance!

Regarding cocktails, as part of the wine menu going with the tasting menu, there used to be a Bucks Fizz, out of all things.

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Since some people who work at the "fat duck" seem to participate in this forum: why is it that the tasting menu has been basically the same for the past 2, 3 (or more??) years?

I mean: take a look at colleagues in france, germany, the US and -above all- spain...

Don't get me wrong, Iam honestly curious.

But with all due respect: something like "diners still love it" or "there are 'nough potential customers who still have to try it for the first time" should not be an answer for a chef who calls himself "creative". And a 3 year old menu can hardly be called "avant garde" anymore...

But of course, I stand corrected...

Thanks alot

Best

kai

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I certainly don't work there but do eat there regularly.Whilst the names of many of the dishes haven't changed it would be wrong to think that the dishes themselves don't change.On the other hand, the staff never seem to object to changing the tasting menu to suit with dishes from the ALC so why not try something different.

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Hmm, okay, you really think I can walk in there and say: "Sorry, but I had this tasting menu twice now - so could you please put together a completely different tasting menu for us from the a la carte menu? (for fixed tasting-menu-price of course)"

I don't think so.

Apart from that I still find it strange not to change a menu within 3 or so years...

best

kai

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Apart from that I still find it strange not to change a menu within 3 or so years...

I seem to remember the tasting menu coming in after the big refit. This was around 2001. That means that the tasting menu is six, rather than three, years old.

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This doesn't address the question of whether they'll put together a whole new menu for a diner, but I can say that on our one visit to the restaurant they were very accommodating about replacing a dish on the tasting with one from the a la carte menu.

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Yeah, but to change one or two dishes from a large tasting menu is standard.

I just can't understand how a world class chef like Blumenthal just won't (or can't???) come up with something new after years and years with the same stuff on the list...

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Yeah, but to change one or two dishes from a large tasting menu is standard.

I just can't understand how a world class chef like Blumenthal just won't (or can't???) come up with something new after years and years with the same stuff on the list...

As I recall reading some time ago, Nico managed 19 years with only tweaking his menus, also Grant Achatz says somewhere amongst the Alinea thread that Thomas Keller strives for the perfect dish, and when he gets it right it stays on the menu for good.

I understand where all the comments about lack of change come from (it has been brought up many times througout this thread), but a lot of the changes are more subtle throughout either presentation or methods of producing different items on the dish. and some of the ingredients they are working with can take a couple of years to research before even making it into a sauce, that to be honest, unless you are a die-hard regular you may not notice that the sauce has a more intense flavour or a slightly smoother feel than last visit. personally I would love to eat there more, but my gripe is I simply cannot justify £115 per head on a return visit to a restaurant.

Due to the nature of what i do, I try and diversify where i eat, and my wife nor kids would understand a £500 bill for 2 (with the wine selection & service charge). quite simply too expensive.

the main point of this is, if a majority of people felt the same as kai-m, booking a table would be a simple affair and not a 2 months in advance 1/2 hour "bun-fight" on the phones


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

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the main point of this is, if a majority of people felt the same as kai-m, booking a table would be a simple affair and not a 2 months in advance 1/2 hour "bun-fight" on the phones

Another point might be whether Michelin will continue to feel that The Fat Duck shows enough of the "originality and innovation" required at the 3 star level.

Personally I'm surprised that he doesn't do a "classic" menu of the old favourites and a new tasting menu (perhaps changing every 3-6 months given their lead time for dishes) - however his current system is clearly working for him at the moment so there's probably not much incentive to change.

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however his current system is clearly working for him at the moment so there's probably not much incentive to change.

I think so, too.

But from a creative viewpoint this is simply embarrassing...

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I have not yet had the pleasure of dining at The Fat Duck so if and when I do it will all be new (and I expect) wonderful to me, but I must concur that for someone who has built his reputation as being on the cutting edge it is rather surprising that his edge appears to have become quite dull. The example of Thomas Keller was cited above. Yes, he has some menu stalwarts such as the salmon tartar cornets and oysters and pearls that he maintains as signatures, but the rest of the menu continues to evolve and change. This is true of most of the top chefs that I am familiar with.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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There is a basic misapprehension here of what Heston is doing. I've written about this on this thread before, and this will probably be the last time for me. If you're looking for Heston to fulfill the Achatz paradigm of twenty dishes a month, or even that of Adria or a new menu each year, then you're not understanding what he's trying to do. As far as these sorts of labels like avant guarde - they're something that get placed on him, they're not something he tends to place on himself, so it's slightly ludicrous to say he isn't living up them. It's not something he aspires to.

If you want an analogy, think about Achilles in Zeno's paradox. Heston's menu is constantly changing, but in ways that may not be apparent to you. He puts a huge amount of work into each dish. It's rare that any dish is finished. When there is a change, it's not often something you notice, if eating the dish only once or even twice, because like Achilles, he's still only moving between two points, being the first conception of the dish and that same dish when he thinks it's finished. Which is very very rare.

After all, he's built an entire lab for research. I've spent a little time there. It's not as if it's empty when people like me aren't hanging around - they're constantly working, constantly experimenting. Other chefs are traveling from around the world to work with them and share ideas (Albert Adria, Wylie Dufresne, David Kinch). Whether it lives up to a general sense of movement as defined by other chefs is neither here nor there.

I'm not here to defend the method, only to point out that there is one.

So it goes. (KV - Rip)


"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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There is a basic misapprehension here of what Heston is doing... If you're looking for Heston to fulfill the Achatz paradigm of twenty dishes a month, or even that of Adria or a new menu each year, then you're not understanding what he's trying to do.

This is the problem for many people. On the one hand there are the apologists like yourself, who fend off critics with an ad hominem charge of incomprehension (likening HB's method to Zeno's paradox isn't going to convince anyone who isn't already convinced, btw). On the other, there are those who claim HB hasn't done anything meaningful for several years, which is equally likely to be untrue.

Surely the truth lies somewhere between these poles; namely, HB is doing interesting stuff, but given the researchers and the lab and the near static menu, he's just not doing as much as he could (and perhaps, should) do.

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Surely the truth lies somewhere between these poles; namely, HB is doing interesting stuff, but given the researchers and the lab and the near static menu, he's just not doing as much as he could (and perhaps, should) do.

Seriously, though, what does he do? I'm genuinely curious. It may indeed be the case that he's perfecting dishes all the time, but I'm not really sure what this means. I'm more than willing to accept that there's always some aspect being improved, but are we talking about minutiae that are only really relevant to HB, or are we talking about changes that directly reflect on the dining experience?

Sometimes I wonder if Fat Duck isn't a victim of its own success. It's hard to take risks when the restaurant is full every night and three stars remain next to the name in The Guide. Is HB having more fun in his gastropub restaurant, for example?

Si

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Hands up those who have tried all the dishes on the menu so far?

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Two Hands if you can afford to!!


I went into a French restaraunt and asked the waiter, 'Have you got frog's legs?' He said, 'Yes,' so I said, 'Well hop into the kitchen and get me a cheese sandwich.'

Tommy Cooper

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Hands up those who have tried all the dishes on the menu so far?

what ever happend to choice?

Anyway - don't know if I've had all the dishes but I’ve certainly had quite a few. But don't know if I'd want to try all the dishes as there are some meats/fish that I just don't like no matter how well/inventive the cooking.

What is a real big disappointment is the tasting menu second time 'round. Stunning the first time I had it but a bit predictable and lacking in spark next time. (Also – I think the salmon & liquorice was the strongest & best dish).

The constant tinkering of the dishes is fine – but its just that – tinkering and I think its a real shame that FD doesn't change its menu more often, if at all, as they are in danger of marginalising past customers who want to return more often. I’m sure there are enough people who want to try it at least once to keep the place going for a while I believe that anything which doesn’t adapt or change is doomed to failure. I’m sure there are exceptions (eg Nico, as noted above) just not sure this place is exceptional enough.

The one big change that seems to have happened is that the portions do look smaller

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The constant tinkering of the dishes is fine – but its just that – tinkering

You're right, it's minimum.

Sadly, for diners, HB has become convinced by his own carefully generated press, OBE, and, (mainly deserved, but disproportionately) moist press attention, and has jumped the gun about five years on becoming the Great British Institution he surely would have become anyway. The TV show, the books, the seemingly endless repetition of the same tropes on the cheffy conference circuit, and, dare I say it, the nascent smugness.

He should have dedicated a few more years to confirming his culinary promise via his menu, and vindicating those who championed him instead of handing over the ropes to his team, spending hours in the gym, and indulging his tanorexia.

Mind you, I'd probably do the same if I were him.

On another, fanfare and PR free, note, le Champignon Sauvage puts the FD to shame in terms of culinary delight. I was dragged along there the other day expecting an HB clone. How wrong I was. Here's a guy who actually seems to enjoy cooking too much to turn turn himself into a brand.

Can it be concluded that HB is no longer interested in cooking?


Edited by Zoticus (log)

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The constant tinkering of the dishes is fine – but its just that – tinkering

You're right, it's minimum.

Sadly, for diners, HB has become convinced by his own carefully generated press, OBE, and, (mainly deserved, but disproportionately) moist press attention, and has jumped the gun about five years on becoming the Great British Institution he surely would have become anyway. The TV show, the books, the seemingly endless repetition of the same tropes on the cheffy conference circuit, and, dare I say it, the nascent smugness.

He should have dedicated a few more years to confirming his culinary promise via his menu, and vindicating those who championed him instead of handing over the ropes to his team, spending hours in the gym, and indulging his tanorexia.

Mind you, I'd probably do the same if I were him.

On another, fanfare and PR free, note, le Champignon Sauvage puts the FD to shame in terms of culinary delight. I was dragged along there the other day expecting an HB clone. How wrong I was. Here's a guy who actually seems to enjoy cooking too much to turn turn himself into a brand.

Can it be concluded that HB is no longer interested in cooking?

to reply some of the many questions on this thread from my own point of view.

on changing the menu

The original fat duck tasting meny is a couple of years old and has been tweaked and perfected to a stage that dishes has transformed in a way that is very rare in culinary history, chefs (sometimes as high standard as ***) put up dishes on the meny like they were already perfect product. think about it, they are maybe tested in the kitchen/lab but not in the restaurant on the customers. And this take time.

As an example the quail jelly was inspired by an exeptional dish made by Alain Chapel in the early eightees and was originally made from pigeon. The consomme itself has changed enourmously from a traditionaly cooked and clarified consomme set by its own gelatine (a bit inconsistent). And it is now cooked on minced whole quials (!) inported from france cooked in a pressure cooker and 2h and then clarified with ice filtration wich removes the gelatine and then gelatine is added back in the consomme when it is to set in the bowl for a far superior product than the original product. the dish has moved on and is now served with a truffle and oakmoss toast made from the essence of the tree that truffles like to live underneath. we also pour over hot liquid over a bed with oakmoss planted with dry ice by the table so the whole room fills with the aroma. you also get a oakmoss strip to melt on your tounge to prepare your palette. I cant think of any chef that can come up with a dish like this without leave it on the meny and constantly think what can we do to impove it.

the meny is now changing 2007 and it is also a "brittish alternative menu" on the way of wich i cant speak.

Can it be concluded that HB is no longer interested in cooking?

Heston is currently writing three cookbooks running two restaurants and recording a second series of perfection and is changing the menu at the duck so it must defend him .

and 2007 will also give way to fatduck website/sweetshop.

Magnus

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on changing the menu

The original fat duck tasting meny is a couple of years old and has been tweaked and perfected to a stage that dishes has transformed in a way that is very rare in culinary history, chefs (sometimes as high standard as ***) put up dishes on the meny like they were already perfect product. think about it, they are maybe tested in the kitchen/lab but not in the restaurant on the customers. And this take time.

Thanks for this Magnus.

I don't agree that HB is the only chef who tweaks and improves stuff on his menu, but he is one of the few who makes a fetish of doing so. Your view characterizes the generous approach, a less generous critic might say that HB's repertoire is limited.

the meny is now changing 2007 and it is also a "brittish alternative menu" on the way of wich i cant speak.

Sounds interesting, and not before time.

Can it be concluded that HB is no longer interested in cooking?

Heston is currently writing three cookbooks running two restaurants and recording a second series of perfection and is changing the menu at the duck so it must defend him.

To a certain extent, you have answered the question.

By the way, what is he going to put into three cookbooks? Or will they be like the last one with only eight recipes in each?

and  2007 will also give way to fatduck website/sweetshop.

Can't wait.

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My apologies for the ad hominem. To possibly repeat it, and I don't say this applies to you, I find that many in arguing against Heston argue against the media's portrayal of him rather than his portrayal of himself. It makes any sensible argument for or against his cuisine - or rather, separating the cuisine in isolation and arguing about that (which would be a marvellous and worthwhile thing to do) somewhat difficult.

on changing the menu

The original fat duck tasting meny is a couple of years old and has been tweaked and perfected to a stage that dishes has transformed in a way that is very rare in culinary history, chefs (sometimes as high standard as ***) put up dishes on the meny like they were already perfect product. think about it, they are maybe tested in the kitchen/lab but not in the restaurant on the customers. And this take time.

Thanks for this Magnus.

I don't agree that HB is the only chef who tweaks and improves stuff on his menu, but he is one of the few who makes a fetish of doing so.

Very nicely put.

In this same paradigm, though from the other side, I am told that Passard is still serving dishes unchanged from 10 or 15 years ago, and several are ubiquitous. His menu is measurably static. But the criticism rarely addresses this (I thnk Francois Simon may have weighed in, but that's all I've heard of).

By the way, what is he going to put into three cookbooks? Or will they be like the last one with only eight recipes in each?

one is reminded of your ad hominem admonition.


Edited by MobyP (log)

"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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My apologies for the ad hominem. To possibly repeat it, and I don't say this applies to you, I find that many in arguing against Heston argue against the media's portrayal of him rather than his portrayal of himself. It makes any sensible argument for or against his cuisine - or rather, separating the cuisine in isolation and arguing about that (which would be a marvellous and worthwhile thing to do) somewhat difficult.
on changing the menu

The original fat duck tasting meny is a couple of years old and has been tweaked and perfected to a stage that dishes has transformed in a way that is very rare in culinary history, chefs (sometimes as high standard as ***) put up dishes on the meny like they were already perfect product. think about it, they are maybe tested in the kitchen/lab but not in the restaurant on the customers. And this take time.

Thanks for this Magnus.

I don't agree that HB is the only chef who tweaks and improves stuff on his menu, but he is one of the few who makes a fetish of doing so.

Very nicely put.

In this same paradigm, though from the other side, I am told that Passard is still serving dishes unchanged from 10 or 15 years ago, and several are ubiquitous. His menu is measurably static. But the criticism rarely addresses this (I thnk Francois Simon may have weighed in, but that's all I've heard of).

By the way, what is he going to put into three cookbooks? Or will they be like the last one with only eight recipes in each?

one is reminded of your ad hominem admonition.

Clearly there are many restaurants that are static in their menu. What sets HB apart for criticism on this count is that he is such a visible standard bearer for creative, hypermodern, vanguard, avant-garde cuisine (choose your label :wacko: ) that expectations for continued creativity and inventiveness are high as his principle stylistic peers are clearly doing so. I would still love to get there at some point to sample what he has done. In fact, I would like to do so before he does change the menu!


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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In this same paradigm, though from the other side, I am told that Passard is still serving dishes unchanged from 10 or 15 years ago, and several are ubiquitous. His menu is measurably static. But the criticism rarely addresses this (I thnk Francois Simon may have weighed in, but that's all I've heard of).
This is an interesting issue and debate and does indeed cross the channel and probably the pond.

I'm not sure how we'd discuss it and where, but certainly there are restos in France where one goes because one wants to repeat what one had 40 years ago (for example quenelles de brochet with Nantua sauce at the Hotel de France or potato galette at l'Ami Louis) and attract Americans for just this reason, versus places that close or tank because they never change the carte, regardless of season (for example, Les Jumeaux in the 11th).


John Talbott

blog John Talbott's Paris

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