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The Fat Duck 2007


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Haven't we had this debate before?

About fifteen times if I recall...

In summation (off the top of my head)

1) No the FD tasting menu doesn't change much.

2) Yes, they can sub in dishes if you ask and/or arrange ahead (actually that's probably a newish data-point)

3) Yes they do tweak stuff and dishes are constantly evolving.

4) No Heston isn't as innovative in changing his dishes as a Pierre Gagnaire/Adria/Charlie Trotter.

5) Yes, there are other top-notch restos (e.g. the old Chez Nico) which don't change dishes very much.

6) Yes the dishes they have do taste quite nice.

7) Yes, we should remember there are other dishes on the alc (even if 90% of the dining room is going for the degustation). No 90% of us have never tried them.

8) Yes the invariant tasting menu does restrict the replay value of the place.

9) Yes it is a shame HB doesn't put more variation on, and he probably could do more if he tried given the lab set-up.

10) Yes the place has gotten a bit stuffier since the third star (NB the paving tile of a wine list, which probably required a small herd of frieisans to provide the leather binding).

11) No I don't know whether fear of michelin holds the place back from innovating.

12) No we're never going to agree on whether all this is good/bad reflects well/poorly on HB as a chef/bloke.

I think that covers most bases. Can we talk about something different please? (the stuff about how they make the quail jelly was good, though I think I heard the thing about them using zillions of quail carcasses to make the stock a few years back)

J

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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Haven't we had this debate before?

About fifteen times if I recall...

In summation (off the top of my head)

1) No the FD tasting menu doesn't change much.

2) Yes, they can sub in dishes if you ask and/or arrange ahead (actually that's probably a newish data-point)

3) Yes they do tweak stuff and dishes are constantly evolving.

4) No Heston isn't as innovative in changing his dishes as a Pierre Gagnaire/Adria/Charlie Trotter.

5) Yes, there are other top-notch restos (e.g. the old Chez Nico) which don't change dishes very much.

6) Yes the dishes they have do taste quite nice.

7) Yes, we should remember there are other dishes on the alc (even if 90% of the dining room is going for the degustation).  No 90% of us have never tried them.

8) Yes the invariant tasting menu does restrict the replay value of the place.

9) Yes it is a shame HB doesn't put more variation on, and he probably could do more if he tried given the lab set-up.

10) Yes the place has gotten a bit stuffier since the third star (NB the paving tile of a wine list, which probably required a small herd of frieisans to provide the leather binding).

11) No I don't know whether fear of michelin holds the place back from innovating.

12) No we're never going to agree on whether all this is good/bad reflects well/poorly on HB as a chef/bloke.

I think that covers most bases.  Can we talk about something different please?  (the stuff about how they make the quail jelly was good, though I think I heard the thing about them using zillions of quail carcasses to make the stock a few years back)

J

Given your summation, what else is there to talk about with this restaurant? :laugh::raz:

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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I had the tasting menu for the first time in Oct 2005. I went again with my girlfriend in Feb this year. I swapped in 5 dishes from the a la carte. So yes, they will do it, especially if you email ahead.

As for the experience, the restaurant is still untouchable for me. I went to Gagnaire in November and el Bulli two nights ago. Obviously a very subjective appraisal, but the FD wins hands down.

Everything I had had in 2007 was slightly better. Especially the sardines on toast, which I wasn't mad about before. The element of theatre injected by the oak moss forest floor misty smoke and the new bacon and eggs preparation was superb.

My only criticism is of the fish course. I wasn't mad about the salmon, and I didn't care for the turbot cooked sous vide this time. Turbot, for me, is about a tranche from an enormous fish, cooked on the bone until it is sticky and pearlescent. This wasn't it.

I am, however, frustrated about the lack of obvious change to the menu, even if there are many tiny changes behind the scenes. The tasting menu second time round was "better", but the first experience stands out for me as my "best meal ever". Some of the magic was lost. Which is inevitable.

I spoke to Heston in Feb, and he was frustrated himself at not being able to devote the time required for a major revamp. When a restaurant is cooking the best food in the country, I want to go back and try more of it. However, the a la carte is available, and there are things on there I haven't had yet. And Docsconz, you must go. It is superb.

But yes, I suppose this has all been said before. I agree with Jon - the quail chat was interesting. Any more nuggets of wisdom Magnus?

Edited by Andy Fenn (log)
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News from the Evening Standard website:

http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/restaurants/.../article.do

All sorts of new things to discuss...

The sound of the seashore and other associations are an interesting avenue in fine dining. Paul Liebrandt is another chef attuned to the role of sound in fine dining. From an interview I did with him last fall and available here.;

The sound of something could definitely change the way you feel about the experience. If it is too harsh or it is too noisy it might give you a headache. If it is a loud dining room where the acoustics are not very nice, these things can make a difference in the final outcome of a meal. So balancing all the five senses is very important. If you think about it, you do use all your senses when you eat in a dining environment like a restaurant.

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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We had a very nice time at the Fat Duck last Thursday.

Easily, (and well, at the cost, it should be,) the most enjoyable fine dining experience of my life.

I've put up the pictures I managed to get in one of my eGullet albums starting here:

Welcome to Maidenhead

I'll try to get a complete writeup done tonight and will properly link in the photos with the course names etc.

edit - Oops, posted link to image not album. I think the URL above should work and lead to actual food pictures.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Last year these questions were quite fitting, it did seem as if HB wasn't doing anything with the menu. I think one reason perhaps that the menu hasnt changed is because so many people havnt yet visited, and experienced the roughly original menu. Having said that, from the interviews ive read, the new plans with the sweet shop and website (something about spraying the scent of a sweet that you get sent to you in an atomiser with the sweets upon booking when you get to the restaurant sounds cheekily ingenius), and hopefully a new menu.

I plan on going upon my A Level results being good (fingers crossed) in a year or so's time, (AS at the mo) so it'd be nice to try both menus.

And the thing about LCS earlier, it is a very different beast. It is much more about usual french fine cooking, with its excellent modern twists. I can't wait to revisit it. It is an example of a menu which evolves quite often, DEM seemingly comes up with his menu the evening and morning before, based on what he has, which seems a good way of doing things.

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Dinner for 4, Fat Duck, Brea, UK.

As advised we took the train out from London to Maidenhead.

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Unfortunately, while waiting for other friends to arrive only found a boring chain pub (The Bell).

Cab to the Fat Duck. After some early disagreements about Champagne, (Fear of Rosé!) our party went with the NV Tattinger to open, and then ordered the tasting menu with accompanying wines.

While we discussed we were given what appeared to be house cured olives and the choice of brown or white bread.

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Starters

First course was the "Nitro-Green Tea and Lime Mousse" prepared tableside. Unfortunately, I blew the picture of this one. A spoonful of green tea, egg white, and lime is quick frozen table side in a bowl of liquid nitrogen. Quite refreshing.

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We were then served a pair of jellies. One beetroot, one orange. Our server suggested we enjoy, "the orange one first." Amusingly, the orange colored jelly is beetroot and the red colored jelly orange. Of course he followed up by asking which we enjoyed most, orange or beet.

Next dish was the Oyster, Passion Fruit Jelly, Lavendar.

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Pommery Grain Mustard Ice Cream, Red Cabbage Gazpacho

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We weren't at all sure what to expect with this one; but, the flavors again combine nicely. Whoever is doing the smaller than Brunoise on the vegetable in the "Gazpacho" deserves a medal of honor.

Jelly of Quail, Langoustine Cream, Parfait of Fois Gras, Oak Moss, and Truffle Toast (Homage to Alain Chapel)

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Magnus describes this dish up-topic. It was one of the true standouts among an evening of stand out dishes. Just an amazing combination of flavors and textures.

Manzanilla en Rama, Barbadillo(Sherry)

Snail Porridge, Joselito Ham, Shaved Fennel

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2004 Vin de Pays des cotes catalanes, Le Soula, G. Gauby, Roussillon.

We greeted the snail porridge with a small amount of trepidation, as none of us are huge Escargot fans. Well, actually, I'm not sure how many of us had tried that particular mollusc previous to this evening. The trepidation was completely unfounded and the snails tender and delicious.

Roast Fois Gras, Almond fluid gel, cherry and chamomile

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2003 Vinoptima Gewurztraminer Reserve, Gisborne

Another course that had us oooing and ah-ing. Simply the most delicious fois I've ever been served.

Sound of the Sea

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Rashiku Ginjo-Sake, Yamatogawa

Various sea creatures and vegetables accompanied by a foam and "sand". After the richness of the fois, this was a nice change.

Salmon Poached with Liquorice, Pertuis Asparagus, Pink Grapefruit, 'Manni' Olive Oil

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2001 Quinta Da Falorca Reserva, Dao

I was ambivalent about this one. Not so much the flavor, which was quite nice; but, the texture of the "liquorice" coating. It was just a bit too firm. Reminded me of plastic or rubber.

Best End of Lamb, Puree of onion and thyme

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Seems like this one may have morphed slightly from the description on the printed menu. In any case a delicious presentation of lamb. The little napoleon-like stack was particularly delicious.

1995 Amarone Della Valpolicella Classico, Masi, Veneto

Selection of Cheese

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I went for one stinky one whose name I forget, the most delicious rouquefort I've ever had, and a very nice fresh goat cheese.

Hot and Iced Tea

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I found this more interesting than compelling. Nonetheless a nice change of beverage from the wines. Of course, that won't stop me from shortly stealing this concept for a cocktail idea I have.

Mrs Marshall's Margaret Cornet

I missed getting picture of this dessert. It was a pleasing sherbert in an edible sugar cone. It was accompanied by a leaflet containing information about the ground breaking food writer and ice cream maker Mrs. Marshall.

Pine Sherbet Fountain

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Apparently, this is a version of a candy the Chef enjoyed as a boy. Here in the US, I'll admit to enjoying both "Pixie Stix" and the salaciously named "Lick 'Em Stix" as a child. Another one I found more interesting than compelling.

Mango and Douglas Fir Puree, Bavarois of lychee and mango, blackcurrant sorbet

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Schneiderberger Riesling Eiswein, Weinviertel

As the desserts go, this one was a home run for me.

Carrot and Orange Tuile, Beetroot Jelly

Missed getting a picture of these. The Tuile is on a stick like a lollypop, and the Beetroot Jelly also served personally.

Parsnip Chips, Parsnip Milk

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An amusing and tasty diversion.

Nitro-Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, Pain Perdu and tea jelly

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NV, Buller, Fine Old Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria

More dinner theater. A delicious pain perdu, bacon ice cream, and candied "bacon".

Whisky Wine Gum, Violet Tartelet

The texture of these were quite interesting. I don't know enough about the various modern thickeners to tell you which it was. As they dissolved they seemed to coat your mouth with flavor. The Scotch whiskey jelly was quite intense as was the violet.

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Sadly, then came the bill. Fortunately, we had been so well satiated that I should be able to ignore how many Dollars the Pounds translate into, until my credit card bill arrives later this month.

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I'm afraid the world did look a bit like this after...

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...and the near perfection of many of these courses has really spoiled me (for the time being) on mediocre restaurant fare.

edit - add beetroot and orange jelly picture.

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Nitro-Scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, Pain Perdu and tea jelly

gallery_27569_3448_33446.jpg

gallery_27569_3448_24221.jpg

NV, Buller, Fine Old Muscat, Rutherglen, Victoria

More dinner theater.  A delicious pain perdu, bacon ice cream, and candied "bacon".

Well, this answers one of my questions upthread: Does the tweaking of the menu lead to significant differences to the diner? In this case, this is wildly different (in appearance at least) to the bacon and egg ice-cream I enjoyed a couple of years ago. There was no candied bacon, and the egg didn't look anything like the scrambled egg here. In truth, this looks way cooler than the dish I had.

Si

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Please don't tell me you eat that pot of steaming moss, no infact tell me you do :unsure:

I agree Simon the new appearance of the bacon and egg looks better, more like how I would normally eat my baon, egg and toast; all on top of each other.

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Please don't tell me you eat that pot of steaming moss, no infact tell me you do :unsure:

I agree Simon the new appearance of the bacon and egg looks better, more like how I would normally eat my baon, egg and toast; all on top of each other.

Chuckle, no that is just for smell. They also give you a forest flavor "film" and instruct you to put that on your tongue before they pour the liquid onto the moss.

I really enjoyed that they explicitly used scent as part of the meal. They also sprayed a bit of lime scent into the air while we were enjoying the frozen lime mousse.

I didn't really talk about the wine pairings; but, they were astoundingly well chosen and quite generous. After the amazing wine parings at Manresa last year, and this dinner, I've really come around to the idea of letting the sommelier do the work for me. There is absolutely no way I could have chosen as well. And frankly, the by the glass prices for all the wine we enjoyed would have well exceeded the cost of the pairing. Also, in this case, the inclusion of a very nice Manzanilla sherry for the "appetizer" courses was a pleasant surprise. After some initial resistance, I've started to quite enjoy sherry in some settings.

The service staff were also a real joy to interact with. Some parts of the evening seemed obviously scripted, almost a confluence of dinner and theatre. On the whole, though, they seemed to be having almost as fun serving these unusual items, as the patrons did partaking of them.

Sadly, my iPod was defective, so I didn't really get the full effect of "Sound of the Sea". To me, something subtler would be more effective. Directional speakers, with a very quiet ambient soundtrack timed to each table's courses?

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Sadly, my iPod was defective, so I didn't really get the full effect of "Sound of the Sea".  To me, something subtler would be more effective.  Directional speakers, with a very quiet ambient soundtrack timed to each table's courses?

Or mayby they could stick one of these under the table and time it with the serving?

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Sadly, my iPod was defective, so I didn't really get the full effect of "Sound of the Sea".  To me, something subtler would be more effective.  Directional speakers, with a very quiet ambient soundtrack timed to each table's courses?

This was the same thing that popped into my mind when I read this. Similar to what Alinea had planned to do. Were those ear buds? Do they change that pads after each diner? I don't want someone else's ear wax in my ears. That's unappetizing.

Gastronomic Fight Club - Mischief. Mayhem. Soup.

Foodies of Omaha - Discover the Best of Omaha

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Mugaritz has a similar style of trying to enhance the dining experience by appealing to memories - the menu contains small descriptions of what kind of thoughts a dish might evoke and ceratin dishes are accompanies by cards with short messages. Pretty pompous but interesting nonetheless - didn't work for me at all on a sensory level but I supopose it did increase the theatre of the meal which is probably half the point.

An example from the webiste: "As the sea has its limits, its confine, its bounds and ends on the sands and the pebbles and the rocks of the coast, of the seashores. There it breaks, it crashes, it calms and even the worst, the most thunderous and vain of storms end".

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The new "Sounds of the Sea" looks interesting, but almost identical to a dish I had at Akelare in San Sebastian last year. A salty sea "foam" was served with seaweed & various crustaceans. No "sand" or I-Pod though, but definately the same concept!

Lee

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sadly the W4 forum is one full of people with too much time on their hands. There is a real clique that has formed on there where people do their damndest to damage businesses and pick arguaments with people. It is one of the most synical and negative forums that I have had the displeasure to know. Not that I have an opinion on the matter of course!

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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