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The Fat Duck 2009


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JudyB, in answer to your question in GBM.

As from the 30th June the A la Carte which is being dropped is being replaced by?????

Absolutely nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Its being dropped quite simply because 98% of diners choose the tasting menu.

It was intimated that they may change/add ? a few of the courses on the tasting.

We are having the tasting next week :biggrin:

Countdown begins today :smile:

PS They are still fully booked for two months although you can put you name down for a cancellation

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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My choice is simply to enjoy what is deemed to be considered to be the best available food in the British Isles and indeed some may consider the best in the world.

For a chef to reach the status that Heston Blumenthal has, who am I to question his skill in presenting his "best dishes" in tasting format.

Go with the flow,98% can't be wrong.

I know you will differ!

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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JudyB, in answer to your question in GBM.

As from the 30th June the A la Carte which is being dropped is being replaced by?????

Absolutely nothing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Its being dropped quite simply because 98% of diners choose the tasting menu.

It was intimated that they may change/add ? a few of the courses on the tasting.

We are having the tasting next week  :biggrin:

Countdown begins today  :smile:

PS  They are still fully booked for two months although you can put you name down for a cancellation

I think this change could be very positive. The menu had got a bit moribund so hopefully by concentrating on the menu and dropping the ALC we may see it being reinvigorated with Heston ringing the changes from day to day; as other chefs do with their menus.

Heston's philosophy based on the psychology of eating and his take on he whole experience of the meal makes a lot more sense within the confines of a set menu. But like a rock band it must be tricky reproducing the greatest hits night after night as that is what the punters want to experience. I would have been quite frustrated if I hadn't enjoyed some of the famous classics on my visit; but that said I wouldn't return unless the menu changed.

One thought on his rumoured London opening. Maybe he will follow Ferran Adria's lead and keep one restaurant for innovation (The FD) and other restaurant for a greatest hits menu. Adria has El Bulli for innovation with no repetition from season to season, and La Alqueria (near Seville) which does the dishes from the back catalogue, and is staffed by some of the top talent from Roses and sometimes Adria in the El Bulli off season.

Edited by PhilD (log)
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I don't really understand your comment about cooking to order.

i assume he means that the kitchen doesn't know what to expect until the orders come in, and there is some challenge and need to be on top of their game.

If you're a chef at the fat duck i think you know pretty much what you'll be cooking before you get to work as the majority will be tasters and there is the temptation to lapse into the comfort zone, if you're cooking 40 courses the same 2 services a day....

a taster only menu works well from a kitchen point of view and a consistency level but removes perhaps some of the 'je ne sais quoi' of going to a top class restaurant. i still have them, but i'm a bit more selective about where i do now.

i fear the fat duck is like the le manoir becoming a foodie tourist destination where everyone eats the same and drinks the same, just not for me.

I think matched wines are also more for the restaurants benefit too but that's another topic.

you don't win friends with salad

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If they will be offering the Tasting menu only, then there will be no point in eating there more frequently then they change the menu. If you've had the snail porridge, more snail on porridge, then why would you want to have it again some time later ? Looking at the tasting menu, it changes very little year-on-year, in fact, the only clear change I can see is the Sound of the Sea, everything else is exactly the same or a negligible tweak. So maybe the vast majority who go there and order the tasting menu are one-time destination visitors who have this menu and don't return to try the ALC. Maybe other places which specialise in a tasting menu, such as those mentioned above, change their dishes frequently, such as El Bulli. So FD will have to start making regular changes to their tasting menu !

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Confirmed for May 29 - after two years of trying, I scored a table thanks to eGullet poster LornaC, whose friends had to cancel.

I only live a few miles down the road - Henley - and I can't wait. Will post back on how it went.

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Confirmed for May 29 - after two years of trying, I scored a table thanks to eGullet poster LornaC, whose friends had to cancel.

I only live a few miles down the road - Henley - and I can't wait. Will post back on how it went.

Lucky you, my two month wait ended today, we have just walked through the door after our lunch today :smile:

Before I comment, I need to think about the experience a little more as quite a lot happened during the three and a half hour marathon :biggrin:

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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For what it's worth, I recall from my lunch two years ago that the folks there were really very accomodating when they let me and my wife order whatever we wanted. If memory serves me right, it was pretty much a la carte ordering from more than one tasting menu since there were dishes I had read about that weren't all on the same menu. Fat Duck is really a very nice place and we had one of the best meals we have had in several years.

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For the benefit of those who were interested in returning to eat the a la carte, this is todays, to salivate over.

STARTERS

Crab biscuit, Roast Foie Gras, Crystalized Seaweed, Rhubarb.

Cauliflower Risotto, Carpaccio of Cauliflower, Chocolate Jelly.

Lasagne of Langoustine, Pigs Trotter and Truffle.

MAIN

Best end of Lamb,Ice filtered Lamb jelly, Confit Tomato and Cucumber, Onion and Thyme Fluid Gel, Hot Pot of Lamb Neck and Sweetbread.

Pot Roast Loin of Pork, braised belly, truffled gratin of Pearled Spelt

Roast Turbot, mushroom carpaccio, Morels, Asparagras and Jelly of Verjus, Turbot and Langoustine Royale.

Sadle of Venison, Celeriac, Marron Glace', Sauce Poivrade, Civet of Venison with Pearl Barley and Red Wine, Venison and Frankincence Tea.

DESSERTS

The BFG, Black Forest Gateau, Kirsch Ice Cream, and the smell of the Black Forest.

Taffety Tart 1662, Caramelized Apple, Fennel, Rose and Candied Lemon.

Macerated Strawberries, Black Olive and leather puree, pistachio scrambled egg.

CHEESE, available as an additional course at £15.

Three Courses, Ninety Eight Pounds.

Interestingly enough the starters and mains are the same as on the web site, however two of the desserts are different.

As a further interest the Langoustine and Pot Roast on the website attract an eight pound supplement, but on todays menu that is not mentioned.

The restaurant was of course full, and included one lone lady diner with a heavyweight serious looking camera, she was not on her own in that respect, I counted another three at least.

It also looked to me that everyone was on the tasting menu, certainly those within our immediate vicinity.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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For the benefit of those who were interested in returning to eat the a la carte, this is todays, to salivate over.

Three observations:

1) The alc is already shorter than it used to be. There used to be five-ish courses on each course.

2) NB if you order alc you still generally (or at least you used to) get various starters pre starters and in between bits. So to be honest you're not massively missing out versus degustation.

3) Although bear in mind you could still pretty much order two full alcs per head and come out with the same bill as degustation at a French three star (I figure the going rate is now 220 Euros or 220 quid including service, versus 196 quid for two alcs at Fat Duck?).

With regard to Robyns reservations about going degustation, I would tend to agree, but point out there are broadly two species of dg in posh restaurants.

a) The "theme park" dg which is pretty inflexible and is generally priced at a EUR30 premium to the alc. Very much cashing in due to a) lower wastage and b) the fact you don't generally get more food than the alc (in fact often you get less), you just get slightly more choice (invariable a foie gras starter, a shellfish starter, a turbot based main and a beef/lamb/venison main). Fat Duck, Gordon Ramsay and Le Manoir are good exemplars of this.

b) The "alc en demi" dg where you basically take the alc but split the starter and main en demi so you get four courses not two. This is generally better value, less "theme park" style and more original/varied. This is more common in French kitchens (where I think there is generally a higher skill level and more ability to be flexible like this). Not usual in UK.

I would not go for a), but b) is normally a decent bet.

J

Edited by Jon Tseng (log)
More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!
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With the benefit of having now dined there, I feel that I am in a far better position to comment than before, so here goes.

I can only imagine that even the most serious of foodies would plump for the tasting menu, just for the curiosity value alone.We are talking first visit here.

There did seem to be quite a number of "celebration people" in our part of the room, including the couple next to us who were on a honeymoon treat.

They were intrigued to know what the difference was between, one, two, and three, Michelin stars.

Inevitably, I suppose, they had the tasting menu.

They absolutely loved the event, although had mixed feelings on the food

We of course had the tasting menu, as it was our first time, but would we take it again?

Most certainly not!

For a number of reasons.

A large part of the "event" is the theatre involved in presenting some of the dishes. Inevitably because of the close proximity of the tables, and of course the staggered dining times, the guest has mostly witnessed some of the theatre at other tables.

thats not to say its not fun, it most certainly is.

Although once you have seen it two or three times, that is enough, just imagine what its like for the wait staff!

The portion sizes are the smallest we have encountered anywhere, a number of them are miniscule.

My wife has now, got a bee in her bonnet over portion sizes and was most upset on our long journey home, claiming still to be hungry.

We feel that the meal is unbalanced in as much as we were craving meat.

The Anjou pigeon was delicious, but no where near as much.

I'm not into wine, I enjoy it, but I have had bottles costing an arm and a leg and quite frankly had more fun out of a "Supermarket wines" recommendation.

That said everything on the FD list should be at the top of the tree. so to speak.

We prefer red, so (and because of the long drive) ordered a bottle of Bouscasse 2002 and a half bottle of white, Sancerre Vatan, both recommends by the very nice and approachable sommelier.

I feel it should have been the other way around as the only real body of the meal was the pigeon.

On reflection, my mistake.

I am sorry if the negative above conveys a feeling of dissatisfaction, in the main the experience is superb, top notch tried and tested theatrics, a success story, and much to be proud of, but I think that the 98% of people who eat the tasting menu will only ever eat it the once.

As a post script, I would still order the tasting menu on a first visit here, but from a curiosity point of view

I would love to eat what the kitchen produces from the carte menu, sadly now that will not be possible.

I will comment on the food in more detail, another time.

Edited by david goodfellow (log)

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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It sounds interesting David. I'm really excited about seeing it first hand - hoping it won't be an anti-climax, although I'm not going to go there actively seeking problems!

You will love it,

As we did. :biggrin:

Its THE dining event in the UK.

Perhaps I'm being too picky, with a higher than average expectation level.

We (she) really has a downer on portion size, the argument is that some components are pence to put on a plate.

Go with an open mind, don't read too much comment on here, as the surprises are worth waiting for.

Enjoy.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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I did notice one flash only going off, I think they were "advised" after that.

You are correct; the FD doesn't allow flash and they will tell you (not me one of my dining companions).

Glad you enjoyed the meal. Surprised your wife wasn't full after the meal. It was certainly enough for me....although a few cheeky halves in the Hinds Head may have helped...!

Agree that it is a once only experience. That is why I hope that in dropping the ALC the tasting menu will be revamped and get fresher. I didn't go with my partner and I am under some pressure to to take her, but I can't summon up the enthusiasm for a repeat (although I loved the first one).

A question: I have a good friend who is taking his veggie partner. Anyone had any experience of a FD veggie meal?

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I did notice one flash only going off, I think they were "advised" after that.

You are correct; the FD doesn't allow flash and they will tell you (not me one of my dining companions).

Glad you enjoyed the meal. Surprised your wife wasn't full after the meal. It was certainly enough for me....although a few cheeky halves in the Hinds Head may have helped...!

Agree that it is a once only experience. That is why I hope that in dropping the ALC the tasting menu will be revamped and get fresher. I didn't go with my partner and I am under some pressure to to take her, but I can't summon up the enthusiasm for a repeat (although I loved the first one).

A question: I have a good friend who is taking his veggie partner. Anyone had any experience of a FD veggie meal?

I noticed a couple of changes this time from Ulterior Epicures visit, will have to write it up soon.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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I noticed a couple of changes this time from Ulterior Epicures visit, will have to write it up soon.

The one thing that hasn't changed is the upshot: unless it changes - and changes with relative frequency - The Fat Duck tasting menu is pretty much a one-time attraction. Now that there is no a la carte, this becomes more true than ever.

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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I noticed a couple of changes this time from Ulterior Epicures visit, will have to write it up soon.

The one thing that hasn't changed is the upshot: unless it changes - and changes with relative frequency - The Fat Duck tasting menu is pretty much a one-time attraction. Now that there is no a la carte, this becomes more true than ever.

I really cannot see him changing it much, I may be wrong, its a proven formula, with an inbuilt early warning system, the waiting list!

As long as that two month wait is in place it proves how many punters are queuing up for a table, so no real pressure to change it.

"So many places, so little time"

http://londoncalling...blogspot.co.uk/

@d_goodfellow1

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The one thing that hasn't changed is the upshot: unless it changes - and changes with relative frequency - The Fat Duck tasting menu is pretty much a one-time attraction.  Now that there is no a la carte, this becomes more true than ever.

I think that is a bit more than a one-time attraction. We went last September after a gap of about 3 years and it had changed quite a bit in that time, albeit with a sequence of fairly small changes.

Unless it changes more quickly in the future my guess is that a two year gap is probably the minimum for it to be worth going back.

As I have said before we had been hoping to go back relatively soon to have the ALC since we have never had that, but it doesn't look like we will have the chance now. I'm still hoping that something like the rumoured "historical" tasting menu might appear as an alternative to the tasting menu.

The other option which used to be available was the set lunch, which was both very good value and allowed people who couldn't face (or afford) the tasting menu to get a good feel for the cooking. We took Duncan's parents there to eat that and they had a great time - and quite happily tell people that they have eaten at the Fat Duck. There is no way that we would ever have considered subjecting them to the tasting menu since they would not have been comfortable with the prospect of such a large meal.

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The one thing that hasn't changed is the upshot: unless it changes - and changes with relative frequency - The Fat Duck tasting menu is pretty much a one-time attraction.  Now that there is no a la carte, this becomes more true than ever.

I think that is a bit more than a one-time attraction. We went last September after a gap of about 3 years and it had changed quite a bit in that time, albeit with a sequence of fairly small changes.

Unless it changes more quickly in the future my guess is that a two year gap is probably the minimum for it to be worth going back.

Right, like I wrote, "unless it changes - and changes with relative frequency - The Fat Duck tasting menu is pretty much a one-time attraction."

“Watermelon - it’s a good fruit. You eat, you drink, you wash your face.”

Italian tenor Enrico Caruso (1873-1921)

ulteriorepicure.com

My flickr account

ulteriorepicure@gmail.com

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