Monday, June 4

So, a write up of The Fat Duck. I warn you, this will be LONG. Table was booked for 1:30pm, and it took us an hour and a half to drive there. Walking down the street in Bray, the restaurant looks almost like a house. If it weren't for a discreetly displayed menu on the wall, and a hanging sign with their logo on it, you could easily miss it. Inside it's very small, only about 12 tables. It's like a traditional village pub that's recently been redecorated to be more modern. One of the first things that I noticed was the amount of staff. They had a bloke for the wine, a bloke for the champagne, a bloke for tidying up your napkin when you got up to go to the loo...there must've been at least two people per table. But less of that...on with the food! Unfortunately for the first two courses I was far too excited and forgot to take photos, but I'll do my best to describe them.

First of all we were given a palate cleanser, Nitro-green tea and lime mousse. This was prepared in front of us by one of our waitresses. She squirted a small dome of mousse on to a spoon, which was then dropped into a bowl of liquid nitrogen. The steam was spilling out over the top of the bowl and it looked spectacular. We were told we had to eat it straight away and all in one go. As soon as your put it in your mouth you could feel the cold from the liquid nitrogen, but almost straight away the outer layer cracked and it was almost liquid inside. It was a very refreshing taste - the lime was the first thing I noticed, and the green tea was more of an after taste. Proper food theater!

The first of our starters was oyster, passion fruit jelly and lavender. Served in an oyster shell, it looked slightly like someone had dumped a bright yellow bogey on top of it. None of us were entirely sure how to go about eating it - was it an all in one jobby, or were we actually supposed to eat it properly? We opted for a bit of both. I must say this was probably my least favourite course out of everything, but it was still very nice, and completely not what you'd expect! Now, pictures with words..!

This is Pommery grain mustard ice cream with red cabbage gazpacho. It's the tiniest dish in the world. The middle of the dish it was served in couldn't have been more than 5cm across. Normally I don't like mustard, but when it's in ice cream it's actually quite nice! I'm not sure how to go about describing it, as will probably be the case with most things here. It really does have to be experienced to be believed and I don't think I could even come close to explaining what it's like!

To prepare us for our next course we were given what looked like those very thin, filmy mints that melt on your tongue. Except they taste of forests. From what I remember the waiter telling us, it was to prepare us for the taste of the truffle and the oak moss. I was far too distracted by the box full of moss, complete with steam from even more liquid nitrogen pouring out all over the table to listen to what he was saying! It really did taste like a forest though. Or a fragrant log burning fire. Or the bottom of a barbecue, perhaps. It was a very strong, woody taste.

We were then served Jelly of quail, langoustine cream, parfait of foie gras and oak moss and truffle toast. I might just let the photos do the talking in this one, or this is going to be so wordy no one is going to read it!

We then went on to the main courses, the first of which was my favourite. It was also the one I got funny looks for when I told them the kind of thing we'd be having. Snail Porridge. I seem to remember having snails before at some point, but I can't have been very old. I don't really remember it much more than "this is a snail, eat it". Snails have a very meaty taste, with a texture similar to mussels (except bigger). It was served with joselito ham and shaved fennel. Before I went I'd seen a photo of it, and was expecting it to be snails smooshed up in to a porridge, but it was actually whole snails (well, minus shells), on top of the porridge. It was absolutely delicious, and I'm tempted to go out and find a load of snails in Mum and Dad's garden! Don't think it would be quite the same though.

Next up was Roast Foie Gras with almond fluid gel, cherry and chamomile. All I can say is...holy fuck. I think the absolutely amazing flavour of foie gras totally justifies any cruelty that may be involved. And this review hasn't got anything to do with animal rights or anything like that so kindly shutthefuckup if you're tempted to say anything :). The almond and the cherries go together superbly. An absolutely fantastic dish.

The only information in the next course was the name of the dish, which gave no clues as to what it may be. "Sound Of The Sea". We were given a big conch shell each, and each one had an ipod shuffle inside which was playing sounds you'd hear at the beach, like seagulls, waves crashing and the like. Then came the food, which really did look like a beach. I've no idea what the sand was, but it tasted great. Underneath the waves were seaweed and what I think was squid. It really did taste like the sea!

Next up was Salmon poached with liquorice with asparagus, vanilla mayonnaise and "Manni" olive oil. This one I wasn't too sure about. The salmon had a quite thick, jelly like coating, which wasn't a very nice texture at all. Everyone else seemed to agree with me on this point. The asparagus was gorgeous though, and the vanilla mayonnaise was wonderful!

Next up is something else that I never thought I'd get to eat, Ballotine of Anjou Pigeon, with black pudding, chinese pigeon cracker, pickling brine and spiced juices. The pigeon was wonderful, very gamey and full of flavour. It was topped with what looked like (and tasted like as well, actually) a giant quaver, much to my amusement!

Next we went on to the sweet stuff, starting with Hot and Iced Tea. Depending on which side of the glass you drank from, it was either hot, or very cold. We were told to drink it exactly how it was placed in front of us, which meant we got to taste the hot and the cold at the same time. A very surreal experience!

We were then given a leaflet on Mrs Marshall's ice cream, which explained she was possibly the first person to come up with the idea of the ice cream cone. We were then handed the smallest ice cream cone in existence, Mrs Marshall's Margaret Cornet. It's tiny ice cream, what more can I say?!

We were then given another palate cleanser - Pine Sherbert Fountain. Something else that tasted faintly of forests, but much more enjoyable. Eaten like a sherbert dip, except with a vanilla pod instead of a liquorice stick!

This one was Mango and Douglas Fir Puree, with bavarois of lychee and mango and blackcurrant sorbet. What can I say? Puddings are my favourite!

Next, we were given breakfast. This started with parsnip cereal with parsnip milk. Tasiter than you might think - I could actually eat that for breakfast every day!

The cereal was just a preparation for the final course, which was what we'd all been facinated with. Nitro-scrambled Egg and Bacon Ice Cream, with pain perdu and tea jelly. This was another course prepared in front of us with liquid nitrogen. She explained they were "special eggs" in that they already had the bacon in them. She cracked two in to the pan, and then added the liquid nitrogen. And 20 second later, we had our egg and bacon ice cream! It was served on top of a kind of french toast, and hold crap, it really did taste like egg and bacon! It was very very strange, and very very tasty!

After that we were given whiskey wine gums and violet tartlets, with some mint chocolates. As Caz is jewish, she had a slight variation to what we had. Instead of the egg and bacon ice cream she was given a very yummy chocolatey looking thing, which she said had something like popping candy in the bottom of it! She was given something instead of the oyster at the beginning as well but none of us could remember what it was. I don't know what more I can say really. It really does need to be experienced to be believed. I'm sure everything I've written and all the photos don't do it justice at all, but there we go!


qashgai said...

And you paid half the bill Hol. No wonder you're poor. Don't worry I'll pick up the tab a Scoffers some time.

Dolores said...

Holy shit. That isn't a meal, that's a three ring circus!

... How much did this set you back? Just curious. I've never heard of anything even remotely like this!