A work colleague of mine has done me a huge favour and as a BIG thank you I took him for lunch at The Fat Duck in Bray. If you are unfamiliar with this restaurant, let me clue you in. This place has been named THE best restaurant in the world. The French Laundry in northern California held this distinction for a few years but last year they were usurped. I was very pleased to hear the news as Bray is just down the road from our home (about 7 miles). Having never been to The French Laundry I was curious to see what the food taste like at the BEST restaurant in the world.
The restaurant is the brain child of Heston Blumenthal (what a great name!). He takes a very scientific approach to food and mixes colours and flavours in ways you never imagined (hoped?).
The first time I went with Marc for Valentine's Day last year. This was a wee bit of a disaster. My husband is not known for his culinary adventurous nature. He hates fish (unless it is sushi and even then only certain sushi). When we turned up and found that the tasting menu (12 courses of bizarre offerings) consisted of a lot of fish, Marc took a dive and insisted on ordering from the a la carte menu. It was enjoyable but I still had a deep seeded desire to try the tasting menu.
So when the opportunity arose to go with my colleague I was well excited! We nearly had a disaster when my companion seemed almost as unenthusiastic as my husband did about the tasting menu but when he saw my disappointment he agreed to give it a go.
He approached each course as if he was playing chicken with his food. To be fair, he only balked at the snail porridge (which did have snails on the top and really was green porridge on the bottom). Everything else he ate. He only spit one thing out.
My favourite was the surprise. I had heard of the famous scrambled egg and bacon ice cream. I had felt nauseous at the thought of it. I was regretting the end of the dinner mostly because it meant I had to put my money where my mouth was (literally) and eat this final course for dessert. Surprisingly, it was my favourite of the afternoon.
We got a copy of the menu detailing everything we ate. They are major fans of using liquid nitrogen to cook with. Do Not try this at home!
The restaurant isn't really about great food. It is about food as a scientific experiment. It is about experiencing food less like sustenance and more like art. I have to say I focused solely on the food which probably isn't true of any other restaurant I've ever been to (one possible exception is Caviar Kaspia in Paris). I was fascinated by the experience and recommend it to anyone.
PS Don't go if you are very very hungry (possibly even a little hungry). Despite spending more on this meal than any other in my entire life, I was still hungry when I left. Wish I'd eaten more bread......