The Fat Duck
High Street Bray Berkshire SL6 2AQ
Before Heston Blumenthal was a supermarket evangelist, a TV stalwart and a saviour of service station dinners, he was a chef with some remarkable ideas – and the Fat Duck is where he tried them out. Opened in 1995, and earning three Michelin stars in 2004, Blumenthal's first restaurant made his reputation and became the most talked-about dining experience in the country. Its dishes, from triple-cooked chips to bacon & egg ice cream, have become modern classics – loved and ridiculed in equal measure. Blumenthal's interest in experimental food and mad-scientist sensory combinations means dining at the Fat Duck is something akin to visiting a theatre or gallery: you go to admire, to be surprised and provoked, not just (God forbid) to eat, or even have a great evening. The tasting menu – from Nitro Poached Aperitifs to Whisk(e)y Wine Gums – demands operatic commitment, too: it costs £180 per head, and takes a good 3–4 hours to be served. Whether you love it or steer clear will largely depend on your wallet and your willingness to indulge Blumenthal's brilliantly crafted, impeccably served whimsies. Pretentious, pricey and a bit 'early noughties', yes – but still a dinner to remember forever. Book well ahead.