Our meal at the Fat Duck (in Bray, about 40 minutes outside of London) last weekend was truly outstanding. The highlight for me was a succulent pork entree with the most delicious side of penne with cheese sauce. The penne were small & tender & the cheese sauce was buttery & cheesy yet still delicate & not too rich.I had to fight my fellow diners away for every last bite.
Best dessert was a peach tarte tatin. (Worst dessert was the pain perdu with bacon & egg ice cream -- the ice cream, while interesting, just didn't work.) Also, the sourdough bread was truly great -- the perfect combination of crusty & chewy. Rye bread was not as transcendent. WIth the bread, they served a special butter, which was "decanted" with a great deal of ceremony by the waiter. The butter was indeed excellent, but not quite worth the decanting ceremony. I had foie gras for an appetizer, which was great. Since foie gras is always great, I can't necessarily credit the Fat Duck for its greatness, except for the excellent beef jelly which was served with it.
(Perhaps my companions can be persuaded to expand my account of the meal with their own personal highlights ...)
As for service, etc. at the Fat Duck, they served at least three amuses bouches, which all contained the quirky mixes of ingredients that you may have read about. (Companions, please fill in. My memory is hazy on the details.) The only problem with three amuses bouches was that we didn't realize that the first hour of our meal would be taken up with them, so it affected the timing of our wine. We ended up drinking the bottle we had chosen for our appetizers and entrees too soon. This is a minor quibble, though. Otherwise, the service from the waiters was good -- unpretentious & helpful. The atmosphere is warm & cozy. The prices are high.
On the whole, it was one of the more memorable meals of my life -- the ingredients were all of the highest quality & the experiementation with combinations made it fun.
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