The Fat Duck (Melbourne) | Southbank

I can see the orange glow coming through my closed eyelids while hearing the birds singing outside my window. It must be much, much later than when I normally wake up on a Wednesday.  As the blurriness of my heavy eyes begins to sharpen, what looks to be an anomalous blob of pink and white on my night stand slowly transforms into a crisp paper lolly bag with the words “Sweet Shop” neatly printed on it. I sit up in bed.

Oh.
My.
Gawd.

It wasn’t a dream! I was at the Fat Duck (Melbourne) last night! Upon this realization, I rub my eyes and flop my head back onto my pillow as the memories start racing back.

To The Fat Duck!

Let me take you back to 7pm Tuesday, 28 July 2015.

In the lift, full of excited – Fat Duck, here we come!

Appearing more dapper than usual for the night, hubby bear and I were waiting near Nobu in Crown when our sharp-looking friends Alex (suited up to the nines) and his beautiful partner Brittany (in a simple black dress made more elegant by her stilettos) approached.  We said our usual hellos, but all knew what we were really there for. Enough of the niceties, we headed straight to the elevator, got in and pushed the button for one Fat Duck, please.

We shot passed the iconic Fat Duck knife, spoon, and fork signage and straight to the awaiting hostess. Brittany divulged the reservation details then the four of us slid into a very dark, narrow hallway.  A bowling alley styled walk-way sprawled out before us, which lead our eyes further down the way, to a video screen in the shape of a doorway. As we progressed down the lane, footage of chefs working in the kitchen flashed on the little screen, then once we ‘arrived’ the screen turned into a little door and shut; all was quiet. Within that deafening moment, the black wall to our right disappeared and we heard a lady’s voice say, Welcome to Wonderland!

Squeeeeeee!!!!! What an enticing way to start dinner!

Where to now?

The well-dressed busy-bodies (aka Fat Duck staff) swarmed around us, our jackets were checked, and before we knew it, we were all mentally ooo-ing and aaah-ing as we were lead to a plush semi-circular booth, rounded out by two purple velvet chairs.

A “bible” of wine was promptly presented and explained, wine selections made, and we then sat back ready to enjoy the exciting food and impeccable service that only Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant could possibly provide.

The Wine Bible

 

Onto the Food!

Okay, enough of this storytelling, let’s get to the food. I was accompanied by a fellow vegetarian Brittany, so there are double shots of some of these photos where our mains differed from the boys.

Aerated Beetroot – an adorable little puff ball with horseradish cream in between. A delightful combination of contrasting texture, and the flavours were gorgeous. Such a shame it disappeared so quickly in our mouths!

Nitro Poached Apertifs – concocted table-side, with a smoking? steaming? frosting? container of liquid nitrogen (surely that’s healthy, right?) to toss our ‘drink’ selections in. Brittany and I got the Vodka & Green Tea, Alex the Gin and Tonic, and Hubby Bear got the Tequila and Grapefruit. All the party reported intense flavours, as well as sadness because once again, the marsh-mellow-looking treat literally vanished when you closed your lips around it.  We were all hanging for something more to chew on!
 
Red Cabbage Gazpacho – there’s nothing like eating cold Pommery grain mustard ice cream in cold cabbage gazpacho.  Really, there isn’t! ha! A very tasty mixture of the sharp mustard against the sweeter gazpacho. Delicious. What’s next? What’s next?
Savoury Lollies – oh hoorah!! This is like one of those “Heson’s Feasts” episodes, where everybody’s eyes are wide with curiosity! From left to right, we had a rocket-shaped icy pole Waldorf Rocket Salad, then the boys had a Salmon Twister wrapped in avocado and horseradish (we ladies simply had a Purple Carrot wrapped inside ours), and then The Feast, which for the guys was an incredibly tasty Chicken Parfait and for us veggies, a savoury Mushroom parfait.
Jelly of Quail, Marron Cream – this was a whole rock show in and of itself!  We all sat with the earth-laden ‘Listerine’ style mints on our tongues, as the taste got enhanced when the staff activated (by way of mysterious tea pot) the mossy smells of the forest – which wafted over the table and onto the floor.  The boys had their qual with a caviar sorbet, oak moss and truffle toast. We vegetarians had a Jelly of Smoked Mushroom with truffled cream and truffle toast. Yum, crunchy truffle toast.
Snail Porridge – only actually eaten by Alex, he was the only one out of our group who would eat the little buggers. He said there were just enough and they were tasty with the Joselito ham and shaved fennel on top. Pictured is the vegetarian version, which was Parsley Porridge with shaved fennel.
It’s pretty cool to note, from a vegetarian point of view, that so far all our meals – both veg and non-veg – appear to match on the table. It’s nice to actually see how much thought went into making our experience just as exciting as the meat eaters 🙂
Parsley Porridge (the veg ‘Snail’ Porridge)
Roast Marron – professed as Hubby Bear’s second favourite dish of the night, the plate was lovingly decorated with shiitake, confit Kombu and sea lettuce. Myself and Brittany had Roasted Aubergine sitting on aubergine puree with confit Kombu. So okay, our plates didn’t really match this time, but we still felt the love (and I think this was one of Brittany’s faves for the night).
Roasted Marron

 

Roasted Aubergine
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party – the staff start this course off by giving you a bookmark to give some back story about the Mad Hatter (BTW – it might not be a bookmark, but that’s what I’m using it for now! Ha!). Then they come around with a wooden box with ‘ticking’ watches in them so Shawn and Alex can select one, and drop it into their teapot. They swished it around, the ‘golden’ watch dissolved to create the mock turtle soup.  Brittany and I had the same, less the watch procession as it had meat stock, so our teapots were simply delivered with what we think was a vegemite type of stock.  The boys seemed to enjoy their soup, but I think both Brittany and I thought the flavour a little lacking in ours.
The Teapot!
Making the Mock Turtle Soup

 

Mock Turtle Soup

 

No bother, we all enjoyed the toast sandwiches (top of the ‘hat’ display were the meat ones, bottom were veg). By the way, yes – they were sandwiches with toast as part of the filling!
“Toast” Sandwiches
Sounds of the Sea – this was the legendary course that made Shawn and I put the Fat Duck on our bucket list to begin with.  We’re all handed seashells with iPods inside, playing the sounds of lapping waves from the ocean.  Raw fish adorned Alex and Shawn’s ‘beach side’ plates with edible sand, us vegos appeared to have the same, less the meat.  I actually didn’t like this one much at all. But then again, I was never a fan of eating things that tasted like the sea, even when I did eat meat in my previous life.

 

Salmon Poached in Liquourice Gel – adorned with endive, golden trout roe and sprinkled with vanilla mayonnaise.  Although he liked it, this was probably one of Shawn’s least favourite dishes.
For this course, Brittany and I had meal presentation divert paths with our significant others. Our plates differed quite a lot to our meat-eating counterparts, but it was still lovely nonetheless. The large round plate was presented with Beetroot Risotto, which was trapped in some sort of casing with sour cream sorbet. Perhaps it was the last ocean-tinted flavoured dish that tainted my taste buds, making this dish not as exciting for me. Tasty, but starting to get a bit of a ‘sour’ to my tongue.
Beetroot Risotto
The Duck – hands-down was Shawn’s favourite dish, by a mile. He’s not even into duck, and has never liked blood pudding! Perhaps it was the combination of chicory and green coffee that made it all better?  There was also a sort of Duck “Prawn” cracker thing, which came out in a glass of intense spices and seeds like cardamon pods. Both Alex and Shawn said it was nice, and it had the same texture and flavour (somewhat) of a prawn cracker! And there was a cigar looking thing, nobody can remember what it was, but I recall Shawn saying it had flavours reminiscent of what was in the glass in front of them. But who knows, and who really cares. It’s the Fat Duck.

 

The Duck
Duck ‘Prawn’ Cracker
Me and Brittany’s mains were very different again, we were presented with Vegetarian Bone Marrow with an assortment of root vegetables in a broth that was suspiciously like the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party broth. We both didn’t favour this one. Perhaps my dislike was based in the very subtle underlying bitter vegemite broth flavour combined with bitter root veg, which compounded my already souring tongue.  Although we appreciated all the technique that went into this dish, I don’t think either of us finished it. But it’s not easy getting all 17 courses to be a 100% match to every person’s taste, right? Right. So forward we marched!
Hot & Iced Tea – this was a delicious little dichotomy of feel. One side of the sweet honey-like tea was ice cold, while the other was hot.  Yay! Palate cleansed for me, this was a nice change in flavours from all the mains we had just gone through. Looks like we’re onto the sweeter side of things now.
Botrytis Cinerea – apparently this is the name of the ripening process for certain sweet desert wine grapes. I couldn’t pronounce it, but I sure ate it. A crazy concoction of delicate ‘balls’, some filled with yoghurt, others with blue cheese, sweet bursts of flavour here and there – and pop rocks exploding to make the experience multi-dimensional. There’s just nothing like having your food punch the inside of your mouth! Ha!  Very detailed and complex – both in appearance and flavour.
A Piece of the Puzzle Cereal – this was a root-based cereal that came with parsnip milk. Sounds savoury but was definitely sweet. In each cereal box, we got a piece of a puzzle, which contributed to the massive Heston mural on the wall (which is apparently being transported back to England after their stint in Melbourne is done). This reminded me a bit of a Cracker Jack box, where you get to eat something sweet and get a prize, too!
The Not-So-Full English Breakfast – looked savoury but was mixed with sweet. The ‘eggs’ were presented to us first, with me and Brittany’s being a special saffron mixture, then cracked and whirled around tableside again – in that insane liquid nitrogen stuff (ingesting that won’t affect my health down the track, right? Hahaha!) and presented, just like scrambled eggs, on a tiny piece of toast. The boys had piece of “bacon” on theirs.  This course was accompanied by an Earl Grey marmalade, completed with edible jar lid.  Of course, everybody has one of those.

 

 

With the bacon
Without the bacon
Whisky Wine Gums – this course did an ‘about-face’ from all the sweets we’ve been eating. Not a palate cleanser, more like a palate blaster! Despite it being a fun rendition of the best whisky’s from around the world, I’m not a fan of whisky, so I struggled to chew these ‘gummies’ down. Thank goodness for Alex. I’m pretty sure he cleaned up on this one as he got all the ones I didn’t eat!

 

Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop – a shout out to the initial video Heston gets his guests to watch when they complete their booking, this lolly bag was full of little goodies we got to take home with us. Including one with an edible wrapper, and a playing card encased in its own envelope.

 

Let’s come back to now…

“Ahhhh, what sweet memories” I think as I end my reverie. I roll back over in my bed, then eyeball my lolly bag in hopes there’s a little morsel of magic left inside….

The Conclusion

So all in all, what did I think?  I thoroughly enjoyed 13 delicious courses (yes, I got 17 but I didn’t particularly like 4 of them), got to eat at one of the most famous restaurants in the world, was treated with great respect and care by the staff, and got to sit in the company of my wonderful hubby and fantastic friends for nearly 6 hours. Yes, dinner went for nearly 6 hours.  My ass was flat, but my tummy was full. And I have a take-away lolly bag. Life is good!
What about the price? Everyone gawked at the price. I say, it doesn’t matter about the price because look at everything we got! Not only 17 courses, but incredible hospitality, and an experience of a lifetime. Sure it was $525 per head without drinks, but people pay that (or more) to see bands or music concerts. How I see it is, we paid that to eat a concert.
So, one more item off our bucket list!
If you can go. Just go. Don’t overthink, just shut up and enjoy!
Flavour: ★★★★★ ✔
Quality:   ★★★★★ ✔
Service: ★★★★★ ✔
Value: ★★★★★ ✔
Atmosphere: ★★★★★ ✔

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twobearsandafork Written by:

The Two Bears are a fun-loving married couple of more years than we care to share, ha! Our travels allow Wifey Bear (a vegetarian) and Hubby bear (a carnivore) the opportunity to explore the mysteries of this amazing planet while trying out new & exciting food! #biglove

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