The Best Meal I’ve Ever Eaten: The Fat Duck

img_7678What’s the best meal you’ve ever eaten?

Not just the food (although the food is important) but the entire meal: the atmosphere, the experience, the taste, the feelings you have at the start, in the middle and at the end. What meal was so truly amazing that you’ll remember it for the rest of your life?

For me, I had some contenders up until now. Kitchen Table here in London, a food tour on electric bikes in Austin, a chef-prepared four-course meal on a glass bus in Paris. All incredible.

Now though, it is, without question, The Fat Duck.

img_7675I’ve been wanting to come to The Fat Duck since I came to England. I love the work of Heston Blumenthal and the fact that food can be manipulated, toyed with and made to be so much fun. I ate at his Dinner a few years ago and had the legendary Meat Fruit, which in itself was an experience I’ll never forget.

But I’d never had the right reason (or the amount of planning) to go to The Fat Duck. First of all, it takes six months to get a reservation. Six. Damn. Months! That’s an insane amount of preparation.

And then of course it’s about finding the right person to go to, since it’s not close (about an hour and a half drive out of London or about a 45 minute train) and then of course the meal itself which is – ready for it? – four hours long.

This is not just a meal. This is an experience.

img_7684Sit down, enjoy, because you’re in for a treat.

LIGHT SPOILERS FROM HERE ON OUT

img_7681You have been warned. From here on out, there are going to be some spoilers about the meal at The Fat Duck.

But light ones only, because the joy of the Fat Duck is not just the food or the atmosphere, which is incredible, but it’s the most personal meal I have ever eaten.

img_7692When you book your meal, you get an email from the restaurant with questions about your life. Why you’re coming to the meal, where you’re coming from, what you like and who you are. When I had filled that out, then they called me to ask follow-up questions to make sure it was perfect.

And it was perfect.

img_7731I booked this meal for my love’s birthday and they asked me specific things like things that are important to the two of us, where she goes to school, a memorable trip we’ve taken together and any hobbies she has. And because of this, during the meal, there were little touches that made this meal incredible. Truly incredible.

Some of our personalized highlights include:

img_7720Us lifting our seafood course to find two carved wooden whales waiting for us on the table (since whales, in an adorable inside-joke kind of way, have always meant love to us. ūüźč)

img_7708Puzzle boxes that we had to assemble with tops from Yelp (where I work) and UCL (where Shamaine goes to school.)

They cooked us an extra course of burgers, because Shamaine is starting a London burger pop-up.

They even added blossoms and a picture of Kyoto based off our trip to Japan to their “woods” course.

img_7728Then on our tiny popsicle sticks, they had personalized messages for him and her.

img_7779And of course, a burger keychain for Shamaine at the end. Because, why not.

THE FOOD

The Food though is incredible. It is a 16-course experience that, again, takes hours. (Yes, 16 courses. I was so stuffed that I nearly died with happiness.)

The evening tells an edible¬†story of Heston’s childhood journeys from London to Cornwall. You go on a ride, to the beach, through the woods and off to sleep. And every single course on this journey is incredible. You’re even given a map to follow along with the dishes and make sure you don’t get lost along the way.

There’s cereal (to start your journey) which takes like a Full English Breakfast. A chocolate crab that¬†disappears as soup is poured upon him. A smoking bamboo forrest. Tea that was both hot and cold. Seashells with earphones to have you listen to the sound of the ocean as you eat your sea course. And this is just a taste of the amazingness, every course came with it’s own surprises.

I promised light spoilers, but know that every course, up to and including the grand finale, was exceptional, phenomenal, beautiful and so memorable.

THE ATMOSPHERE

img_7771And the atmosphere. The atmosphere. I have to say it again, the atmosphere. It’s a very small, mood-lit space where although it’s an open plan, it’s designed to feel like you’re having an intimate experience all on your own.

Each table even has a light above that changes colour and brightness along with the courses. Things like that make this whole night unbelievable.

img_7773Of course the servers are top-notch. Multiple waiters¬†come by your table to remove plated, in tandem, perfectly synchronized to remove plates or clean up a mess. It’s done so well you barely notice it’s happening around you, but when you do see it, it’s almost like ballet it’s so beautiful.

THE EXPERIENCE

img_7775I said it at the start and I’ll say it again: this was the best meal of my entire life.

Now, it is NOT cheap. In fact, not only was it the best, it¬†is also the most expensive meal I’ve ever eaten. Each person’s experience costs ¬£255 and that does not include tip or drinks. And I don’t think I’d ever do it again, only because it would be hard to recapture that magic that was the first time.

However, it was amazing and if you’ve ever wanted a meal that would literally delight with every bite, I cannot recommend this bird enough.

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