Getting a reservation at The Fat Duck is as difficult as finding hen’s teeth. They open reservation lines (phone and web) two months in advance and if you don’t get in the minute they open, you’re doomed to fail. As it happens, Boyfriend Drew lucked out and secured a wait list cancellation for a Saturday night reservation – a hen’s teeth booking if I ever saw one – and I can only wish a heartfelt “thanks” to the person who gave it up and hope they get to experience the divine delights of this incredible restaurant one day in the future.

Regularly rating in the world’s top restaurants (currently #2 in the Elite Traveler & Laurent-Perrier awards, and #33 on S.Pellegrino & Acqua Panna’s The World’s 50 Best Restaurants), this three-Michelin-starred gem is the creation of self-taught culinary genius Heston Blumenthal, he of the crazy concoctions such as meat fruit and egg and bacon icecream. The Fat Duck is located more or less in the middle of nowhere (five minutes from central Maidenhead, which is 40 minutes by train from London) in a tiny village called Bray – tiny being the operative word. Amongst the dainty little houses also resides Blumenthal’s other culinary ventures, The Hinds Head (one Michelin star, Pub of the Year in 2011) and The Crown at Bray (a traditional British pub).

Drew demonstrating just how tiny Bray is.

Drew demonstrating just how tiny Bray is.

It’s hard to know where to begin with our gastronomy adventure that is dinner at The Fat Duck – and how much to reveal in my review. After sitting down at our table, waiters swept over to our neighbours with something truly intriguing and as I peeked over my shoulder to take another glance, I was cheekily warned, “Don’t look! It’ll ruin the surprise!” For the advantage The Fat Duck has over all of its competitors is that of expecting the unexpected.

Having seen the episode of Masterchef: The Professionals where the finalists were sent to The Fat Duck for training, a few covers of signature courses were blown in the process. At the time, it made me want to go there more, but sitting in the restaurant with all this wonderment going on around us, I wished I had gone there with a clear mind and let dish after dish explode it in a fantastical manner.

I will tell you what you can expect on the menu; but I won’t tell you how you can expect it to be served. And I’m only going to show you select photos I took – ones which prevent the surprises from being revealed entirely. On the 14-course menu (yep, better put your eating pants on!) we have aperitifs of vodka and lime, and gin and tonic, presented in a very cool fashion; a decadent combination of quail jelly, crayfish cream and chicken liver parfait served with a slice of truffle toast and spectacular oak moss; the earthy snail porridge, which is exactly as the name suggests; my personal favourite, the delightful Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, with mock turtle soup and a toast sandwich; “Sound of the Sea”, a multi-sensory experience with edible sand; the unusual but refreshing combination of lamb with cucumber; the perplexing Eggs in Verjus (c. 1726), Verjus in Egg (c. 2013), which is actually a dessert; and the aptly-titled final course “Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop”, which takes me right back to the days of childhood birthday parties where everyone departs with a lolly bag.

Snail Porridge.

Snail Porridge.

Roast Foie Gras, Barberry, Braised Kombu and Crab Biscuit.

Roast Foie Gras, Barberry, Braised Kombu and Crab Biscuit.

The Mad Hatter's Tea Party mock turtle soup.

The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party mock turtle soup.

Eggs in Verjus, Verjus in Egg.

Eggs in Verjus, Verjus in Egg.

While most dishes were mouth-wateringly delicious, my palate was challenged by a few of the courses. The “Sound of the Sea” needs to be eaten altogether – and quickly, otherwise the sea foam turns the sand into a congealed mess. The Salmon Poached in a Liquorice Gel was almost too sweet for my taste buds, but thankfully the sprinkling of grapefruit cells gave a much-welcomed zest to the dish. The Hot and Iced tea was the least liked of all courses – it’s exactly what it says it is (one part hot iced tea, the other cool iced tea, in the same cup), though it has a thicker, gel-like texture and, as Boyfriend Drew said, it “tastes like lemon Fairy liquid smells”. It was hard to get past the image of washing dishes while drinking this dish.

The Fat Duck is not just a restaurant – it’s a theatre production of great gourmet skill, designed to delight and entrance its audience with the most complex presentation methods ever seen. Some people may baulk at the cost of the tasting menu (and there is only the tasting menu – no á la carte options here), but be assured you are not just having a fancy meal, you’re having the most unique, tasty and surprising meal you’ve ever had in your life. And speaking of surprises, the biggest one was left until the very end, when I was presented with my “Like a Kid in a Sweet Shop” bag with an extra bonus inside – a (belated) birthday card signed by the man himself, Heston Blumenthal.

(If you can, save the contents of your Sweet Shop bag for a later date – not too late, as there is an expiry date on the bottom – so you can make the Fat Duck experience last longer. And the Queen of Hearts is so deliciously ingenious you’ll want to savour her sober, perhaps with a cup of tea, and wish you had a full deck.)

The birthday card inside the Sweet Shop bag.

The birthday card inside the Sweet Shop bag.

The Queen of Hearts (she made some tarts).

The Queen of Hearts (she made some tarts).

The Fat Duck, High Street, Bray, Berkshire, SL6 2AQ. Open for lunch Tuesday – Saturday from noon; dinner Tuesday – Saturday from 7pm. 14-course tasting menu £195 per person plus service. We drank 2012 René Muré Signature Pinot Gris from Alsace (£60) and Château Belá Egon Muller Riesling from Slovakia (£60).

By Lisa Tan