The Fat Duck was relocated for a few months to Melbourne, Australia, while the original restaurant in Bray was undergoing extensive renovations. The restaurant just re-opened and, with the most recent transformations in the space and the menu, it is clearly becoming a league of its own. Heston Blumenthal, who defined the way we think about modern cooking, has reinvented himself and is opening new avenues in culinary excellence and the dining experience overall!
The charming English pub has maintained its character, but the changes have made the space more functional and aligned with the menu. When entering, the guests are greeted by the host in a small corridor with holograms from the menu being projected on a side wall. The kitchen has at least doubled in size, and now the staff have more space for their creations!
The traditional menu has now been replaced by a map guiding you to a journey down the path of nostalgia, childhood memories, and innovative concepts. There is a distinct story-line taking you through a day in Fat Duck time. This includes a dining experience (with a real table d'hôte menu!) and ends with drifting off to sleep. As the figurative time changes, the light on the table (yes every table's light is regulated individually) changes in color and intensity to reflect the appropriate time. The contribution of light gives a new dimension to the experience. This innovative new concept, where food becomes a vehicle, has brilliantly achieved Heston's goal to create a memorable experience by allowing the most precious memories of the guests to surface and be connected with the food!
In terms of specific courses we were really happy to see the evolution of the "walk in the forest" dish. It really integrated all the flavors in one dish instead of the multiple that it used to be, while maintaining the mystique of the dry ice generated fog. The outcome was spectacular! We also thought that the new crab dish (transforming in a caviar dish in front of your eyes) was phenomenal, both in presentation and in taste. It was really one of our favorite courses! We loved the new trolley for the nitro poached aperitifs (the lighting complemented it perfectly). The bowl is now transparent and you can witness the poaching process in real time! The boxes of cereals were also an amazing new addition! Heston has been able to enclose the taste of full English breakfast in this creation, while with the playfulness of the hidden gift in the package he makes the guests travel back in their childhoods and act like kids again! The "sound of the sea" was great as always. The staff take extra care to record every guest's favorite memories and try to bring them to the forefront during this journey. I received a personalized postcard during this course to reflect my most candid memories by the sea as a child... A really sweet and thoughtful gesture that personalizes the experience and sets this restaurant apart from all others. The wagyu beef and the duck were mouthwatering as usual!! Overall, head chef Jonny Lake again masterfully orchestrated this spectacular experience!
We have written before that the sweet part of the menu is superior to any restaurant we have visited. The new menu continues this tradition! We were very happy to see that the Botrytis desert survived the changes. It is one of the most complex, innovative and perfectly conceived and executed deserts we have had. The "counting sheep" desert was a really positive surprise and now one of our favorites. The tastes and textures were really evolved and we could see that a lot of work went into this creation. A floating pillow added to the simulation of a dream state and took the whole experience to another level. The "kid in the sweetshop" is now presented with a complex trolley that works with coins that are offered as part of an earlier course, giving a nice closure to the meal. Great concept and execution!
The front of the house staff set the standard against which every fine dining establishment should be judged! Masterfully led by general manager Dimitri Bellos, they contribute to a seamless experience. The staff is friendly and always responsive to the guests' needs, and at the same time extremely attentive to detail (even changing the way they set utensils for left handed guests)!
Once again, a phenomenal and unforgettable experience!
3 Michelin stars
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal is located in a stunning setting at the Mandarin Oriental hotel in London. This restaurant is another testament to the culinary brilliance of Heston Blumenthal. Recently awarded a second Michelin star, DBHB offers a menu inspired by historic traditional British recipes. However, as always with his creations, Heston has added theatrical presentations, and the element of deception in all his dishes. The highlights of our menu were as always the meat fruit (chicken liver parfait) and the tipsy cake (with the ingenious concept of spit roast pineapple). The restaurant interior is contemporary, yet mindful of tradition, reflecting Heston's philosophy for this space. The dining room features floor-to-ceiling glass walls. Diners have an unobstructed view of the kitchen and its unique pulley system. Modeled after a similar design in the royal court, the pulley's rotate the spit on an open-fire. The front of the house is led masterfully by Nick Skarkalis, who coordinates an amazing team. Service is warm and welcoming, but at the same time attentive to detail and perfect in every way. Another really amazing experience at Dinner! Definitely one of the best restaurants in London!
2 Michelin stars
Osteria Francescana is located in via Stella, a quiet street in downtown Modena. There is no praise that has not been written about this restaurant. All of them are completely justified! This establishment is one of the 5 restaurants in the world that are at the forefront of modern culinary art. Chef Massimo Bottura has defined how we think about food, and despite his strong foothold on tradition, he continues to reinvent himself through new recipes. There are two elements that are constant in his approach to food. The first is the dedication to traditional recipes, local ingredients, and a strong sense of regional identity. The second is the element of deception. Chef Bottura draws parallels in meanings, tastes and textures designing a constant interplay between reality and its interpretation by your senses. To that effect, the menu clearly reflects the impact and influence of contemporary art on his inspirations and executions. Sous vide cooking is used in the majority of the preparations. There is an ongoing dialog between old and new, reality and fiction. The restaurant is decorated by pieces of authentic contemporary art, with a large spin-painting of Damien Hirst at the entrance! However, the ambience is otherwise very simple and minimalistic. Guests can choose from an a la carte menu, the "Tradition in Evolution" menu, and the "Sensations" menu, or a combination of the two tasting menus. Every dish was the reflection of a journey through nostalgia, art, familiar tastes, and unique textures revealing an unmistakable Emilian signature. Classic dishes of Osteria Francescana, such as the "five ages of Parmigiano Regiano" and the "crunchy part of the lasagne", never become old! In "five ages of Parmigiano Regiano" the chef, instead of offering a cross-sectional approach to one ingredient, integrates the component of time, giving the guest a glimpse of the aging process of cheese in a longitudinal fashion. This way he creates one of the most fluid and versatile dishes we have ever tasted! The spin-painted veal, is actually beef (but so tender that it can be mistaken for veal) and is directly inspired by the Damien Hirst painting at the entrance. It's presentation is a work of art! The Tzatziki is one of the best executions of this sauce we have ever tasted, despite the fact that most of the basic ingredients have been substituted with traditional Emilian products! The sweet part of the menu is equally explosive as the savory component. The now classic "Oops! I dropped the lemon tart" is perfect in taste and presentation! Served in a plate that appears to be cracked it signifies the end, but also the beginning. What a better way to start something new, but to pull all the stops, break the old in its tinniest components and rebuild? Some phenomenal mignardises are offered in the end of the meal, with the "croccantino of foie gras", which hides aged local Balsamic vinegar in its core, revealing the Emilian heart of the meal. The service was impeccable and attentive to detail. Chef Bottura personally greeted all the guests. A really phenomenal experience in one of the best restaurants in the world!
3 Michelin Stars
Il Ridotto is located in a small street in the heart of Venice. It is a phenomenal restaurant faithful to Venetian traditions and preparations. Chef Gianni Bonaccorsi has created a fish and seafood menu reflecting local tastes. Traditional, seasonal dishes are created with a unique, innovative twist. The highest quality local ingredients are used and the menu changes seasonally. The "Sardines Sandwich" made for a playful and tasty start of our meal. The black spaghetti with sea urchin was perfectly cooked. The highlight of our meal, however, was the risotto. Perfect consistency and preparation, it offered a strong taste of the season. Earthly flavors from the mushrooms were perfectly complemented by the fall pumpkin. Brilliant execution and one of the best risottos we have ever had! The deserts were traditional and masterfully prepared. Service was really warm, welcoming, and engaging. A really amazing dinner in the heart of Venice!
1 Michelin star
La Ciau del Tornavento is situated in a beautiful location. Unfortunately the food, atmosphere, and service are subpar. In the night we visited the kitchen and the front of the house staff seemed overwhelmed. Most dishes were served cold, and the restaurant was so short staffed that a 2 course meal lasted 5 hours. Servers were inattentive and rude. We decided not to order deserts. This experience was by far the worst for us in a Michelin starred restaurant. Certainly not worth visiting over any other restaurant in this beautiful part of Italy.
1 Michelin star
Piazza Duomo is located on the first floor of a small building off a side street next to the cathedral in Alba. Being in the heart of Piedmont, in the midst of the truffle season Piazza Duomo offers a menu with a strong sense of place and a firm foothold on tradition. Chef Enrico Crippa demonstrates his talent with a series of small plates at the beginning of the meal. Subsequently, the menu revolves around white truffle and the classic dishes, which best reflect Piedmontese tradition! The agnolotti, a signature pasta of Piedmont, was cooked simply but to perfection! The potatoes cream was certainly the highlight of the menu. Smooth consistency and complex taste complemented and highlighted the smell of the truffle. The presentation and taste of the Mont Blanc was phenomenal. Service was impeccable and very attentive to detail. Piazza Duomo, being one of the best restaurants in Piedmont, respects and enriches the tradition of white truffle. Overall, a really amazing experience!!
3 Michelin stars
Ristorante Cracco is located in downtown Milan just a few blocks from the Duomo. Undoubtedly the most experimental, innovative, and adventurous restaurant in town. Chef Cracco has created a really progressive menu integrating classic Italian tastes with modern preparations. The night starts with chips based on several vegetables giving the guests a good idea of the chef's talent and abstract presentations. The white truffle menu (available around the white truffle season) offers an intense experience from start to finish with dishes covered entirely in shaved white truffle. The main course of veal and hazelnuts was impeccably cooked and presented, and was certainly one of the highlights of our night! The service was warm and welcoming, yet attentive to detail and accommodating! Overall a great dinner!
2 Michelin stars
EMP continuous to be one the most innovative restaurants in New York City. This was our second visit within a couple of months and we had a phenomenal experience as always. The menu was the same as our visit on 8/15. Please see our review from then for more details. Chef Humm once again laid out a spectacular collection of dishes, and Paul Downie led an impeccable service. We are looking forward to our next visit!
3 Michelin stars