squaremeal.co.uk � 5
� e fi rst time I can remember eating at � e Fat Duck was a
midweek dinner on a beautiful summer evening in the late
1990s. It was, of course, an extraordinary meal, but looking
back the most extraordinary thing about it was that the dining
room was half empty. � ese were the days when � e Fat Duck
had just won the fi rst of its three Michelin stars and to almost
everyone the name Heston meant a service station on the M4.
Fast-forward almost 20 years and we're thrilled to announce
that for the second time, � e Fat Duck is our UK Restaurant of the Year. Read our
interview with the always thought-provoking Heston (p.68) to fi nd out about the radical
new turn � e Fat Duck has taken since it re-opened last year. We've watched it go from
insider's secret to one of the most famous restaurants in the world, a standard bearer for the
creativity and innovation you'll now fi nd at all levels across the UK restaurant scene.
Take a look at our list of the 50 best restaurants in the UK (p.56) to see what we mean.
Sure, you'll still fi nd the big names of British gastronomy that have long dominated the
scene. But you'll also fi nd young chefs going it alone and bringing their own vision of what
good food means to every corner of the country. We applaud these risk takers and urge
you to visit as many as you can over the next 12 months. So if you haven't yet booked your
summer holiday, you could do worse than take a gastronomic tour around these islands.
Failing that, four hours spent at � e Fat Duck will take you on the foodie trip of a lifetime.
John O'Ceallaigh is The
luxury travel editor
and contributing editor
to Ultratravel, The Telegraph's luxury travel
magazine. Covering the most decadent travel
experiences, recent trips have seen him � y
to New York on the Four Seasons private jet
and sail the Caribbean by superyacht.
Favourite beach? For sheer dramatic beauty,
the beaches that fringe Table Mountain.
Preferred picnic Item? I'm more concerned
with simple comforts - a blanket, warmth,
papers and not-overly chatty companions.
Favourite summer thirst-quencher? A crisp
G&T, but I don't con� ne it just to summer.
John wrote Lavish Living, p.198
Inspired by the likes of
Helmut Newton from
a young age, Stephen
was lucky enough to
assist the great Terence
Donovan for three years. Stephen was also
one of the photographers who shaped the
look of the original Loaded magazine. His
work now ranges from celebrity portraits
to architecture, interiors and cars.
Favourite beach? Australia's Bondi Beach.
Preferred picnic item? Any barbecued � sh.
Favourite summer thirst-quencher? It has
to be a G&T or a good old-fashioned ale.
Stephen photographed Heston Blumenthal, p.68
Neil previously worked
at The Good Food Guide,
where he read many
menus but rarely ate at
the restaurants. Such
voyeurism meant it was inevitable he'd
end up eating everywhere for Squaremeal.
When's he not doing that, he enjoys writing
about pop music for cultureortrash.com
Favourite beach? Siesta Key in Sarasota,
Miami - it has beautiful white, cool sand.
Preferred picnic Item? A magnum of Prosecco
(and a bag of frozen peas to keep it cold).
Favourite summer thirst-quencher? You
can't really beat a massive Stella.
Neil wrote Restaurant News, p.12
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means care must be exercised. Reviews are subjective. Neither Monomax Ltd nor its agents or employees can accept liability for omissions or inaccuracies. No
material can be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher. © Monomax Ltd July 2016. ISSN 977-1369264-01-3-48
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For fuller reviews of 11,500 restaurants throughout the UK, visit squaremeal.co.uk
THE FAT DUCK
1 High Street, Bray, Maidenhead, Berkshire SL6 2AQ;
01628 580333 £££££
The fantastical gastronomy of which dreams are made
While the kitchen spent six months popping up in Melbourne, the
Bray restaurant was getting a makeover. Now Blumenthal is back,
with tantalising innovations ranging from high-tech Japanese loos to
a new, 17-course tasting menu weighing in at £255 per person. Diners
are taken on the "most incredible journey"- a tumble down the rabbit
hole into the most creative reaches of the chef's imagination, based
around his perfect childhood holiday. From 'A Change of Air'
(an intensely avoured sphere of aerated beetroot and horseradish
cream that zzes away on the tongue) to
'Counting Sheep' (a meringue on a pillow
actually oating above the table), this is
literally the stu of dreams. You need to
buy into the immersive fantasy, but for sheer
"exquisite artistry" e Fat Duck remains
a must-do, once-in-a-lifetime trip.
Squaremeal's annual survey has once
again revealed the best of the best when
it comes to UK restaurants. Thousands
of votes have been cast by readers,
bloggers and our nationwide team of
reviewers, so all you have to do is book
KEY TO REVIEWS
£ Less than £16
£££££ More than £61
Prices are based on a two-course dinner (starter and main)
for one, including half a bottle of house wine, co�ee, cover
charge, service and vegetables. The numbers in  denote
last year's position. Words in double quotation marks
represent reader comments.
l Visit squaremeal.co.uk for a fuller review of �e Fat Duck
From the comfort of a £3,000 leather
bucket chair in the revamped
restaurant, Heston Blumenthal is
talking me through the new menu at �e
Fat Duck. "I've been telling stories through
food for years," he says. "Ever since opening
the Duck, through In Search of Perfection,
Feast, �e Fat Duck Cookbook and Historic
Heston; where we're at now is
the culmination of 20 years'
work. It feels like �e Fat
Duck is nally beginning."
Few restaurants survive for
20 years, let alone mark the
anniversary by completely
reguring a magic formula
that produced three Michelin
stars in 2004 and the
accolade of being voted the
World's Best Restaurant in 2005. What's
more, the fame of the restaurant's rst
incarnation propelled Blumenthal to being
one of the UK's most successful cookbook
authors and TV chefs, making him famous
on a rst-name basis and a familiar face to
millions who could never aord to eat in
his restaurant (though they could aord to
eat the food from his Waitrose range).
�e latest chapter in the Blumenthal
story began with the re-opening of �e Fat
Duck last September. During the £2.5m
refurb, the entire kitchen team decamped
to Melbourne while the renovations were
carried out. �e new restaurant oers a
new concept: a 17-course menu based on
the idea of Heston's perfect day at the
seaside. "And nothing," Blumenthal says,
"has been more pivotal in the evolution of
�e Fat Duck than the seaside element."
Blumenthal's earliest food memory
involves ice cream. He remembers being
taken, every Saturday, to Chapel Street
Market, o Edgware Road, by his
grandmother. "It was the last thing I
wanted to do at the weekend," he admits.
"I wanted to go and play in the park.
�e only thing that kept me going was
knowing that on the way
back we'd get a tub of ice
cream in a brown paper
bag to take home. So I
had this real thing for
ice cream: I had to go
through the process of
going to the market and
walking home with it
before I could eat it."
Blumenthal put crab ice cream on �e
Fat Duck's menu in 2000, challenging
diners' preconceptions that ice cream
must be sweet. "If you called it frozen
bisque, it was acceptable. But calling it
squaremeal.co.uk � 69
68 � squaremeal.co.uk
Winner of our BMW UK Restaurant of the Year award, The
Fat Duck o�ers a magical new dining experience like no other
WORDS BEN McCORMACK PHOTO STEPHEN PERRY
"NOTHING HAS BEEN MORE
PIVOTAL IN THE EVOLUTION
OF THE FAT DUCK THAN THE
HESTON:HESTON:THE NEXT CHAPTER
RESTAURANTS + FOOD