Heston Blumenthal’s Michelin 3-star restaurant, The Fat Duck, opened for lunch at Crown Towers in Melbourne today – and the 15-course, $525 menu looks every bit as spectacular as promised.
The Fat Duck’s arrival in Australia sets a new benchmark in great restaurants as “pop up”, although no expense has been spared on this food coup by Crown.
Blumenthal’s love of Lewis Caroll’s Alice in Wonderland continues with the Mad Hatter’s tea party on the menu and a giant fob-watch on the wall that will count down the six months the restaurant is in town. When the party’s over, The Duck will be replaced by a new and permanent antipodean outpost of Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, his world’s top 10 London restaurant.
There’s a 19,500 piece, partly completed jigsaw of the chef as superhero on the wall and every guest who eats there will be expected to be involved in its completion. And Blumenthal has even managed to borrow art from the David Walsh, the equally eccentric owner of MONA in Hobart.
While Rene Redzepi has taken the world’s best restaurant, Noma, to the Mandarin Oriental in Japan, for a five-week stint that ends on February 14, Blumenthal has brought his entire team to Australia while his 20-year-old original restaurant in a 16th-century building in Bray, Berkshire, undergoes six-month renovation.
Recreating The Fat Duck to his impeccable standards has obviously been a challenge for a chef who loves pushing the boundaries of food.
“This has been an incredibly ambitious project, bringing the whole Fat Duck team to Australia, designing a brand new Fat Duck restaurant with original features whilst at the same time embracing the feel and energy of Bray,” he said.
The menu features many of the restaurants most famous dishes, adapted to suit Australian ingredients. The Duck’s head chef, Ashley Palmer-Watts, has spent the last few months in Australia chasing down ingredients from the country’s best suppliers.
Here’s what on the degustation menu, which Blumental promises will be four hours of “pure food theatre”:
- Aerated Beetroot
Red cabbage gazpacho, Pommery grain mustard ice cream
Nitro-poached aperitifs: vodka and lime sour, gin and tonic, campari soda
Savoury lollies: waldorf rocket, salmon twister and feast
Jelly of quail with marron cream, caviar sorbet, oak moss and truffle toast
(Homage to Alain Chapel)
Snail porridge, Joselito ham, shaved fennel
Roasted marron with shiitake, kombu butter and sea lettuce
Mad Hatter’s Tea Party: Mock turtle soup, pocket watch and toast sandwich
Sound of the Sea
Salmon poached in a licorice gel, endive, vanilla mayonnaise and golden trout roe
Lamb with cucumber, green pepper and caraway
Hot & iced tea
The not-so-full English breakfast
Whisky wine gums.
We’ll leave some of the theatre and surprise to those lucky enough to have won a table in the online ballot last year. Around 250,000 people applied for the 14,000 seats available during the 50-seat restaurant’s six-month stint in Australia.
The luckiest of the lucky will be those at the chef’s table. Four guests per service are seated in front of the pass, witnessing the kitchen’s inner workings and interacting directly with the chefs during their meal.
Expect surprise, delight, fun and deliciousness. Business Insider has been given a special preview at the dishes at The Fat Duck Melbourne. Check them out below.
The 8m-long, 2m-high 19,500-piece jigsaw of Heston Blumenthal, which will be completed over the six-month stay in Melbourne.
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