07 Jul 11 Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant gets 30 000 calls a day
With snail porridge and salmon poached in liquorice on the menu, dinner at Heston Blumenthal’s Fat Duck might not be for everyone. But despite the economic gloom the phones at the triple Michelin-starred restaurant are ringing red hot.
Blumenthal’s Berkshire restaurant, reports The Guardian, is bombarded with more than 30 000 calls a day as adventurous diners queued up to try his particular brand of “molecular gastronomy”, which has given birth to experimental dishes such as egg and bacon ice-cream.
The self-taught chef says demand for tables at the restaurant in Bray has continued to rise despite a food poisoning incident two years ago – thought to have been caused by contaminated oysters – that made more than 500 diners ill.
“It has just been going up and up,” says Blumenthal, with calls coming from as far afield as Australia thanks to the exposure of his cooking programmes. “It was an awful time but when we reopened the response was fantastic.”
The Fat Duck employs three full-time receptionists but its computer system logs the number of calls that fail to get through each day. That figure, he says, is between 28 000 and 31 000, double the figure 18 months ago, although the chef concedes the total number is swollen by prospective diners hitting the redial button. The restaurant only takes bookings two months ahead of time.
But with two sittings a day and only 42 seats up for grabs, space is at a premium. He said for many of his customers it might be a “once-in-a-lifetime” visit.
The tasting menu, where the dessert trolley currently includes kirsch ice cream and “the smell” of the Black Forest, certainly requires a big wallet as well as a big stomach as its costs £160 a head: you are warned to set aside four hours to chomp your way through it.
Source: The Guardian