The 50th Anniversary Issue

Our 50th birthday issue is on sale now. We're celebrating five decades of great food and travel with our biggest issue yet.

Subscribe to Gourmet

Subscribe to Australian Gourmet Traveller before 27th November, 2016 and receive a Villeroy & Boch platter!

Gourmet on your iPad

Subscribe to Gourmet Traveller for your iPad.

The Fat Duck Melbourne opens, Heston Blumenthal speaks

After months of slow-drip announcements, a ballot with 250,000 people trying to secure one of 14,000 seats, stories of ballot rorting, the migration (and housing) of 70 chefs, waiters and sommeliers from the UK, announcements of a $525 per head price tag, and the breathless Willy Wonka-esque anticipation over who would score the last of the golden tickets, it's finally happened. The Fat Duck has opened in Melbourne.

The former Breezes restaurant on the third level at Crown Towers has been given a thorough going over, starting with a dramatic entrance via a darkened tunnel with what appears to be a small door at the end which is really a small door-sized video screen playing images of the kitchen team in action. Alice in Wonderland comes to mind. At first it seems as though you've come to a dead end and then a black glass wall slides open and you're in.

The room is dark-hued, lit dramatically, carpeted luxuriously and furnished with curved bone-coloured booths, purple upholstered chairs and spacious tables dressed with meticulously ironed linen. One wall is all geometrically framed glass with views over Melbourne's CBD. Another sports a jigsaw, partly completed, that will become whole over the six months of the Fat Duck's Crown tenure, with every guest adding a piece to the puzzle. On a third wall is another Wonderland touch - a giant fob watch that counts down the restaurant's days in Melbourne, stopping after six months, after which it'll be shipped back to the original restaurant in Bray as a memento.

On day one, minutes before the first service, while TV crews filmed and the smartly turned-out staff were the briefed for the final time, Heston Blumenthal threw himself onto a seat at the kitchen-side chef's table (a one-off in Melbourne - the Bray restaurant is too small to accommodate one) to tell us about this incarnation of his most famous restaurant.

GT: Is the multi-course menu here about The Fat Duck's greatest hits or are there new dishes exclusive to Melbourne?
HB: There will be at least one dish that's new but there will be some changes to all the dishes just because we're using mostly Australian produce. All the dishes at The Fat Duck are in a constant state of evolution anyway. Dishes like the bacon-and-egg ice-cream, the snail porridge, the Sounds of the Sea are always being changed as we change, and I see this migration of The Fat Duck to Melbourne as just another part in the narrative of those dishes. When they return to the UK, they will be changed, too, like a new chapter.

GT: Is this version of The Fat Duck like the most extreme form of a pop-up restaurant?
HB: It's not a pop-up and we've tried from the beginning to make it not like a pop-up. What it is, is a restaurant within a restaurant. We have the first layer, which is The Fat Duck, and then, underneath, there's the second layer which will be the permanent restaurant, which is Dinner.

GT: You've brought staff and furnishings with you, what about The Fat Duck cellar?
HB: It's a combination of stuff from our cellar and local wine. At first I thought it would be amazing to have a list of only Australian wine. It seemed weird to me to come to the other side of the world to drink Italian wine, but we decided that we'd go with the best pairings. We've actually found that some of the best pairings we have come with Australian wines - there's a sparkling shiraz with the salmon that's amazing.

GT: At $525 a head for food, The Fat Duck is the most expensive restaurant in Melbourne. How do you justify the expense?
HB: We should probably be charging 10 grand a head for this because of all the costs of this being built and up and running in six months. Plus we've brought all our staff out here and had to house them. It's actually only £30 [just shy of $60] more expensive than at Bray. It's certainly expensive, I'm not denying that, but there's a huge cost of producing this stuff. If we were charging what the real cost was then it would be ridiculous. We couldn't do it if we weren't being subsidised by Crown.

GT: So how often will we be seeing you in the restaurant?
HB: I'm here full-time for the first month and after that I'll be here 50/50 because I still have four restaurants in the UK, plus the TV, plus the supermarkets, plus, plus, plus. There's plenty to do.

Check out more pictures from the opening of Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck Melbourne at Crown.

* * *


The tasting menu is a sequence of dishes designed not only to capture a delicious range of flavours, textures and aromas, but also to bring multi-sensory appeal, culinary history and a real sense of theatre to the dining experience.

* * *

Pommery Grain Mustard Ice cream

Vodka and Lime Sour, Gin and Tonic, Campari Soda

Waldorf Rocket, Salmon Twister and Feast

Caviar Sorbet, Oak Moss and Truffle Toast
(Homage to Alain Chapel)

Joselito Ham, Shaved Fennel

Shiitake, Confit Kombu and Sea Lettuce

Mock Turtle Soup, Pocket Watch and Toast Sandwich


Endive, Vanilla Mayonnaise and Golden Trout Roe

Green Pepper and Caraway






* * *

Wine Pairings are available to complement this Menu
Head Chef: Jonathan Lake
Restaurant Manager: Dimitri A. Bellos
Head Sommelier: Isa Bal

Related content

Check out more pictures from the opening of Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck Melbourne at Crown.

Gourmet Traveller's list of the best restaurants in Melbourne

Gourmet Traveller's list of the best restaurants in Sydney

Gourmet Traveller's list of the best restaurants in Brisbane


Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.

Latest news
Hot Plates: Zaab Street Food, Canberra
Pinbone is opening a new Sydney restaurant
Melbourne’s Rosa’s Kitchen has closed
Hot Plates: Pickett’s Deli & Rotisserie, Melbourne
The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards are coming to Melbourne and we know where and when
Missy French has closed
Signature Collection

Find out more about the Gourmet Traveller Signature Collection by Robert Gordon Australia, including where to buy it in store and online.

Read More
things to do this autumn

Whether it's foraging for wild mushrooms in a picturesque Victorian forest or watching a film by moonlight in Darwin, we've got you covered with 20 exciting autumn experiences from around Australia.

Read More
Gourmet TV

Check out our YouTube channel for our latest cover recipes, chef cooking demos, interviews and more.

Watch Now

You might also like...

Australian chefs to follow on Instagram in 2013

There are a lot of food shots on Instagram: the good, the ba...

Where our chefs want to eat

We asked Australia's leading chefs to name the restaurants t...

Hot 100 2015 - Restaurant news

The world is getting hotter and we’re not talking about glob...

Grant Achatz interview

Pat Nourse talks to the chef of Chicago’s Alinea ahead of hi...

Nahm named best restaurant in Asia

The 2014 50 Best Restaurants in Asia were unveiled this week...

Restaurants cooking with seaweed

With its complexity in flavour and texture, seaweed is the c...

On the pass

Tell us about Tomahawk’s menu, Ali...

S.Pellegrino Young Chef 2015

A mighty fine plate of beef short ribs with roast celery vin...

Dan Barber talks sustainable food

Farm-to-table is a neat catchcry but, argues Dan Barber, one...

Alessandro Pavoni, Ormeggio, Sydney

You’ve just released your first cookbook, a tribute to Lomba...

The 2016 GT Restaurant Guide Top 100

Here's the list of our 2016 Restaurant Guide Top 100. How ma...

First look: 108 at Noma, Copenhagen

Rene Redzepi may be headed to Sydney next month, but he's ba...

Party-starting playlists

Music is a key ingredient that can turn your party from good...

Edible seaweed guide

With its complexity in flavour and texture, seaweed is the c...

get the latest news

Sign up to receive the latest food, travel and dining news direct from Gourmet Traveller headquarters.