It seems diners at The Fat Duck, the world-famous Berkshire eatery owned by crackpot pan-rattler, Heston Blumenthal, have been getting a lot less than they’d bargained for following the release of his latest menu in the run up to the Festive Saeson.

One of the new signature dishes, Essences of Soltice, with a portion size that makes the average nouvelle cuisine offering seem more like a full English is causing considerable controversy in foodie circles.

A furious diner said yesterday: “We had it, and when it arrived there was just a balloon on each plate with a tube sticking out of it. You had to suck ‘Winter Solstice-infused air’ out of the balloon and that was it! Tasted of nothing and cost us £110 a head. Bloody rip-off! We were starving after our dinner and had to stop at a kebab van on the way home!”

But the super chef was quick to defend his new menu and told us: “I refute the suggestion ‘Essences’ is a rip-off. That dish has taken me over three years to develop and perfect, and if the diner approaches it correctly, and releases a little puff at a time, instead of sucking it all down in one big gulp like a lardy-arsed greedy-guts, then they will get flavours of roast turkey and new potatoes with hints of mulled wine and evocations of a glacial evening winter ice a a full moon rises slowly above a distant horizon. It’s a very sophisticated offering and extremely popular with princes William and Harry when they pop in to see us.”

Food nutritionist at Imperial College, Alan Dixon, analysed the dish for The Blether and concluded: “It has no calorific value, no carbohydrate content, no protein and no fat either. All my tests show that it is essentially nothing more than a balloon filled with slightly odd-smelling air.”

So is it a rip-off or the very pinnacle of haute cuisine? Well if you want to make up your own mind you might have to wait quite some time, because the restaurant is fully booked until August 2024. However one thing is for sure, life continues to be a gas for Heston.