Alain Ducasse @ The Dorchester
If only there was such a thing as a 4 Michelin Star restaurant… what a fitting venue it would have made for Jo and myself to mark the turn of our 4 years together. Instead, the newest 3 Michelin star restaurant in London would have to do =D. Expectations were high… We were at the Dorchester, in a glowing, contemporary space which looked like the Dining Room of all Dining Rooms. And the food we were going to be served up was the brainchild of Alain Ducasse – Mr. 19 Michelin Stars himself.
So, what does one get from a dude who has as many Michelin stars as the number of double chins I’m slowly starting to develop? Well, here were the high points of our evening that you can expect to be spoilt with:
- Some seriously good cooking: When the dishes work here, they really really work… every single element on the plate from the lead role to the supporting act… all flawlessly cooked and executed to perfection.
- A front-of-house team that will charm your socks off: Service is truly 3 Michelin-star quality here and as sharp and attentive as it gets. Be prepared to be spoilt to bits by the waiting staff here who have a way of keeping things incredibly relaxed, friendly and informal despite the occasion. No glass will go empty and the plates of food seem to transition seamlessly from one course to the next. Worlds apart from the ‘stiff’ silver-service you can often get in hotel dining rooms. The only exception to the stellar service though was one of the staff who had an unfortunate case of serious B.O. (urggh, what a party pooper…). Thankfully, he wasn’t looking after us for the entire night and we only had to hold our breath while he served us our bread and set our table for the main course
- Desserts, Desserts (…and more Desserts): Pralines… Ganaches… Coffee Macarons to die for… We were even treated to a slice of Louis the XV cake, compliments of the house for our anniversary. And all of this was before we even got to the actual puds we ordered.
Given it was a school night and we only got started past 9pm, we didn’t think we could last the full tasting menu and decided to go A la Carte instead (£55 for 2-courses, £78 for 3-courses, £98 for 4-courses). The bonus which came with ordering A la Carte though was the ability to pick some of Ducasse’s signature dishes (marked *** below)… a series of greatest hits which he also serves up in his 3-star NYC, Paris and Monte Carlo establishments.
I had the ‘Saute Gourmand’ of Lobster to start – one of Ducasse’s signatures. And straight after the first bite of the wonderfully succulent, bright red flesh of the lobster, I didn’t quite want it to ever end. The depth of flavour from the rich, bisque-like sauce was extraordinary… then came the earthy flavours from the ceps and scoops of truffled chicken. A stunner of a dish and one of the finest starters I’ve ever had.
The Langoustine consomme which Jo opted for, though a much simpler dish, really spoke to the quality of the star ingredient. I’m not sure where they get their shellfish from, but these have got to be some of the juiciest and plumpest Langoustines money can buy. The lightly spiced, almost Asian-style consomme of carrots and ginger provided the soothing background music for the Langoustines and velvety ravioli to shine.
Now onto the mains, and though there were plenty of interesting meat and fish options on the menu, I couldn’t quite get my eyes off Ducasse’s signature Tournedos de Rossini. And how divine it was. A glorious 2 inch-thick medallion of melt in the mouth Beef fillet cooked with precision to a beautiful medium rare… a generous whopper of Foie Gras to accompany… a side of wafer-thin ‘sacristain’ potatoes which have been ingeniously curled round hair-rollers… and a long-boat shape portion of the crispest Romaine lettuce. All in all, a timeless classic that was brilliantly executed.
If there was one disappointing dish of the evening, it was the Turbot. Although the fish itself was cooked perfectly, the large chunks of bacon lardons and potato gnocchi (I generally hate gnocchi anyway and would never order it myself), was just all a bit too heavy and clumsy for a fish dish.
Had we known they were going to shower us with treat after treat in between our main and dessert course, we would have ordered a single dessert to share. Anyhoo, when you’re being served up some of the best Macarons and Chocolates this planet has to offer, who is going to say no. The coffee Macaron in particular was to dieeee for. As good, if not better than Pierre Herme and Laduree in my mind. Then, to our absolute delight, they unveiled our surprise course – a Louis XV-style chocolate cake (topped with 24 carat gold-leaf baby!). How do you not love a place that dishes out treats like this on the house??!
We were almost bursting with food by the time our actual puddings showed up. Judging from the grandeur of the serving dish my Baba like in Monte Carlo came in, this clearly wasn’t just your everyday cupcake with some rum and whipped cream. The fact that you can choose from 6 different premium rums to douse the baba in only accentuates the very special nature of this trademark dish. If there is one Baba to rule them all, this is the one.
The Hazelnut souffle, although slightly too sweet, was perfectly risen in texture and form and packed with the same intensity of flavour as that you would find in Italian hazelnut gelati. Surprisingly, the real star of the show though was not the souffle, but the pink grapefruit sorbet. It had the perfect balance between sweetness and zing which helped to cut through the sweetness of the souffle and other puds. Delish.
Thank you to the team at the Dorchester for an amazing anniversary. This was easily one of the best meals I’ve had all year, and probably some of the best French haute cuisine I’m ever going to have.
The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, W1K 1QA | www.alainducasse-dorchester.com | ingested 16th June 2011