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sped98

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester

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Got a table booked for 25th march for dinner at Ducasse.Quite a few menu options ive noticed.Ive been asked if i would be interested in the "Menu D hiver" and to experience the subtle flavour of the Tuber Melansporum ( £180 )and the wine flight to match (£ 95 ).Theres also the "Tasting" menu to consider.( £115 ) and the a la carte ( £95 x 4 courses )...choices choices choices.

Any pointers , tips or anyone had the truffle menu ? would appreciate some feedback. Thanks.

Oh and William Drabble at St James next day for lunch.

Camera batteries fully charged n raring to go...Pics to follow.


CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie

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I have a lunch booking in a few weeks. Quite looking forward to giving the place a go.

Toptable are running 15% discount on the tasting if you book through them. I am thinking lunch menu with wine at the moment though.


Martin

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Thanks Malo , they just managed to squeeze me in for dinner on friday , ill bear the discount in mind next time....would think itll make quite a difference to the bill.

cheers


CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie

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I'll be interested to hear your thoughts once you've been Sped. I think AA Gill summed Ducasse up perfectly on his recent Paris jaunt where he praised his French ventures but went on to add he 'doesn't export well'. A clear swipe at The Dorchester.

I've given it the benefit of the doubt 3 times now and would say it's more like a 1 star that offers a few more luxury ingredients (which you will pay for in the form of supplements). I've said it on other boards, but I remain totally bemused as to how a 3 star gets away without a cheese board/trolley; the 'TV dinner' tray their pre-selection comes in, or rather on, is right up there with the naffest of the naffest in my opinion.

There's no denying the room though, it's incredible and reeks of the money they clearly threw at it. Oh, and the desserts, to be fair the pastry section has always been outstanding on my visits.

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Went there about 6 months ago for lunch.

Very disappointed in the food: hated the décor and the table position.

Expensive for what it was. Won't go again

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Erm....Hummmmm.....what can i say ?

Well ...We started off a little early so ended up with a couple ( as in 2 ) of Mojitos in the piano bar (£36)we went for the Truffle menu ( house recommended )£180 plus select wine flight at £95....The wines were wonderful . 2 champagnes ,2 whites ,2 reds and 1 dessert.

Im not going to bitch too much about the menu , it was very enjoyable to eat.The truffle was 100% undetectable in aroma and taste on every course...until we came to the cheese.It was explained to us that this is because the Truffles are at their best in december and january but now in March they are finished.Can i just mention here that the Truffle was infact from the Perigord, and fresh.Needless to say the management kindly deducted the price of the truffle menu and gave us the dinner for the tasting menu price of £115.

So here we go....course by course.

Our first course was the Langoustine , perfectly cooked , very fresh and topped with a caviar that complimented well.The rich nage married perfectly with the shellfish and delivered lots of flavour from what tasted like roasted shells.

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Second course was the Ravioli , our first taste of the black truffle.I noticed here straight away that i couldnt smell any truffle aroma eminating from the warm food.I tried a piece of truffle on its own - it had no taste at all. The consome on the other hand was a beautiful duck consomme that delivered rich flavours with the melting foie gras encased in the pasta.The pasta was ever so slightly undercooked and came with quite a bite to it,it was ever so slightly off al-dente.P1030118.JPG

Our next course arrived and `wow`, we seen truffle , lots and lots of it.Unfortunately our excitement soon diminished when we discovered that the large amount of truffle on and around the wonderful scallop was infact totally tasteless and had absolutely zero truffle flavour, it was simply a texture.I commented to my dining companion that if we were to eat this dish

blindfolded then we wouldn`t have known that the truffle existed in the dish.The huge king scallop was perfectly cooked ,sweet , caramelised and indeed a delight to eat with the vegetable accompaniments.

P1030134.JPG

The Sea bass was an exceptional piece of fish , perfectly cooked , crisp outer , moist interior and had the delicate taste of a wild specimen.Once again , plenty of truffle `texture` but no flavour.The sauce was `old school classic` and well made.

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On to the main course and our first ever tasting of the legendary "Rossini".I cant believe that ive been into food for so long but had never got around to experiencing one of the worlds most famous dishes.The beef delivered a perfect degree of cooking and flavour.The meat well aged and cut through with no pressure on the knife.It was an amazing piece of beef.The foie gras balanced the dish perfectly well and the reduced sauce made a heavenly combination.Unfortunately once again , no truffle flavour came through in the Perigueux sauce but was compensated by a classic , well reduced and `varnish like one...beautiful.

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The cheese course , at last , we could both smell the tell tale smell even before it landed on the table.We both looked at each other, smiled and said the word `truffle` in unison. The cheese delivered the goods and hit the mark , perfectly matured and had an amazing `wow factor`. Simple charcoal and plain crackers were all that was needed to make this a memorable cheese that ticked the boxes all around.

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Now for my favourite part of any meal, the desserts.I have a very sweet tooth and always look forward to this part like a child in a sweetshop.I was ever so slightly disappointed that the worlds best dessert "Le Louis XV chocolate bar" wasn`t on the list.I have been looking forward to that one for quite a while now.In the absence of the XV i chose the Coco caramel

delight , a bar of bittersweet caramel accompanied by a very tangy lemon puree and a well made ice cream.Paired with the well selected dessert wine it had me smiling and had activated my sweet cravings.

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My dining companion selected the Contemporary Vacherin , a very simple and classic dessert made in the traditional way. An offering of different types of Rum was presented at the table.

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The dinner finished with treats from the trolley and coffee.We were surprised that this was not included as part of our tasting menu but charged on the bill as an extra £10 supplement.All in all , just like the Fat duck , we`ve been and we`ve bought the t-shirt.....Enough said.

As for the mystery of the Perigord truffle...I`m certainly no foraging expert here but tuber Melanosporum (The perigord black ) and tuber brumale ( The Moss truffle ) could have done an amazing `quick switch` somewhere down the market and not many people would have been much wiser.....Enough said.

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Edited by sped98 (log)

CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie

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Oh and just for the Camera info - Just to be a bit discreet i bought a Panasonic Lumix LX5 for a carry around.Its lots lighter than my Canon Cannon that weighs half a ton with the lens on.

The Lumix came out tops on almost every review website i looked on.Some rated it as the best compact ever made and scored it 10/10.Basically this camera is a "re badged Leica" , its got the Leica Summicron lens and apparently matches the £600 leica in photo quality.I managed to get it for £299 on amazon, it was £280 a week later....bargain of the century.

A fantastic camera all around and very highly recommended for foodie snappers. My pics came out pretty well considering that the light was really not good at all in Ducasse.

Look out for my "william Drabble pics" ( 7 park place , st james )that ill be posting as soon as they`re edited , the light was perfect and the results were 100% better.


CumbriafoodieCumbriafoodie

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I know it get knocked here, and the truffle thing is dissapointing, but that food (and the pictures!!) looks fantastic. Old school, but fantastic.

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Good report Alan,

I think you have saved me a bit of money, because I now have no desire to visit. Not that I was intending too, as most of the reports that I have read have been critical. Even the freebie event hosted by their PR for a group of food bloggers met with some derision.

The food does not look or sound special enough to justify three star pricing when clearly it is one star cooking.

The a la carte is littered with supplements. Langoustines £10, Beef £10, Turbot £10, Lobster £10. That is on top of the £95 plus 12.5% service charge. In fairness the tasting looks a touch better value but does not come across as sparkling. Mind you having said that your report is based on the Truffle menu which is over £200 when you include the service charge. Yes I know its Park Lane and they have chucked shed loads of money at it, but there is a now a huge choice of top end dining in London. And a lot of it is only a mile down the road. (Heston, Koffmann, Wareing, Ramsey, Boulud, etc) Of course very close by in The Hilton you have Galvin at Windows too, which is Michelin starred.

I'm more looking forward to your William Drabble review, especially for the food and those photos from the LX5. In fact although I have just recently spent roughly the same amount on the Canon S95 I'm now tempted to purchase the Panasonic, but not at the price Amazon are now quoting which is £345.

I could of course justify the purchase to my wife, because I have just saved about the same amount by not dining at Ducasse :wink:

Thank You.


Edited by david goodfellow (log)

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David - If you haven't already, I'd definitely give the lunch menu a go. At £50 inc. 2 glasses of wine it's a good deal imo, and they don't skimp on portion sizes like some lunch deals - we were unable to finish our desserts/petit fours!

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David - If you haven't already, I'd definitely give the lunch menu a go. At £50 inc. 2 glasses of wine it's a good deal imo, and they don't skimp on portion sizes like some lunch deals - we were unable to finish our desserts/petit fours!

Thanks for the heads up.

You know what they say "never say never"

It does seem decent value, on par perhaps with Marcus Wareing's lunch deal which is the same money. Except Ducasse throws in coffee and water.

I think the lunch at Le Gavroche is about the same money. We are off their next week so will report back. Not sure if wine is included in their's, must just check it out.

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Ironically of course, I would wager the cheese smelt so good because they could beat some truffle oil into the filling and/or dressing.

On the subject of value I think AD is actually some of the best value in London at the high end. The trick is to go for the three course alc (78 quid, up from 75 quid I notice). All you're missing by not opting for the four course is a demi portion of a seafood dish.

For that you get your standard amuse, starter, main, pre-dessert, pudding. Also make sure you insist on a crack at the mignardaises trolley at the end (ask for a doggy bag). They also give you iced buns to take away when you leave. You actually get quite a lot of bang for the buck. Also compared to AD at the Plaza you are paying less than half the price and getting 80% of the experience, which is value in my book.

On the subject of the food, I note this is probably the most divisive high end restaurant in London. I personally think it operates at the level of a decent two star. Certainly the food is more precisely executed than a one star. Of course you need to be aware you are going for a certain style, a sort of high-end classic-luxury which you get best either at AD or at the Greenhouse.

If you are looking for bells and whistles, this is not the place. The thing to bear in mind is that at the highest level the secret is often what isn't put in rather than what is. In effect you pay more for less - i.e. good ingredients, well matched, perfectly cooked. Ambroisie is the obvious example of this. I also recently had dinner at Le Bernardin and was blown away by how great the food tasted and how simple it was. Even for the principle alc main there were only three or four elements in the dish. That is not to say AD is operating at this level (I think it is notch below). But when you go there you need to know what you're looking for.

J


Edited by Jon Tseng (log)

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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Just clicked on their website and am not at all enamoured with the lunch menu.

I could just about muster enthusiasm if I was dining alone, but can't quite get four dishes that appeal, never mind six.

Won't be dashing down Park Lane until that menu ends.

Jon's correct, the a la carte is the way forward I think.

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We just came back from lunch at AD. The lunch menu is good value at £50 inclusive of 2 glasses of wine and 1/2 bottle of water. The staff are very friendly and certain elements of the food was really good. However my main course (the basil pasta) was really poor and undercooked which I certainly didn't expect at this level.

Some elements are 1*, some 2* (the mignardises) and the basil pasta would not have been 1* even had it been properly cooked. How this place got 3* is a mystery to me. If you go expecting a solid 2* performance you will be happy but 3* it was not


www.diariesofadomesticatedgoddess.blogspot.com

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In the Fall ’08, I completed my mission to visit all of Alain Ducasse gastronomy restaurants (including the one in NY). Things did not stay constant in the restaurant industry; after the closing of Ducasse Essex House, apparently the current Monégasque chef still had a strong ambition to hold 3-star Michelin for three different restaurants. I believe this might be important for him after knowing Joel Robuchon, possibly his main ‘competitor’, achieved that. Thus in ’07, he opened another restaurant bearing his name - Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester London (ADL) with the intention to attain Michelin’s highest rating. The rest was history and he managed to get that. As a matter of fact, Ducasse had chances to be the first chef with four 3-star restaurants after the takeover of Le Meurice. It could be interesting since Robuchon seemed to have similar goals by opening La Grande Maison in Bordeaux by putting one of his most capable chefs – Tomonori Danzaki to lead his only fine dining restaurant in Europe.

 

The journey of ADL was not that different from ADNY. There were strong critics/oppositions and plenty of negative reviews in the first couple of years before it eventually settled down and ADL seems to be doing very well now. The restaurant is relatively big for fine dining standard (probably can sit around 70+ people); it was a busy Saturday night. The dining room was, as expected, luxurious and well-appointed though not over the top as its Paris and Monaco counter parts. There were some wood panels, yellow/green “macarons/buttons” on the wall and the famous table lumiere. Additionally, the room was also decorated with good quality materials in light colors (tan + cream). I was told the table looking out over Park Lane during lunch time was fantastic. As far as the food was concerned, I think ADL was pretty much Ducasse Essex house moving to London with ingredients, whenever possible, were sourced in the UK and the service/decor was less formal. The essence of the food here is the elegant and traditional French cuisine with some modern twist. The menu’s was concept was almost the same as ADNY: the basic ones were appetizer + fish and/or meat + dessert; then there were a seasonal tasting menu and premium menu (usually involving truffle and caviar). As per the recommendation of Denis Courtiade, the maitre de maison of ADPA, we should consult with the restaurant director – Damien Pepin. We followed his suggestion and let him ‘surprise’ us.

 

Essentially, we were supposed to enjoy 7 courses – sometimes my wife and I would eat the same dish and the other times we had different items. Note that I somehow did not feel really well towards the end of the meal (in particular after the meat course that I can merely consumed ¾ portion); so I skipped the cheese, and only managed to eat less than half of the dessert. It got nothing to do with the food, more due to fatigue and perhaps the cold weather after an intense 2-week travelling in Europe. This meal was near the end of the trip and unfortunately I fell sick here. That being said, I believe I was still well enough to give “fair” judgment about this dinner experience. So we ate the following:

 

As soon as we’re seated, we were given a generous portion of gougeres in (emmental) cheese flavor, paprika and pepper – airy and puffy, good but I slightly prefer the one served in ADNY several years ago with bechamel sauce inside the choux.

1st – both of us started with seared of a plump North Scotland scallop served with rich sautéed cauliflower and pungent Alba truffle. It’s well-executed and very yummy

2nd – My spouse E had succulent Scottish langoustine that was nicely complemented by granny smith and coral vinaigrette dressing; my raw & cooked mushrooms was so-so; lacking in distinctive flavors and textures. I also found the parsley reduction too dominant

3rd – E received creamy and not-so-rich seared foie gras served with good quality artichokes and hazelnuts; I had a fabulous sauté gourmand lobster dish with flavorful and balanced sauce. The supporting stuffs were very good too such as the al-dente homemade semolina pasta and soft chicken quenelles. Deserved to be the restaurant’s signature dish    

 

4th – wife: delectable sea bass with roasted cep, mushroom sauce and almond; it was solid and but not wow. The kitchen served me a firm and tasty seared turbot, ‘the king of fish’, served with root vegetables and light-flavored sauce.

5th – the main course was the classic duck (from Burgaud house) dish with turnip, beetroot and an excellent rouennaise sauce. The duck breast, cooked pink, was delicious though a bit ‘chewy’ nevertheless overall it’s very enjoyable

6th – each of us had an exotic fruit dessert: refreshing with great contrast in flavors and temperatures. It was very lovely after heavy & rich dishes.

I felt dizzy at this moment and simply asked for the bill, then rushed for a taxi to get back to our hotel. So we had no mignardises this time, simply receiving a box of chocolate produced in Ducasse Paris factory.

 

Throughout the meal, we shared 2010 Meursault clos de la velle Domaine darviot-perrin put in a carafe (more or less half a bottle) whereas for the duck, I drank a glass of 2008 Morey saint denis rue de vere perrot-minot; both were enjoyable. The markup was, of course, really high. Back to the food, I thought generally it went well. From appetizers, fish/seafood and meat as well as dessert – ADL went from strength to strength though nothing was absolutely mind blowing; simply tasty, consistent and well executed. For me, it’s the best restaurant in London, better than Gordon RHR. I scored 95/100 (2 ¾* Michelin level, about as good as Osteria Francescana), but still below Ducasse flagship restaurants in Hotel de Paris and Plaza Athenee. You won’t be disappointed if you come with the right mindset and expectation. Unlike me, my spouse liked this place even more; she said that ADL was even better than Dal Pescatore and Gagnaire Paris, which I didn’t quite agree. The service was friendly and efficient. Because it’s a busy weekend, Damien could not come that often to our table, but one young staff in charge of our table was doing well (always anticipated our needs) – unfortunately we forgot his name. He used to work at Guy Savoy Paris and was very passionate about the world of gastronomy, especially French cuisine. Despite a big challenge earlier after the opening, Ducasse Dorchester ultimately thrived in all sectors. We were told that Chef Ducasse was very supportive across the board (from food & wine to service & decor). Whatever the staffs need, it was not too difficult to be fulfilled. Maybe Sultan Brunei had no (budget) limit to make his Dorchester Collection hotels among the worlds best.  

 

You can see the pictures here: https://picasaweb.google.com/118237905546308956881/AlainDucasseAtTheDorchesterLondonUnitedKingdom 

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