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Ducasse to open at the Dorchester


ameiden
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  • 2 weeks later...

It is hard to see why this restaurant gets so much blame. After having been there yesterday I must say that it was the best meal I've had in London so far. It isn't the most creative cooking, but certainly perfect throughout. Also, what I find important, you are sure not to see any elements on the plates that don't have a role in the dish. The 2 stars are an accurate judgement of this cuisine and really deserved, as the service and decor are wonderful.

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  • 1 month later...
  • 1 month later...

had another meal there, which was partly even better than my previous ones. A huge piece of turbot was perfectly cooked and served with beautiful asparagus, Champagne sabayon and crayfish. Easily one of the finest dishes I can recall having in London. Also spectacular were Scallops Primavera style and a strawberry/lemon desserts.

Less great was my starter and 2nd dessert.

Their bread is also a real winner and is made from scratch in the kitchens.

This really gets better and better every time, will be interesting to see where it'll end up.

The pics came out amazingly well today, due to the good light in the room at lunch.

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Ducasse on Friday night, I booked this a few weeks ago when a friend rang me to say that it was the best meal he had eaten this year. It wasn't without fault , the wine list is ridiculous, the wine train was a little ho-hum and it shouldn't be at £80 per person for 5 glasses. Service was very good, discreet and friendly at the same time.

The gougeres were good enough and generous enough that we had to ask the waiter to remove them before we filled ourselves up. Bread was fantastic though again I had to hold back for fear of ruining the rest of my appetite. Both the sourdough and baguette had great flavour, and beautiful crusts alongside a nice chewy dough. Bread was served with reasonable butter and Fontainebleau which seemed unnecessary.

The amuse was a "Delicate crayfish veloute, royale of foie gras". Served at room temperature the veloute was wonderfully silky and indeed "delicate" allowing the foie gras element to come through without overpowering. It was served in a beautiful ceramic egg.

Rose of Marinated scallops, lamb's lettuce and celeriac, black truffle sauce. Really good scallops sliced thinly, a distinct truffle sauce, partly dried tomatoes added the sweet element along with a celeriac puree which added a nice peppery hit

Roasted Chicken and Lobster, sweetbread, creamy juice. I was curious about this dish, it sounded like it shouldn't work and for me it didn't but not for the reasons I expected. I expected the meat elements to jar but they didn't manage that, they were, if anything too understated and just didn't come together. The dish also suffered from a lack of seasoning which when adjusted improved the sauce immeasurably (in fact the sauce was very nice). The other problem with this dish was that the chicken was a little tired, I'm guessing it was breast meat that had been pressed and the skin crisped up on top but it had the appearance of something that had been sitting around a little too long.

Braised Halibut, citrus and swiss chards, egg plant condiment was a masterpiece in saucing. The citrus elements were extremely well balanced with roe, grapefruit being the flavour to the fore but again never overpowering the fish.

I swapped the Halibut for the Fillet of Turbot “Matelote”, potato gnocchi. Again this dish had a problem with a lack of seasoning which once corrected made for a fantastic dish. The Gnocchi were light enough that I question whether they had potato in them! The Turbot was from the thin end of the fish but was still perfectly cooked and very good quality, it stood up well to the Matelote sauce which had good acidity, crispy bacon slices completed the composition.

Roasted Rack and Saddle of Lamb, spring vegetables had very good pyrennean lamb, we were advised that this would be served cooked a little more than pink as they thought this was necessary and after tasting it I certainly wouldn't argue, good crisp skin and well flavoured lamb, among st the best I have tasted in a London Restaurant.

I again had swapped in a course from the ALC, Roasted farm house veal loin from Limousin

tender potatoes, choron sauce. Oh boy this was great - once I had added a little salt . Again the veal shone, beautifully cooked and well flavoured, showing how good veal can be. The Sauce again showing elements of acidity from the wine vinegar, the selection of vegetables was hard to discern as they all appeared to have been chopped up they added a nice crunch and again a little more acidity which counteracted the rich dark sauce. The thinly sliced potato fondants were also a treat of which I could have eaten more.

Up until this point I had been kicking myself for not splurging on the gourgeres and bread a little more but the rich sauces rapidly filled me up and I was going to struggle a little from here. A little more on the sauces, a lot of the dishes have sauces poured at the table and a big serving as well, no drizzles or dots of jus, lovely big plates of proper sauces which is just as well as they are fabulous and have exceptional balance. This is something that just isn't fashionable any more but here they demonstrate that they still have a place in fine dining.

Cheese was a plated course, the highlight of which was 4 year old Bernard Antony Comte, even so this wasn't the best kept piece of BA cheese I have tried. The four cheeses,a fresh(ish) goats cheese, Comte, Roquefort and another I forget were all served with accompanying relishes. Roquefort had a lovely pear chutney(?). The goats cheese and pepper dressing etc. Personally I would rather see an a cheese trolley, I'm not one for eating my cheese with anything other than a piece of bread.

Very good macaroons and chocolates followed. All made on site, the ganache was particularly impressive, the macaroons the best I have tried in London.

Finally praline chocolate biscuit, milk/salt ice cream. This is an obvious nod to the famous Louis XV dessert. It is a beautiful concoction, slightly heavier than its Monaco counterpart but never the less a very good dessert. The milk/salt ice cream was a delight, a light salt caramel flavour. A very good dessert.

We finished with peppermint tea which was charged at a hefty £5 each which seemed a little mean. We also did receive any petit-fours whether this was a service error I'm not sure. I must admit it didn't really occur to me until later.

Overall an excellent meal, hopefully they can sort out the seasoning issues ( a minor though annoying problem that Inotice Felix had as well). In comparison with other 3 stars in this country it was easily their equal (I say this having avoided UK 3 stars for the last 3 or 4 years) and will surely gain a third star this year. It struck me that they were using excellent ingredients to create a fine dining meal, of course this is always the way it should be but I often feel that some kitchens are taking short cuts with the quality of their ingredients.

Is it the best meal I have eaten in London? I'm not sure, it would certainly come close but I am trying to compare it to meals that I ate maybe ten years ago and that is difficult to do. I will return, sooner rather than later.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Can't you edit posts any more?

I meant thigh not breast meat (the thought of pressing breasts seemed more appealing at the time though thighs are good to press too :laugh: )

Also I "We also did receive any petit-fours whether this was a service error I'm not sure." should have read "We also didn't receive any petit-fours whether this was a service error I'm not sure."

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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  • 4 weeks later...

I ate at Ducasse last Thursday and also had the tasting menu, identical to Matthew.

Overall I thought it was an excellent meal, worthy of the two stars. As previously mentioned the saucing is the standout element of eating here.

We especially loved the early elements of the meal:

- crawfish veloute - incredibly smooth

- marinated scallops - lovely fresh flavours

- roast chicken & lobster - super indulgent and very rich.

The halibut in the citrus sauce divided opinion, (I felt a good combination) but the main courses of veal & lamb were very good.

The one significant problem we felt was that the restaurant seemed to give up at the dessert course. It was a brilliant meal up to and including the cheese, then we got petit fours for pre-dessert, which confused us and then the praline/chocolate biscuit which although nice was a little bit meh.....and just didn't live up to the thought and effort which went into the rest of the meal.

That aside I would have no problem recommending Ducasse. It's obviously really expensive, but the lunch menu seems excellent value alongside it.

keep eating

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I ate at Ducasse last Thursday and also had the tasting menu, identical to Matthew.

Overall I thought it was an excellent meal, worthy of the two stars. As previously mentioned the saucing is the standout element of eating here.

We especially loved the early elements of the meal:

-  crawfish veloute - incredibly smooth

- marinated scallops - lovely fresh flavours

- roast chicken & lobster - super indulgent and very rich.

The halibut in the citrus sauce divided opinion, (I felt a good combination) but the main courses of veal & lamb were very good.

The one significant problem we felt was that the restaurant seemed to give up at the dessert course. It was a brilliant meal up to and including the cheese, then we got petit fours for pre-dessert, which confused us and then the praline/chocolate biscuit which although nice was a little bit meh.....and just didn't live up to the thought and effort which went into the rest of the meal.

That aside I would have no problem recommending Ducasse. It's obviously really expensive, but the lunch menu seems excellent value alongside it.

keep eating

If I'm not mistaken, it is common practice for restaurants in France that little chocolates and macaroons are brought to the table as 'pre-desserts' before your actual dessert arrives. This allows you to nibble away while waiting. At ADAD, they further 'barrage' you with a bon-bon trolley if you have coffee/tea.

By the by, I felt that the desserts were probably the strongest element of my meal - the Rum au Baba was definitely at 3* level and the macaroons were definitely some of the best I have tried in London. (Perhaps the pastry chef had an off night.) If anything, I found the savoury courses rather weak but I did make it a point to let the chef know about this and I guess they must have taken my comments on board. (In case you are interested to read my experience, it is on my blog - follow my signature) I guess I will have to wait and see - I am revisiting the restaurant next week.

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If I'm not mistaken, it is common practice for restaurants in France that little chocolates and macaroons are brought to the table as 'pre-desserts' before your actual dessert arrives. This allows you to nibble away while waiting. At ADAD, they further 'barrage' you with a bon-bon trolley if you have coffee/tea.

I don't recall ever having seen this. Yes, macaroons and chocolates as petit fours, with the coffee, but never before the dessert proper.

Did they forget Fergal's dessert, or did they serve a cheese course instead?

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If I'm not mistaken, it is common practice for restaurants in France that little chocolates and macaroons are brought to the table as 'pre-desserts' before your actual dessert arrives. This allows you to nibble away while waiting. At ADAD, they further 'barrage' you with a bon-bon trolley if you have coffee/tea.

I don't recall ever having seen this. Yes, macaroons and chocolates as petit fours, with the coffee, but never before the dessert proper.

Did they forget Fergal's dessert, or did they serve a cheese course instead?

The Louis XV in Monte Carlo serves macaroons and chocolates before the dessert. You get other things afterwards (nougat and marshmallow etc.), and then some madelines to take home on your way out the door!

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If I'm not mistaken, it is common practice for restaurants in France that little chocolates and macaroons are brought to the table as 'pre-desserts' before your actual dessert arrives. This allows you to nibble away while waiting. At ADAD, they further 'barrage' you with a bon-bon trolley if you have coffee/tea.

I don't recall ever having seen this. Yes, macaroons and chocolates as petit fours, with the coffee, but never before the dessert proper.

Did they forget Fergal's dessert, or did they serve a cheese course instead?

I was having a conversation about this very topic with Mr. Hayler as I found this practise of serving chocolates and macaroons as a 'pre-dessert' to be rather odd and only practised in certain French restaurants in London (e.g. Ducasse, Ambassade de L'ile). Apparently this practise is quite common place in France but probably an alien concept over here. I guess British restaureteurs prefer to squeeze their customers off as much money as possible (I am referring of course to the practise of offering petit fours only if you have coffee or tea).

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I don't recall ever having seen this. Yes, macaroons and chocolates as petit fours, with the coffee,  but never before the dessert proper.

That's nothing, we were up at The Devonshire Arms a couple of weeks back (I will review it soon )and they brought out our pre desserts after we had finished our main puddings. Even cheekily trying to fob us off saying it was an extra gift from the kitchen to finish our meal- yeah right.

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I was having a conversation about this very topic with Mr. Hayler as I found this practise of serving chocolates and macaroons as a 'pre-dessert' to be rather odd and only practised in certain French restaurants in London (e.g. Ducasse, Ambassade de L'ile). Apparently this practise is quite common place in France but probably an alien concept over here. I guess British restaureteurs prefer to squeeze their customers off as much money as possible (I am referring of course to the practise of offering petit fours only if you have coffee or tea).

I bow to Andy's greater experience in these matters. I did live in Paris but only ate in a few 3 stars and they (nor the other starred restaurants I tried) did not do so.

I wonder is it in lieu of a small pre-dessert? Maybe it is the more traditional approach and the nouveau pre-dessert concept has usurped the practice.

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So what has changed at this place for it to be getting glowing reviews on here these days, it took a hammering when it first opened, is it a different chef or did it just take some time to bed down and get going?

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I went a couple of months ago and, save for the desserts, it was still greatly disappointing. Others on here had the savoury dishes and liked/loved them. I thought the veal dish especially was terrible.

So just how busy is this place at the moment, in view of the times we are in, the price of the place and very mixed bag of reviews?

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I went a couple of months ago and, save for the desserts, it was still greatly disappointing. Others on here had the savoury dishes and liked/loved them. I thought the veal dish especially was terrible.

Seconded - desserts apart it was really dreadful. Boring, dated cuisine not particularly well executed and with indifferent quality ingredients. Even the service was bad...

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I went a couple of months ago and, save for the desserts, it was still greatly disappointing. Others on here had the savoury dishes and liked/loved them. I thought the veal dish especially was terrible.

Agreed, the savouries are rather hit and miss and depends on how lucky with what you order.

So just how busy is this place at the moment, in view of the times we are in, the price of the place and very mixed bag of reviews?

Apart from Saturday night and possibly Friday night, the restaurant isn't that packed. You can pretty much get a table at a second's notice on most nights bar Saturday - although to be fair the restaurant caters for a larger amount of covers than most. Btw, if you look online, there is an offer for 20% off dinner.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Revisited Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester for my graduation dinner. It was a very disappointing experience altogether and a stark contrast from my first visit in February. The food was fine although asides from desserts and the barbajuans, nothing really came close to a 2* level. Worst yet, they deemed it appropriate to send out an overcooked piece of steak - a basic error that should not happen at a gastro pub let alone one harbouring 3* hopes and charging ridiculous amounts.

Service on the night was frankly all over the place and deserves a special mention. By that, I don’t mean that anyone was rude to us but there was a distinct lack of care and attention to detail. I was first to praise their service so it pains me that I have to crucify the poor service this time around. When you are dining in a private dining room (the table Lumiere), it is only natural that you are detached from the main dining room where you could easily flag for attention. It was a bit surprising that no one was assigned specifically to our care. If a humble Chinese restaurant like Pearl Liang can afford to allocate us a dedicated server for the entire evening I do not see why this was not the case here. We were simply brought the food, left to eat it, and they would then come back perhaps 30 minutes later to collect the plates. This meant that most of the time we were done eating a good 10-15 mins before they would collect the plates. No checking with us if everything was ok or if our wines needed topping up. In my case, they didn’t even bother to enquire if there was a problem when I left half a piece of my over-cooked steak on the plate. Nor do I enjoy getting up each time I want them to clear the plates or top up my glass of wine. With all these delays and slow service, the entire 6 course meal (7 if you include the chocolates and macaroons) took a ridiculous 4.5 hours. To give you some perspective of this, a meal 2 days later where I enjoyed no less than 15 courses took 5 hours. Oh and please don’t remind me that they did not bring the bon-bon trolley around (this depite all of us having coffee or tea). Did they just assume I wasn’t aware of it despite the trolley conveniently placed next to the room or that we were too full?

You can read about the meal in its entirety (as well as more of my ranting) here. I really hope that someone at ADAD reads this (and I know most restaurants out there read blogs) and whips the service back into shape as I actually enjoyed the food here the first time around.

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  • 4 months later...

I had dinner here 9 days ago and I was quite impressed and well-fed. I had the Crayfish, egg, mushrooms and Nantua sauce then the Beef and foie gras Rossini with Périgueux sauce followed by the Baba. The starter was rich, probably due to the copious quantity of mushrooms but could have done with more crayfish and less mushroom, the sauce Nantua was delicious, a well-composed dish. The main was equally delicious but did not strike me as full of skill apart from the sauce, and was served with a quarter of the heart of a 'sucrine' little gem lettuce providing a much-needed light contrast to the beef and fois gras, but I thought they could have served a more 'exotic' difficult-to-obtain French lettuce with some mache nantaise instead. The Baba left me struggling to finish but was just the right texture and served in a fancy shiny contraption, this was a star product. There was the gougere and royale of broccoli with crunchy veg beforehand but was surprised there were no canapes as well. The Fontainebleau was a revelation to me, whipped cream and cheese. Then, even though I had no coffee or tea, I was given 2 bags of the mignardises to take away along with my unfinished macarons and chocolates. I was surpised to see salt, fleur de sel de Camargue, and pepper on the table as I thought that if the food considered by the chef to be 'perfect' then no additional seasoning should be considered necessary, was that not the opinion of our MPW ? The place was quite busy with the Table Lumiere being occupied as well. I know that there have been mixed reviews of this place but, personally, I would expect this place to retain its two stars at the least.

Edited by cachan (log)
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  • 3 months later...

AnsyHayler still seems to adore this place as of Feb 2010, giving it an 8 out of 10 on his website.

I am really hesitating. So many other reviews on both square meal and elsewhere say the food isn't as good as at Gordon Ramsay RHR, and it is overpriced.

So here's what I want to know about Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester - who (besides Michelin) loves it???

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Me, even with its faults it was probably better than anything I've eaten in this country for 10 years.

Having said that, there are so many negative reports that I can't work out whether it is an automatic reaction against the Ducasse empire, the money people object to, or whether the food is only good on occasion. If the latter I was very lucky.

"Why would we want Children? What do they know about food?"

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Good Monday evening to you, Phil D,

Two bloggers with very refined palates, even if their reviews are from a year or more ago!

Frankly, it's a bit confusing. Usually Andy Hayler, et al. are good gauges - and then the general public tends to agree as well.

But in this case, opinions seem to be so split.

Genuiness at wordpress hated it and his fine dining blog opinions were spot on.

I am happy to spend more than 150 pounds per person for a truly scrumptious meal. I loathe spending even 75 pounds for a mediocre one.

(Waterside Inn is a good example - highly rated with 3 stars, the food was nothing impressive compared to Gordon Ramsay RHR or The Square or Hibiscus, and VERY overpriced.)

Grrr - I guess I won't know unless I try it for myself.

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