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Ducasse to open at the Dorchester


ameiden
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I've done it! I've actually found a good review:

http://campion.thisislondon.co.uk/

I am almost surprised Charles finds it so good. He does emphasise the success of classical cooking technique shown but then says Ducasse is tempering the full-on 3 star experience. Also he must have much deeper pockets than most of us if he reckons the restaurant is not wildly expensive for what it is.

He also says that 'The message boards have been all a twitter with often ill-informed discussions' so I think we can discount the review on account of Campion suffering from a mild case of dementure.

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I've done it! I've actually found a good review:

http://campion.thisislondon.co.uk/

I am almost surprised Charles finds it so good.

Don't be - Charles Campion is so easily pleased I can't remember the last time he gave anywhere a bad review!

True. But at least he has more experience and knowledge than most out there (Palmer et al).

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I don;t think anyone wants that zoticus, I certainly didn't and will certainly make a return visit in the new year to see if it has improved. I don't think I've noted one post where anyone has shown any type of vitiol about the opening. It is merely that it is not, as yet, up to scratch

If a man makes a statement and a woman is not around to witness it, is he still wrong?

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Strange, given all the moaning about London restaurants, that's it's almost as if some actually wanted Ducasse to fail.

I don't think anyone wants a good restaurant to fail. What people object to is that Ducasse at the Dorchester seems to be a scaled-down version of his true flagship restaurants (e.g. Monaco) yet still priced at the top end. The impression given is that he is taking the restaurant-goers of London for granted, assuming they don't know any better and so why bother. On top of that there's the £24 house champagne and a general feeling of carelessness when it comes to plating (see earlier in this thread).

It's a shame, because I think London really would have appreciated a new place aiming for the Michelin 3* level. I certainly would! Instead we seem to have ended up with a cynical attempt to fleece corporate diners (by all accounts the main percentage of their customer base so far).

Maybe I'm being overly sensitive but I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one who feels this way.

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having read the interview jan moir did with ducasse in the FT i think the situation seems a bit clearer, to me anyway.

All the hype ahead of the opening was suggesting the full ducasse 3* plaza athenee/ louis xv experience was coming to london and that was the standard expected.

although the pricing is top end for london at £115 (?) a tasting menu the average spend per head in paris /monaco is 300 -400e, so i suspect ducasse's view rightly or wrongly is what did you expect? you're paying half price! If they hadn't hyped up the 'it's the full 3*' expectation then maybe it would have had a happier opening?

so perhaps it is farmed seabass etc - even though that is denied, it's unlikely to be the same gear as in paris /monaco given the price disparity.

you don't win friends with salad

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But I'm not sure that's really comparing like with like; it's a completely different market. The price of 3 stars in Paris (and Monaco) is far higher than in the UK.

With the London market as it is, you couldn't arrive charging Paris price tags - the press and the population would revolt. As an opening price, £115 for a tasting menu already puts it above London's only 3 star (GR RHR is £110), and it can only go higher. I think we were entitled to expect his A game.

Take New York for example - when AD went there, his prices were the equivalent to the Dorchester menu. It earned 3 stars from michelin, and was by all accounts the real deal.

It sounds to me like the whole thing was badly thought out. Which is clear from the sacking of ex Spoon chef (Spoon! For goodness' sake) 2 weeks before opening.

And like everyone else on this thread (where does Zoticus get his ideas from?), I was really hoping it to be a success. At the moment, the overwhelming body of opinion suggests that it isn't. So why spend your money there when it could buy you dinner at any other restaurant in the country?

Whether it turns into one is down to Ducasse and his team. I truly hope they give it the attention it deserves.

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You also can't compare UK and French prices that easily because of labour costs. As far as I understand in most French retaurants (even at the top end) they have to have two sets of staff due to their obsessive adherence to European working restriction garbage. This is further strengthened by the might of the French unions.

Lets face it Ducasse at the Dorchester appears to be a fair old British rip off. And those of us who have not been having cancelled our bookings can make relatively informed judgements based on the views of others. Nobody ever seems to be vitriolic at paying sky high prices at Gavroche where I've never had a bad meal at over £100 per head for food. All the other top end restaurants in town at the moment must be breathing a big sigh of relief and laughing all the way to the bank on the flop Ducasse is being at the present time.

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But I'm not sure that's really comparing like with like; it's a completely different market. The price of 3 stars in Paris (and Monaco) is far higher than in the UK.

With the London market as it is, you couldn't arrive charging Paris price tags - the press and the population would revolt. As an opening price, £115 for a tasting menu already puts it above London's only 3 star (GR RHR is £110), and it can only go higher. I think we were entitled to expect his A game.

Take New York for example - when AD went there, his prices were the equivalent to the Dorchester menu. It earned 3 stars from michelin, and was by all accounts the real deal.

It sounds to me like the whole thing was badly thought out. Which is clear from the sacking of ex Spoon chef (Spoon! For goodness' sake) 2 weeks before opening.

And like everyone else on this thread (where does Zoticus get his ideas from?), I was really hoping it to be a success. At the moment, the overwhelming body of opinion suggests that it isn't. So why spend your money there when it could buy you dinner at any other restaurant in the country?

Whether it turns into one is down to Ducasse and his team. I truly hope they give it the attention it deserves.

but the like for like comparison is what is going on surely? the response is generally that it is not 3* standard, ergo what he serves at his other 3* in paris & monaco?

what i'm suggesting is the price may be higher abroad because the produce/standards is/are better (and yes, granted labour might be an issue too, but's hardly for free in the UK either we have the same labour laws too). i wonder if when it all nets out what the comparative margins are like, ie are they making more cash in paris/monaco or is it going on the produce, and th enet margins are the same, which goes someway to explaining the difference in expectations.

don't disagree that for the price it's london top end and we thought it was going to be the real deal, i'm just wondering why it isn't, and i think the basic fact is you can't have the real deal ducasse in london for £115, and from what the man himself says in the interview, he wasn't transferring paris/monaco to london. somehow we just convinced ourselves he was :laugh:

you don't win friends with salad

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On the one hand he says he cannot bring Monaco to London:

"In Monaco and Paris the average spend is between 350 and 400 euros per person. I could not transfer that to London. It would be too formal and too expensive."

On the other hand he gets offended at the suggestion of serving farmed fish:

"What do you think, mmm? That I came to London to do this? Believe me, I did not come to London to cook farmed fish."

I don't accept that you can't cook 3 star food for such a "cheap" price as a £115 tasting menu. Not Ducasse, not anyone. No 3 star restaurant in England has ever charged more than that. You price to your market. Which is what he did in New York, for the full experience.

A price tag like the Dorchester menu sends a message to any London punter that it's going to be the real deal. If that message wasn't intended by Ducasse, and/or if the goal was never 3 stars, then the Ducasse organisation simply misjudged the London market.

As for why the restaurants in Paris/France are more expensive, I don't know the answer. And I would like to understand. It simply cannot go purely on ingredients. Etxebarri uses pretty much the best ingredients anywhere. It's pricey, but nowehere near 300-400 Euros a head. And I can't believe the staff costs tell the whole story. Moreover, rent can't be dearer than London, surely?

I happen to think that Paris has long been known as the culinary capital of the world. And many people go on about how most of the "real" 3 star restaurants are in France. So that justifies the price tag. Haute cuisine in London struggles to make big bucks, so maybe in Paris they have a model that allows starred restaurants to make proper money?

Would be really interested in the explanation, if anyone has it?

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i wonder if when it all nets out what the comparative margins are like, ie are they making more cash in paris/monaco

I don't know about Paris but I have it on good authority that Monaco's not run to make a profit :wink:

exactly, and it's still 400e a pop so that's why london won't ever be like louis xv

you don't win friends with salad

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So what is it that explains the cost? The Spanish 3 stars don't go above 180 euros, some considerably less. The most expensive menu at the Fat Duck is £115, RHR £110. Tasting at the Waterside £92 (though admittedly you could top £120 a la carte).

So why can't Ducasse do it?

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I think the cost side is a red herring. This is from Steve Plotnicki on Opinionated About and hits the nail on the head for me (though you will have to forgive the NY references a little):

I don't know why people are surprised when they go to a Ducasse restaurant and find a soulless dining experience. After all, it's just a chain restaurant so why would you expect any different? That they impose very high standards, in a very rigid manner, doesn't negate the downsides of this type of dining experience. I have the same problem with Robuchon in NYC. It seems so stylized and packaged to me, eating there makes my skin crawl. Though I must say, many people I know like it very much.

The thing with Ducasse, if the chef at a particular location happens to be particularly talented, like Frank Cerruti at Louis XV or Piege when he was at the Plaza Athenee, then Ducasse gives them some leeway and you can expect a better experience. Maybe even a great one if they are feeling up to it. But otherwise it's food coming off of a haute cuisine production line. Think about it. Every day the head chef of this restaurant comes to work, and he plans a menu of the day. He then emails the menu to the home office for their approval where they make sure the food is on the straight and narrow. For me, that is valuable if the meal costs less than 50 pounds. But at 110 pounds I'd rather eat at Ssam Bar because the food has a sense of life to it.

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I think all of the critics so far are healthy for the restaurant itself. When is the Michelin review for UK? 3-6 months before the review is due, I'm quite sure the restaurant would improve simply because (I believe that) Ducasse cares whether this flag bearing his name should get at least 2-star even though so far 1-star seems to be generous (if it fails, probably similar to the case in NY - he would definitely replace the current chef de cuisine).

I ate at ADNY in the end of '05 and ADPA half year later - I thought both places are very good in terms food or the overall dining experience by 3-star standard. I see no reason why this place could not improve. But, yes the food tends to be classical and not exciting, it's not the kind of place when one would return over and over again because of the dynamic of the food.

Does anybody know if Ducasse Dorchester is supposed to be more high-end compared to the upcoming ADOUR at St. Regis NY?

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I think all of the critics so far are healthy for the restaurant itself. When is the Michelin review for UK? 3-6 months before the review is due, I'm quite sure the restaurant would improve simply because (I believe that) Ducasse cares whether this flag bearing his name should get at least 2-star even though so far 1-star seems to be generous (if it fails, probably similar to the case in NY - he would definitely replace the current chef de cuisine).

I ate at ADNY in the end of '05 and ADPA half year later - I thought both places are very good in terms food or the overall dining experience by 3-star standard. I see no reason why this place could not improve. But, yes the food tends to be classical and not exciting, it's not the kind of place when one would return over and over again because of the dynamic of the food.

Does anybody know if Ducasse Dorchester is supposed to be more high-end compared to the upcoming ADOUR at St. Regis NY?

We must remember that ADNY was eviscerated by the New York dining press when it opened. In fact, my first meal ( of 51 I had there by the time it closed last new years) was so terrible I didn't return for a year. We know how ADNY improved (including 3 stars from Michelin and 4 from the Times) and IMO was the best restaurant in the city when Tony Esnault ran the kitchen. It is unlikely, then, that Alain Ducasse will sit idle when his new restaurant in the Dorcester is similarly ravaged by london food critics.

Adour is planned as less formal than ADNY with an emphasis on wine and wine service. Adour will open, finally, the third week in January.

What makes food exciting? I do agree that Ducasse's food is classical and not "exciting": definitely not like that found at Pierre Gagnaire, WD-50, or Alinea. For me, ADNY and the Plaza Athenee are examples of restaurants where one can expect and receive perfect food, service, and atmosphere. That is exciting enough for me!!

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I don't know why people are surprised when they go to a Ducasse restaurant and find a soulless dining experience. After all, it's just a chain restaurant so why would you expect any different? That they impose very high standards, in a very rigid manner, doesn't negate the downsides of this type of dining experience. I have the same problem with Robuchon in NYC. It seems so stylized and packaged to me, eating there makes my skin crawl.

Being one restaurant within an organization does not make a Ducasse restaurant a 'chain' restaurant. In fact, it patently isn't a chain restaurant, if it were I think we'd be crying out for more rather than bandying the term about as being pejorative.

It seems far too neat to put all criticisms down to corporate soullessness. These places are run by talented professionals who, as Ducasse points out, are the same individuals who cook when Ducasse is in the kitchen. Any problems Ducasse is experiencing in London are likely to be of the same order as those that plague all the other London restaurateurs; namely staff and suppliers. Furthermore, the corporate criticism shows an alarming naiveté regarding what goes on in the kitchens of any renowned chef. If whoever wrote this imagines that all those well known chefs who do not head up a restaurant empire are either manning the pass, foraging for herbs or getting up impossibly early to persuade eccentric suppliers to part with their hand-reared crayfish, then he is woefully mistaken.

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