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ameiden

Ducasse to open at the Dorchester

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Because, of course, the online lot have already been there, done that and are dumping on Ducasse at the Dorchester from a great height. Who knows? They might be right. But I'm giving it time so that when I do go, I reckon I'll have a better idea of whether it's shaping up to be a new Louis XV, Ducasse's three-Michelin rave in Monte Carlo, because they've had time to iron out the gremlins. Or a new Spoon, his ill advised, novelty-act previous London outfit. Which I misguidedly loved. Possibly because I staggered in during the first week and got entirely the wrong impression.

All of us, the rat-up-a-drainpipe brigade (yep, me too), pontificate that if a restaurant is open to the paying public and is asking full prices – although some have no compunction about basing reviews on soft launches – well then, it's fair game. OK, so I heartily eat my words. If your only interest in a restaurant is getting in there first, you deserve everything you get.

It’s a fair point about waiting for a restaurant to bed in before reviewing it, but it’s not acceptable to expect the public to subsidise the multi-million pound learning curve of the big boys like Ducasse, and from an Irish perspective, Ramsay. That’s just a joke.

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this whole thread is bogus, full of hearsay, gossip and innuendo...

I have no idea whether this a good restaurant or not, and this thread has helped in no way at all.


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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this whole thread is bogus, full of hearsay, gossip and innuendo...

I have no idea whether this a good restaurant or not, and this thread has helped in no way at all.

Thank you for being sane.

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As Circeplum points out, the early weeks can be deceptively good as well as deceptively bad. I'm often among the rat-up-a-drainpipe brigade, firstly because I'm a cheapskate, and secondly because I'd like to imagine the person whose name is above the door may actually be in the kitchen. I don't much care whether my meal is a true reflection of form -- I'm having lunch, not writing a dissertation. And more often than not, first-week food seems decent value. (The service is always shambolic, but I'm in no hurry.)

Ducasse is a special case. There was no soft opening, meaning he was offering one of London's most expensive menus from day one, and there was never any pretence that he'd be manning the pass even for one service. That strikes of arrogance and cynicism, which is probably why there is so little goodwill left for this operation.

they've had time to iron out the gremlins.

Is that how you get rid of them? I thought it had something to do with sunlight and blowing up movie theatres.

(Allow that to mark the fatuous low-point of this thread.)


Edited by naebody (log)

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I really should have listened to some of your opinions… Eight of us went there for dinner recently, and left with a big disappointment. We ordered the 7-course tasting menu, but they brought us only 3 sets of first course (a salad) to share among eight of us.

This prawn course was the best of the evening. Other than that, the rest of the meal was pretty ordinary. Basically, it didn’t justify its price.

gallery_57364_5484_18563.jpg

More pictures here:

www.finediningexplorer.com/london/ducasse.php


Fine Dining Explorer

www.finediningexplorer.com

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I called up yesterday (Friday) at 5pm and was offered a table either at 6:30pm or 9:30pm. I took the 6:30pm offer, and then had to suffer that annoying table turning clichee "we need your table back by 8:45pm".

Once I'd found the restaurant after fighting through the hoards of afternoon tea eaters in the hotel lobby, I was immediately greeted by name and shown to my table.

I would normally go for the tasting menu at a first shot at most restaurants, but on this occasion I went a la carte choosing a chicken and sweetbread pithivier starter, scallop fish dish and steak main.

The raw veg cruditees arrived with an anchovy based dip and choux pastry cheese balls. These were OK and quite a nice light start, but not hugely exciting. Indeed, 'not hugely exciting' pretty much sums up the entire food experience for me.

In complete contrast the wine list is extremely extensive. But only if your budget is over £250 and preferably much higher. In fact I'd call it truly shocking, and a huge disappointment for anyone who would routinely choose wines at under £100 a bottle in a restaurant. I think that easily sums up 99% of us.

After discussion with the sommelier, I chose a 1998 Leroy Nuit St Georges aux Lavieres at £220 (£80 in the offy if you can find one that stocks it) to go with my starter and main, and a glass of Alsace Riesling to go with the scallops at his recommendation.

The chicken and sweetbread pithivier was tasty and well accomplished but that's about it.

Before the scallop course arrived, I had a chance to try the Riesling and the first thing to hit me was grapefruit. At this point I was wondering how on earth this was going to work with the food. Well I wasn't disappointed with the match, as the pan fried scallops were done in a very citrussy fruit sauce. While the match was good, the sharp bitterness and acidity of the food wasn't really my cup of tea.

The steak is a fillet with chips (constructed Jenga style) and a kebab of fresh salad leaves. The chips were superb, based on the consistency I would guess they were slow simmered first. The salad kebab was quite tasty having been lightly 'pickled'. The fillet was served with a very strong peppercorn sauce. Although good, I have had significantly better fillets from a number of less well appointed establishments. There was nowhere near enough sauce.

I tried the cheese, but I'm afraid I much prefer a cheeseboard. That way I can finish off my wine with the right cheese. It's always a dissapointment to be presented with a plate of cheese. On this occasion there was a light goats cheese, a chedder, some 3 year old Comte and some stilton, each with a matching fruit accompaniement. The only one that worked well for me was that with the cheddar which really was very good. The rest of it wasn't very inspriing.

For dessert I chose a coca thing (top one on the menu) paired with a sweet Condrieu. Although the food and wine match was good, the dessert itself was awful. Three different very tart citrussy items, including a marmalade, a sorbet/ice cream, and a caramel topped pastry. I gave up with it after a couple of tries of each item.

To finish off a small cleanser/amuse bouche of devon cream icecream with, yet again, a very tart chopped grapefruit dressing. At least it was better than the dessert proper.

Service was excellent, and in particular the sommelier knew what he was doing, as he should do with a list like that to maintain.

It's not clear why they were so picky about when I could arrive. Perhaps they keep tables back for the hotel guests. It was completely empty when I arrived and only half full when I left at 9pm.

Foodwise, generally very well accoumplished, but way too much citrus everywhere for my tastes. At times, such as in the case of the steak, not really up to scratch.

The total was £450 for one. Disappointment would be an underestimate. Shocking is more like it. Value for money? 2/10. Like the Library Room at sketch I can't see a return any time soon if ever. How other reviewers manage £250 for two is beyond me unless they don't drink anything except tap water. I'll leave it to the hotel's over-monied clientelle with money to burn.

Cheers, Howard


Edited by howardlong (log)

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Let's talk tax. How usual is it for a restaurant in the UK not to include VAT on their menu prices? I'm reasonably sure that 9 times out of ten (or more), I only ever pay service on top of the menu prices. Anyway, at Ducasse, you pay tax too. So, in real money, £75 for 3 courses is actually £88. That is pretty pricey...

FWIW, on my bill the menu items including VAT were as the menu prices, although VAT is separated out on the bill itself. Not that as a UK resident it's gonna help me.

Cheeky gits do leave the the tip space open on the credit card slip though.

I also managed to find a glass of NV Rose Champagne for £14 too. I would guess the 1999 Bolly they're poncing is the £25 stuff.

ducassesmall.jpg

Cheers, Howard


Edited by howardlong (log)

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Toptable are currently offering 3 courses "plus a sweet gift" for £35 Mon-Fri lunchtimes, until 24 Feb.

Haha didn't take them long to crash back down to earth, did it?

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Toptable are currently offering 3 courses "plus a sweet gift" for £35 Mon-Fri lunchtimes, until 24 Feb.

Isn't it £35 notes anyway for the set lunch?Tut Tut

Edit: Click on the Menu tab and then very oddly the Appetizers section and the prices pop up!


Edited by Bapi (log)

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Does it strike anyone else that in designing this menu Ducasse seems to be doing in London essentially what he did in New York - which is to say, play it rather safe and not venture any further out than the sausage-roll-and-pithivier brigade in London do themselves? Well, I think he takes it slightly further here than NY, but not significantly.

Check out the menus in Paris and Monaco. Both, by contrast, vibrant and exciting. In London we get steak and chips, Venison with one old fashioned sauce and chicken with another (has anyone had the pigeon? I wonder if he's doing the 'tasty offal sauce' from Monaco).


Edited by MobyP (log)

"Gimme a pig's foot, and a bottle of beer..." Bessie Smith

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Just got an email with an 'exclusive offer' for AD. It says 'lunch from £35, dinner from £75'

Looking at the website though this looks to be normal prices, particularly the 'from' bit ie the menu prices start at this point and go up

This 'offer' supposedly expires on 30 April but am not sure what is so exclusive about it. Am I being thick? Do they think we are all stupid?

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i think on top table they were advertising a lunch deal which looked suspicously like as you say the set lunch menu, plus a 'sweet gift' or something. Didn't strike as a bargain must go before offer expires type situation.

eta yes, i do think they think we are stupid.


Edited by Gary Marshall (log)

you don't win friends with salad

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Just got an email with an 'exclusive offer' for AD.  It says 'lunch from £35, dinner from £75'

Looking at the website though this looks to be normal prices, particularly the 'from' bit ie the menu prices start at this point and go up

This 'offer' supposedly expires on 30 April but am not sure what is so exclusive about it.  Am I being thick?  Do they think we are all stupid?

Actually it sounds pretty much in keeping with their attitude so far. I think they're going for the "stupid and rich" demographic.

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Just got an email with an 'exclusive offer' for AD.  It says 'lunch from £35, dinner from £75'

Looking at the website though this looks to be normal prices, particularly the 'from' bit ie the menu prices start at this point and go up

This 'offer' supposedly expires on 30 April but am not sure what is so exclusive about it.  Am I being thick?  Do they think we are all stupid?

No, this is not the offer. These are the normal prices. I got the same E-mail. This "exclusive" offer only consists of the following:

"Experience lunch or dinner at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester: as a special treat, a complimentary glass of Champagne will be waiting for you on arrival".

Gosh, that will hurt their margins. I am not sure I will take them up on it though if the glass is already waiting there on my arrival ... who knows for how long ... :laugh:

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i saw their set lunch menu on their website about a week or two ago...


"Experience is something you gain just after you needed it" ....A Wise man

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Just got an email with an 'exclusive offer' for AD.  It says 'lunch from £35, dinner from £75'

Looking at the website though this looks to be normal prices, particularly the 'from' bit ie the menu prices start at this point and go up

This 'offer' supposedly expires on 30 April but am not sure what is so exclusive about it.  Am I being thick?  Do they think we are all stupid?

No, this is not the offer. These are the normal prices. I got the same E-mail. This "exclusive" offer only consists of the following:

"Experience lunch or dinner at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester: as a special treat, a complimentary glass of Champagne will be waiting for you on arrival".

Gosh, that will hurt their margins. I am not sure I will take them up on it though if the glass is already waiting there on my arrival ... who knows for how long ... :laugh:

Right you are - the 'offer' is the free champagne - and it was right there in big bold letters at the top of the mail. So I guess they are right I am stupid!

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Im being invited to go to D for dinner. What's the current opinion now that the critics have stabbed and moved on, is it any good now?

S

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I have heard from sources i consider to be very reliable, that it is good. very good infact.

However I went for lunch recently, and the lunch itself was mediocre though the room is spectacular. the wine list was as if they weren't even trying.

3 wines by the glass, presented as part of the bar menu. and a full list that could not have been more ho hum. a child with a blindfold, a pen and a broking list could've done it. there was nothing interesting or speaking of care.


A meal without wine is... well, erm, what is that like?

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I have heard from sources i consider to be very reliable, that it is good.  very good infact.

However I went for lunch recently, and the lunch itself was mediocre though the room is spectacular.  the wine list was as if they weren't even trying.

3 wines by the glass, presented as part of the bar menu. and a full list that could not have been more ho hum.  a child with a blindfold, a pen and a broking list could've done it.  there was nothing interesting or speaking of care.

thanks but i dont think im any the wiser!

i am going to be going anyway, so I suppose its suck it and see

S

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I have heard from sources i consider to be very reliable, that it is good.  very good infact.

However I went for lunch recently, and the lunch itself was mediocre though the room is spectacular.  the wine list was as if they weren't even trying.

3 wines by the glass, presented as part of the bar menu. and a full list that could not have been more ho hum.  a child with a blindfold, a pen and a broking list could've done it.  there was nothing interesting or speaking of care.

If one is honest, Ducasse's wine list at Louis XV is no different from a broking list either. You get everything that is famous and expensive, but there are no "finds" on it that could surprise and excite the connaisseur. Just compare the Dorchester list to the Gavroche list a few yards down the road, and you know where I am coming from.

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I had an extremely mediocre lunch there a month ago.

I'm no wine buff, but the sommelier did seem good - he wanted us to try a biodynamic wine that was said to be fairly unique. When we asked the price, he said £17, so we declined. He really wanted us to try it, so he gave it to us for £10 a glass. I was pretty impressed.

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I think it was an interview where he said the dorch was one of the gaffs that were pret-a-porter not the haute-couture of his three stars that did it in for me. Sorry but if he thinks he's going to fob the rosbifs off with his second suit for a hundred squids a head then he's taking the piss... (yes I know its more expensive in Paris, but we don't have a 35 hour working week...).

Actually doing a bit of googling reveals some interesting PR spin. Quoth the bestarred one to the Caterer:

he says, with his trademark use of a fashion-inspired smile: Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester will be "haute couture and not prêt à porter".

But quoth the bestarred one to the French press...

N.O.-Et à Londres, à New York : prêt-à-porter de luxe ou haute couture ?

A. Ducasse. - Prêt-à-porter de luxe.

Hmmm. Either he's been misquoted or he's being two-faced...

J


Edited by Jon Tseng (log)

More Cookbooks than Sense - my new Cookbook blog!

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For £2,000-3,000 you can either get a relatively nice RTW suit, or you can get an infinitely superior suit crafted to your personality, in 8 weeks, mostly by hand, on Savile Row.

One of the two markets is very lucrative.

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I first tried ADAD last December and was disappointed.

Lately, however, I have had a few people tell me it is much better now and actually quite something.

I had to agree that it has improved a lot. The starters were alright, mains better and desserts excellent.

Also, the white chocolate ganache macarons were the best I have had in London.

My dinner at Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester

Service was efficient, hospitable and rather good.

The restaurant is pricey, but generous too - two amuses, chocolates, bonbons, etc

It's not fireworks, but worth a star.


Food Snob

foodsnob@hotmail.co.uk

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