Four days, 10 Michelin stars – Part 1!
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester is the most recent UK restaurant to be initiated into the three star club. Under the direction of the iconic Ducasse, expectations were high.
The restaurant is situated slap bang in the middle of the Dorchester hotel, and with this comes some drawbacks. Accessing the restaurant involves trekking nearly the full length of the grand corridor – whilst being glared at by eagle eyed tourists and their minders. This arduous trip must be made every time nature calls – the toilets are adjacent to the front door.
The dining room is beautifully appointed, with tables very generously spaced. However, it is impossible to shake the ‘hotel effect’. Everything feels rather clinical (service included) and you can’t help but feel on edge.
(Apologies for the poor photos. Light was low and frowns ensued whenever the flash went off!)
Amuse-bouche consisted of pumpkin soup served in what resembled a giant easter egg. Ok, if a little uninspiring.
A ‘signature’ dish of lobster, truffle chicken quenelles and pasta was chosen to begin. The homemade pasta was delicious and cooked perfectly. However, the quenelles contained little flavour of truffle and were hopelessly bland. The accompanying bisque overpowered the delicate lobster and was a tad cloying. It must be noted, however, that this was the most tender and well-cooked lobster we had eaten for some time.
Another ‘signature’ starter of raw and cooked vegetables, olives and tomato syrup was distinctly unsatisfying. The vegetables, both raw and cooked, were bland – many tasting terribly acidic. There was barely a whiff of the dubbed tomato in the tomato syrup. The accompanying crisp (which resembled a spiced poppadum), although beautiful, had little taste and was not quite crisp enough. If only this dish had tasted as beautiful as it looked.
Tournedos Rossini is definitely in my top 10 dishes – when done perfectly. There was nothing terribly wrong with the version served at Alain Ducasse; however, it failed to truly impress. The beef was cooked well and was tender, but lacked flavour. The slab of accompanying foie gras was too large for the size of steak and thus overpowered – it was also slightly overcooked. Unfortunately the charred lettuce washed away what little flavour there was. Altogether quite an unsatisfying dish.
Scallops with citrus and swiss chard was nice. Scallops were cooked and seasoned well, although the portion was too small for a main dish. The citrus element was overpowering and acidic (and I love citrus). The swiss chard was well cooked and retained some crunch. Perhaps ‘nice’ is an adjective which should not feature in cooking of this level.
Rib and belly of Denbighshire pork with black pudding and calvados jus failed to impress. The belly was undercooked and the rib was overcooked, dry and lacked flavour. The homemade black pudding was overly fatty and salty and the calvados jus too heavy. Veal with girolles and fresh almonds was palatable if unexciting.
The cheese course was a pre-chosen selection of french cheeses with accompaniments. The cheese was fine – the same cannot be said for the accompaniments, which at best were bizarre.
Raspberry soufflé had risen spectacularly and was perfectly cooked with a strong hit of raspberry, a great success. Unfortunately, this was not the case for composition of apples – the granny smith sorbet tasting too acidic and the apple tart purely of sugar.
Rum baba was a delightful way to finish a meal, if a little heavy. A choice of rum was offered which then drowned the perfectly cooked and satisfyingly sweet baba.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester promised so much, yet failed to truly deliver. Front of house were unnervingly efficacious – you felt that they would have been chastised if they so much as cracked a smile. The food was at best uninspiring and appeared to lack effort and finesse – certainly not what is to be expected of a 3 star restaurant. You cannot even begin to compare the restaurant with other 3 star establishments (and many 2 star). For a true 3 star experience visit Royal Hospital Road or The Waterside Inn and give the overhyped hotel food a miss.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Food (For Five): £453
Dress Code: Smart