Alain Ducasse (the legendary French chef who also owns Rivea and The Grill at The Dorchester), has held three Michelin stars at his eponymous restaurant inside Park Lane’s Dorchester hotel for over eight years.
Technically I should be boycotting the hotel, seeing as the owner, the Sultan of Brunei, hates us gays, but I really wanted to give it a try. The room is large and understatedly beautiful; a mini, circular private dining room surrounded by shimmering beads in the centre of the room certainly makes for a centre piece.
The lunch hour menu, priced at £60 for three courses, two glasses of wine, water and coffee seemed best value. To start, some light and fluffy gougeres and a generous selection of bread was a winning start. It was however unfortunate we found a rogue hair in the bread!
The starters weren’t quite as thrilling. Frog’s legs with a lily pad ‘our way’ was just a bowl-full of a very overpowering, green sauce which wasn’t too dissimilar to what I make in my Nutribullet every morning. The soft boiled egg, aubergine and pine nuts was perfectly fine. The cookpot of snails, soft and bouncy, came in a dish splattered with sauce. Now I hate to sound like a pernickety old man, but for a three star restaurant that’s the last thing you’d expect to see.
The mains were far more impressive. Chicken breast studded with black olives was simple but just the sort of thing you enjoy eating; the same being said for the chunky fillet of cod with broad beans and St Georges mushrooms. Venere rice with a shellfish ‘à la marinière’ had a generous amount of perfectly cooked shellfish which gave it all a real flavour of the sea.
We were then brought our petit four before the pudding which was a bit weird. The mini macaroons were a real highlight but I would have rather had them at the very end as I know no restraint from sweet things!
We shared all three desserts; apple and vanilla ‘composition’, dark chocolate bar and contemporary vacherin. They were all very tasty but not particularly noteworthy. The real star was a baba au rhum, which was a gift from the kitchen to make up for the hairy faux pas. It was served in a beautiful metal dish and we got to choose from six rums to douse it in; proper lovely stuff.
A special mention has to go to the herbal teas, where a trolley filled with plants is wheeled table side and they snip your chosen blend fresh – definitely worth doing.
The whole Alain Ducasse experience is undoubtedly a very special one, I just think there’s room to make it even more special. The little things, like hearing one of the chef’s uncontrollable screams permeating through the dining room (which is never pretty), or splatters up the snail dish, are things you don’t really expect from a restaurant of that level.