Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester in Mayfair: “He treats his customers with the same reverence as his Michelin stars”
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester in Mayfair: “He treats his customers with the same respect as his Michelin stars” | Restaurant review
July 2, 2021
The legendary Monegasque chef Alain Ducasse has the highest number of Michelin stars to his credit, with a total of 14 worldwide. His restaurant The Dorchester is one of seven establishments in the UK to boast three stars in the Red Guide, a status he has maintained for more than ten years. Behind those impressive numbers and coveted accolades, however, lies something far more impressive: an executive chef who knows the difference between keeping a reputation and earning it every day. Jean-Philippe Blondet masters this distinction with a menu of constant quality while changing with the seasons.
Getting to the dining room itself is an exercise in restraint for lovers of luxury cuisine: you first have to walk past Tom Booton’s famous The Grill at the Dorchester, then stroll between the golden pillars of The Promenade, the hotel’s sumptuous carpet and melodious tinkling tea room. But the real sensory feast begins when you reach the space of the newly redesigned restaurant. The most impressive addition is undoubtedly the Table Lumière, which exclusively envelops the guests in a Avatar-esque luminescent fiber optic curtain. But while this feature is undoubtedly the focal point, we’re happy to be seated in another playfully designed space, inhabited by lush plants and a living wall that infuses organic energy into the room.
This nod to nature seems appropriate given that Blondet cares deeply about seasonal produce. However, the chef is proud to have nurtured this passion before it became a trend; for him, fresh products are not fashionable, but fundamental. That’s not to say that her kitchen isn’t remarkably stylish, either. Appetizers, which are served in lobster claws on a bed of shiny seaweed, he elegantly dresses the quality ingredients. Even the bread – the work of pastry chef Thibault Hauchard and Mikael Jonsson’s Boulangerie Hedone – has its own opening ceremony, sliced dramatically by the service, then left at the restaurant to brush with butter. This is the boldest element to adorn the table, as Blondet’s fine French cuisine brand bypasses classic heavy dishes, resulting in light dishes served with contemporary creativity.
We taste five options from the a la carte menu, starting with Dorset crab, celeriac and caviar. This first plate impressively encapsulates a fresh sea breeze, while the marinated sea bass that follows is a refined and summery bowl, balanced with earthy pistachios, sweet green peas and salty nori. The Riesling d’Alsace pairing is perfect: it is dry and mineral but aromatic, a perfect pairing with salted fish.
The real highlight, however, is the roasted turbot, which is deliciously cooked and full of flavor, complemented by an intensely smoked toad beet and the really awesome addition of coffee, which enriches the whole. It’s the culinary equivalent of this daring accessory that takes your entire outfit to the next level. This is paired cleverly, albeit in an unconventional way, with a slightly tannic Marsannay pinot noir, a velvety glass with a bewitching cherry aroma. Not all fish dishes can stand a red, but here sommelier Vincenzo Arnese (who previously worked at Dinner by Heston) takes an inspired risk.
The following pigeon is expertly cooked, rosy and soft, but without a drop of blood in sight. The tender eggplant and lemon balm contrast well with the punchy edible sardine bones: it’s a surf and turf with texture.
Our palate cleanser is a peach sorbet that stays in the south of France, a great pre-UK refreshment in the form of Raspberry, Shiso, Contemporary Vacherin: a spiral ball of tangy raspberry sorbet placed on a crispy meringue and fresh fruit. We end with a portion of petits fours, where we are happy to discover no bizarre experimentation, just the pure and pure happiness that is the alliance of a good pastry work and a fine chocolate, perfect for accompany a last dose of espresso.
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester is an upscale restaurant that treats its customers with the same respect as its Michelin stars. Service caters to both local and international guests, but although the hotel’s global clientele is currently limited for obvious reasons, tables are now filled with new diners from across the UK. No wonder, considering that if there’s one meal that can make up for a year of lost vacation in one evening, it’s probably this one. But the good news is that they also have a more accessible lunch menu with two glasses of wine for £ 70 – so maybe we don’t have to wait for a special excuse to be spoiled, after all.
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To reserve a table at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane London W1K 1QA, call 020 7629 8866 or visit their website here.