Thursday, June 2, 2011

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester - restaurant review

As an extra special birthday treat, Marc took me to Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester.

The restaurant itself is a bit like an expensive spa - lots of beige, thick carpets, comfy leather chairs and soft music. You actually feel relaxed from the moment you get there.

We went for the tasting menu, with matching wines, which was a fantastic experience.  As I don't eat meat, I mixed the veggie menu with the standard tasting menu.  The sommelier brings a different wine to your table before each course is served and talks you through why he's chosen it.

The beauty of this is that you get to try a lot of unusual wines you'd never normally pick.  When I tried them on their own, they sometimes tasted too tart, sweet, or oaky for my palette but once tasted with the food, magic happened: they transformed in your mouth to make the food more than it would've been on its own.

The complimentary canapes were gruyere and paprika gougères - little savoury choux buns.  I had to stop myself snaffling them all up - very moreish.

The lovely selection of bread was served with salted butter and fontainebleau cream cheese.  Again, I had to restrain myself, as I knew I had seven courses to get through.  This was not easy!

The amuse bouche was served in a porcelain egg - a nice touch. Warm crab mousse was topped with coral foam and served with a Sauvignon Saint Bris (2009).

The next course was asparagus veloute for me and foie gras for Marc.  One of the things that really stood out for me was the quality of the ingredients.  The asparagus tasted so fresh and so intensely asparagussy!  Marc is something of a foie gras connoisseur, so for him to say this was the best ever it had to be good.

The 'saute gourmand' of lobster (without the truffled chicken for me) was the star dish.  I could've licked the plate clean.

Sea scallops with peas and asparagus were perfectly cooked and the whole dish was a lovely balance of flavours.

Main course was lamb for Marc and a 'cookpot' of British vegetables for me.  The pastry was incredible, totally melted in the mouth.

The cheese course was really inventive - with four different cheeses, each served with a matching side, such as red pepper mousse or caramelised apples.

Before the pudding was served a selection of macaroons, caramels, nougat and chocolate covered almonds appeared on the table.  By this point we were pretty full and took ours away with us (I've been nibbling on mine all day!).

Pudding was my least favourite course, probably because I was so full.  The exotic fruits 'contemporary vacherin' was very fruity and very tart.

Admittedly this sort of luxury doesn't come cheap - so it's very much a special occasion restaurant. 

I felt thoroughly spoiled and will remember the meal for a long time to come.

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester on Urbanspoon

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