A 3rd wedding anniversary might only be the “leather” anniversary but for Elldrew it was the opportunity to join friends and splash out at one of London’s swankiest and most highly acclaimed restaurants – the 3 Michelin starred Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester. We were just in time to enjoy head chef Jocelyn Herland’s new 2014 Spring menu and had the choice of going a la carte or opting for the 7 course tasting menu. Whilst we enjoy eating out regularly it is an exceptionally rare treat for us to enjoy somewhere with 3 Michelin stars, and whilst not being big lovers of seafood, we decided to be brave and indulge in the mostly seafood tasting menu, we were happy to have our taste buds awakened.
It always helps when the table participates in a tasting menu, as everyone can provide their feedback on the same dish during each course, so here’s Elldrew’s review of each of those courses (and a little bit of extra feedback from our friends on those pesky seafood dishes):
Amuse Bouche: HIT
Whilst we were making our menu decisions the exceptional staff set our table with a pyramid of Cheese Gougères, an assortment of bread and, not one, but two types of butter. The Gougères were light, delicate and moorish. We tried to avoid gorging on these (it was difficult) but instead we focussed on the champagne aperitif which was equally moorish.
Dorset Crab, delicate ‘Gelée’, Caviar: MISS (in Elldrews opinion)
The first course was a minced and gelatinous Crab dish served in an oyster shell, decorated with Caviar. A non-seafood lovers worst nightmare as Drew remarked that it resembled cat food, and Ell commented that it smelt a bit like cat food. We couldn’t get past the first mouthful but our friends can confirm that it was a lovely seafood dish (even if we slightly put them off with the cat food comment). We nibbled on some more Gougères to cleanse the palate.
‘Sauté Gourmand’ of Lobster and Truffled Chicken Quenelles: MISS (in Elldrews opinion)
We’ve never understood the fuss about Lobster, it looked great on the plate but again for us, it didn’t hit the mark. We think you either love it or hate it, there’s no real middle ground. After sharing the flesh around the table Elldrew were happy to finish the bisque, which was rather delicious.
Cook-pot of Green Asparagus and Morels, Comté Grande Garde cru 2011: HIT
Raw and Cooked Vegetables with Taggiasca Olives with a Tomato Syrup: HIT
Next was one of Ducasse’s famous Cook-pots, but as Drew has an aversion to mushrooms the restaurant swapped his Cook-pot for one of their signature dishes (the selection of Raw and Cooked Vegetables). The Cookpot was divine; sealed with light, golden and flaky pastry. The Asparagus and Morels inside were perfectly seasoned, tender and full of fresh, spring flavour. The Raw and Cooked Vegetables that Drew had was however the winner of this course. Who would have thought that something as simple as a salad could not only look so stunning but taste so decadent. Accompanied by a vegetable crisp bread, there was a lot of oooo’s for this dish.
Wild Sea Bass, Citrus and Swiss Chards: HIT
The surprise of the night was the Sea Bass. We absolutely loved this dish. It was so light and delicate and the tiny candied citrus were simply amazing and worked impeccably with the light, flaky fish. For someone who doesn’t love seafood then this is the dish to serve to win them over. High praise indeed, and dare we say it, one of the best dishes of the evening!
Burgaud Duck “Rouennaise”, Heritage Beetroot: MISS (the table)
The Duck should have been the star of the night for us, as it was essentially the only meat course; and we are big meat eaters. Under seasoned and slightly tough, even though it was cooked pink, we couldn’t be entirely sure where it went wrong but it was just fine, not amazing, which was a shame.
Assortment of Four French Cheeses, Country Bread and Condiments: HIT
It’s just possible that this was the best course of the evening (could be the alcohol talking). Four Cheeses, each with their own perfectly accompanied flavoured chutney/relish. We worked our way from left to right and then back again. Wow; they were great. We absolutely loved this.
Exotic Fruit Vacherin: MISS (the table)
Baba with Rum (according to your choice), Lightly Whipped Cream: HIT
Alas Ell has a Kiwi allergy so when faced with an ‘exotic fruit’ dessert the first question he asks is “what type of exotic fruit?”. As per 99% of the time Kiwi is present so thankfully the staff were again happily to accommodate so that Ell could taste test Alain Ducasse’s legendary Rum Baba. It was a delicious light air sponge, if not rather alcoholic (which was not particularly necessary given that we hadn’t skimped on wine during the other 6 courses). The Vacherin was a nice mix of fruits but overpowered by a citrus juice that dominated the palate – so much so that we didn’t even manage to take a photo of this dish.
Dessert was followed by a small Gateaux with a candle to toast our anniversary and a selection of Petit Fours and Macarons. After 7 courses we could barely walk, but in their Michelin star elegant way this wasn’t a problem, so we all left carrying Ducasse doggy bags. The sweet treats that were to be enjoyed the following day were delicious.
So what was our overall verdict? Well, it was a fabulous and memorable experience but, at its heart, you go to a 3 Michelin star restaurant for the food and not every course was a “hit”, so we wondered if the restaurant maybe missed the mark in certain places? That said, where the food missed it certainly compensated with impeccable service; the staff were delightful and every detail was thought through. We felt like VIP’s at an ambassadors ball; but a ball that was a little on the lively side (in a good way) and where no one judged or raised an eyebrow as the volume of the room increased with each bottle of wine. Overall we would recommend it (and indeed we have done so already) but it is one of those once in a lifetime type of places and it wasn’t good enough for us to think of spending the money again by going back…after all, there are so many other restaurants Elldrew need to sample!
Oh, we can’t leave without mentioning the ‘Table Lumière’, a private room surrounded by 4,500 shimmering fiber optics which drop dramatically from the ceiling. Positioned in the restaurant, it provides an exclusive seating area that in some way still manages to feel part of the dining room. The fiber optics are a fantastic backdrop for a few memorable pictures (we recommend taking them at the start of the evening, before the alcohol has taken hold – too much has been said already).Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
London W1K 1QA T: +44 (0)20 7629 8866