Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester

Well. Here goes, this is going to be hard. Writing reviews is easy. You just scribble down loads of overly biased views, chuck in a handfull of superlatives and the odd simile and your done. It's pretty much decided before you even eat the food whether you like the place or not. The kudos of a restuarant gets you all hot and the excitement of eating somewhere that's on your 'list' for the first time makes you feel like a schoolboy with a new pair of Nike Air Max. Well that's what's going to make this hard. I turned up to find that Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester,was wearing my dads brown sandals.

 It started so so well. The hotel itself is very nice. Tastefully old but not stuffy. Extremely over the top opulence works well in the long lobby. Tonnes of flowers and the odd baby grand are dotted around the busy bit. Rich fabrics and fancy chandeliers aplenty,it works, you know youre at the Dorchester. 8/10The bar was our next stop. What a place. Tall red glass spikes line the walls and red carpets the floor. Extra Dark super moody lighting and tinted windows make the bar feel like hell. In a good way. Cocktail menu is extensive and the wine list is well priced. It's better than the Coburg. 10/10

Then we went. It should have been like narnia. Stepping through the old dusty wardrobe and into a hidden world full of wonders. But coming as we did from the bar, this felt distinctly reversed. The room is boring. There, I've said it. Brown and dull. However my wine fuddled brain didn't even notice and we were shown to our table. Amuse bouch came. Lobster mousse with lobster served in a spikey half urchin shell. Sublime. 9/10. A great start. The staff are typically 3 star. They actually have opinions and views and are in the most part quite interesting. 9/10. Our sommelier was first class the wine list however is overpriced. Very overpriced. 5/10. Before starters came the truffle, Paraded around in a cute little box. "would sir like a sniff?". Yup! But that's it for free. You can pay more and they'll grate a little over any dish you like. Happy days.

 First course was 'saute gourmand of lobster with truffled chicken quenelles and pasta.  Oh, And lots of grated truffle. Which was a mistake. The lobster was perfect as was the rest. The only problem was the truffle. It was far far too much. I know it was my choice but it was their fault. The fresh truffle overtook the whole dish and all was lost to fungus. 5/10

The piscean part of the meal was 'Seared Sea Scallops,parsnips Jerusalem artichokes and salsify'. Wonderful scallops cooked wonderfully can't be beaten, and these were perfect examples. They pulled apart into stringy bits and were yummy. The rest of the plate was a bit like the room. Brown. You can't turn a telly on now without finding some halfwit showing you how to cook scallops with pea purée and there's good reason for that. It works well. My fish course didn't work and wasnt balanced. More acidity needed please. And more contrast. 6/10.

 Mains were the bit I'd been looking forward too. 'Fillet of beef Rossini,crunchy cos lettuce and sacristan potatoes' the beef was good. Well cooked if a bit under seasoned but the star was the fois. Sat atop a slice of well fried bread was a lovely lump of the bad stuff. Seared well it was top notch. The surprise for me though was the lettuce. Pan fried for a couple of seconds to spice it up it provided a good irony tie for the beef and liver. sacristian potatoes were absolutely amazing and utterly impossible to make and TBH, I don't even think they really existed. 9/10.

So onto puds. There's only one pudding I've looked forward to eating for years and this was it. Alain ducase's world famous 'Rum BABA like in monte-Carlo'. We were offered a choice of 6 premium rums and picked(unknowingly) a smokey dark one from somewhere hot(I think). 10 minutes later a solid silver pot arrived and the cute spherical lid was removed. The baba was then cut splayed and filled with cream. Then baptised with the drink. It was good. But only good. The baba itself was perfect but the cream could have been sweeter especially when served with such a strong rum. 7/10

Overall then. It was good. But the room was the first problem. Coming from the outlandish hotel and bar I felt let down by the paired down style. Grey and brown are all good but it felt out of place in this mad old hotel. 6/10. The food was another problem. Although there were no actual faults with the cooking it just wasn't good enough at this level. Offering you the option of smothering your plate in truffle defiantly increases your profit margins but allowing you to overpower a dish that was desighned without it, is inexcusable.

Someone once said "I didn't say you couldn't, I said you shouldn't" and I wish I hadn't.
Overall score 7/10.
I have read that Alain sometimes asks bad reviewres to pop in for a chat.
He then tells them that they don't know what there talking about.
If he asks me I'll turn up in my Nikes holding a menu from The waterside.

Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester on Urbanspoon

Square Meal


  1. Thank you for this interesting review, disappointing to hear though. It sounds like we should go back to the Waterside rather than try here. Similar prices?

    1. I would never recommend someone avoid a restuarant on the basis that I didn't like it. But I'll never go again. As an aside. I would always recommend another visit to The Waterside.