Often feted as the greatest chef alive, Alain Ducasse is synonymous with gastronomic excellence and so being housed at The Dorchester seems a fitting berth for a man with 19 Michelin stars between 27 restaurants across the globe.
The restaurant is a contemporary cathedral humming with attentive staff, where a crystal waterfall sits in the centre encasing the private dining room. A Champagne trolley was rolled to the table offering six different champagnes by the glass while we read the menu. Next came what looked like a pyramid of Ferrero Rocher, but turned out to be cheese choux puffs with paprika and black pepper. Squishy and cheesy to perfection, they did not last more than a minute and were quickly joined by deep fried spinach and ricotta ravioli which were crisp nutmeggy explosions that had us peering into the bowl to see if there were more.
Having made our choices from the menu, we were brought a pumpkin velouté in a china Easter egg – this earthy and sweet autumn classic was perfectly executed. The bread we were offered was also exceptional – it was impossible to choose, so I had bacon bread and soda bread, which was accompanied by a dark yellow onion shaped dome of salty butter and a lightly whipped cream cheese.
A starter of langoustines with spicy consommé revealed several perfectly cooked crustaceans in a fragrant broth of lemongrass and ginger – so light and clean yet packing so much delicious flavour.
I had set my sights on the slightly less ‘light’ sauté gourmand of lobster with truffled chicken quenelles and homemade pasta. This was a rich and fragrant medley of excellence where the lobster sauce outshone its friends on the plate and I had to borrow my guest’s soup spoon to retrieve all the sauce.
Our main courses of Limousin milk-fed veal loin with orange and yellow carrots and turbot matelote, potato gnocchi and country bacon continued this display of epic palate pleasers. The perfectly pink veal was declared amazing and the meaty turbot held up to an intense red wine sauce that was mopped up with the softest silky pillows of gnocchi and lardons of crispy bacon.
A ‘cheese intercourse’ was a great salty and sweet matching of goat’s cheese and red pepper puree, camembert and apple jelly and Roquefort and poached pear.
Having been given new napkins for pudding we knew they would be serious. Plates of chocolate and hazelnut biscuit and a chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream were meant to be only a mouthful to taste and yet we finished them both.
We enjoyed our stay at the restaurant and it appeared that they did not want us to leave. Petit Fours came and came – macaroons, nougat, passion fruit caramels, chocolate truffles…and the tea infusions were offered from a trolley of foliage that was wheeled around from table to table.
This was without doubt one of the finest meals eaten this year and one of the most relaxing and enjoyable. Classic French cooking, classic French service with very little pomp but all the attentiveness. I hope I can go again….soon.