Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester (London)

Location: London, England
Address: 53 Park Lane (in the Dorchester Hotel)
Type of Meal: Lunch

Alain Ducasse embodies luxury with beautifully set tables (complete with a private one behind a curtain of gemstones), attentive service (someone greets you in the lobby and guides you to the washrooms to ensure you find them) and the mountain of warm gougères brought out as soon as you sit down.  After all, you wouldn’t want your guests going hungry between ordering and getting bread!  We couldn’t stop ourselves from gorging on these delicious light-as-air cheese puffs while browsing through the menu and admiring the beautiful place settings.

A special lunch menu (£55) is offered Tuesday to Friday that includes three courses, two glasses of wine (chosen from 2012 Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Blanc, 2010 Laurent Tribut Chablis, 2007 Domaine Montirius Vacqueyras Les Closes or 2008 Château Bernadotte Haut- Médoc), ½ bottle of mineral water and coffee or tea.
Aside from the gougères, you’re offered a selection from a brimming bread basket including mini baguettes, olive bread, bacon brioche, twists and many others I can’t remember.  The trend of excess continues on – would you like salted butter, unsalted butter or cream cheese blended with whipped cream for your bread?
Afterwards, a metallic egg shaped dish arrives filled with a cold tomato gelee topped with a chive and sour cream sorbet and bits of shallots (?).  It was simple yet refreshing and invigorated the taste buds from the previous carbs. 

My starter was on the heavier side with the deconstructed croque-madame. Slices of toasted brioche topped with finely diced ham and aged cheese were the perfect size to dip into the warm, creamy, cheesy, runny scrambled egg mixture served in cute eggshells.  The dish was a cheese extravaganza; even the small dish of salad had a generous serving of it! Alain Ducasse certainly took this comfort food classic and added a touch of elegance and flair to it.    

My husband loved his chestnut velouté with snails, which is essentially a thicker soup. It was the sweet and salty combination that I’m not a fan of.  Even so, I had a taste and the creamy chowder consistency chestnut soup along with plump snails was decent.   

His main of beef made and served in a cookpot, a signature cooking method of Mr. Ducasse, was absolutely delicious with the delicate slices of tender beef layered with various root vegetables.  Having been braised slowly, all the juices condensed down to a flavourful sauce that was absolutely wonderful.  I wouldn’t have expected a “fancy” restaurant to serve such a hearty dish (and such a large portion as well).

For my main, I could not pass up the lobster and crab squid ink cannelloni; anything that has lobster in it immediately gets my attention!  The pasta was a thin tube containing tons of the lobster and crab mixture within.  The filling was smooth but still held up its shape and had noticeable bits of the lobster strewn throughout.  Overall, although not the most memorable dish, was still delectable.  Honestly, it’s really hard for it to stand out compared to all the strongly flavoured dishes previously served. But, sometimes your taste buds need a bit of a break and enjoy the naturalness of the seafood essence.

By now I’m absolutely stuffed and thankful that there’s only one more dish to go.  Thinking the contemporary vacherin may be the lightest option, I go with it.  Scoops of strawberry and champagne sorbet appear in a vibrant green bowl with medallions of meringues, thinly sliced dried strawberries and raspberry puree.  The dessert was a well-balanced dessert of sweetness & tartness and smoothness & crunch.

Despite not being able to finish my own dessert, I had to try a spoon of my husband’s passion fruit rice pudding.  It was an interesting combination of the traditional rich and creamy pudding with the tartness of the fruit. After the copious amount of food ingested earlier, I found the rice to be a bit heavy. 

To finish off the meal, I ordered a green tea in hopes of aiding in digestion.  But then, with our tea & coffee arrived a bowl of macarons, a dish of cocoa powder covered almonds, candies of caramels & nougats and a platter of chocolates!  Most restaurants offer a selection of petit fours, but Alain Ducasse’s offering brought it to a whole new level.  I had a small bite of the macarons (delicate and moist but a bit sweet), an almond (a good contrast of bitterness) and nougat (so soft and delicious).  There was no way I could taste them all (sorry chocolates and caramels), but was wonderful that so many choices were offered.

The lunch hour menu at Alain Ducasse is the embodiment of extravagance and overindulgence and perfect for a special occasion.  Indeed, their location is ideal with the beautiful Hyde Park beside it and set in a luxury hotel; after all, right after this meal all you want to do is have a lazy stroll and then take a nap.  

Overall mark - 8 out of 10

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Gastro World's Grading System

  • Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
  • 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
  • 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
  • 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
  • 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
  • 10 - absolute perfection!