Remember it is a combination of the planet’s most famous chef (Alain Ducasse has 25 restaurants worldwide and counting) operating a three-Michelin-starred restaurant in a five-star hotel on the most expensive square on the Monopoly board. What's more, this year they're celebrating their 10th anniversary.
50 shades of coffee and creme define the sophisticated interior with its serene views over Hyde Park. Tables are so luxuriously spaced, we can indulge in the fantasy of having a private staff in our own sumptuous dining room. Guests are a mix of young lovers, groups of girlfriends dressed up for a significant treat and more mature couples celebrating significant markers, perhaps even a little business. It is lively not hushed, yet exceptionally intimate.
Despite the jet-set glamour, it feels incredibly personal – even more so in the semi-private Table Lumière, which is encased in a shimmy of fibre-optics and where diners can choose their own bespoke table settings of Puiforcat silverware, Saint-Louis crystal and Hermès china.
Even before the menu arrives, exquisitely laid tables raise expectations to dizzying heights. This is sotto voce luxury. Each table has a different white porcelain vegetable centrepiece . Almost every detail is bespoke from the silver knife rests to the pale pink hued water glasses allegedly fired with gold to give the requisite hue according to Ducasse dictates.
It seems a shame to reveal all the little treats that arrive as we lose ourselves in the menu. Suffice to say they include ethereal warm emmental gougeres, puffy choux balls of sheer hedonistic pleasure. The breadbasket signals the extravagance of treats to come – there's a choice of five. We savour miniature baguette twists, pork fat infused ‘Irish’ rolls and lardo di collocate fougasse. All are served with handmade butter and a little pot of whipped butter and cream, a traditional accompaniment still found in the grandest hotels on the Riviera.
For the best possible measure of chef Jean-Philippe Blondel’s creativity, order a la carte. This is elegant modern French cooking is scattered with as many nuggets of luxury as an upturned jewellery box. Every dish thrills, even the more unassuming, delicately bosky wild mushroom consommé with black garlic ravioli and tiny toasts of cepes. The halibut is braised in pork juices with oysters (oyster leaves that really taste of the sea) and seaweed, exemplifying the intricate weaving of texture and umami flavour that merits 3 Michelin stars. We loved too the bold pairing of Anjou pigeon with smoky baby aubergine filled with sardine.
Everyone should taste the deservedly legendary, glossy rum baba once and admire the spectacular ceremony with which it is served; the bespoke silver casket, the choice of rums to pour on top and that silky Chantilly cream…
Throw caution to the wind and leave wine pairings in the hand of the incredibly charming and unstuffy sommelier who has a phenomenal range of exceptional fine and rare grand cru vintages by the glass. Our revelation was a bone dry sherry Bodegas Tradición Palo Cortado, 30 Years, that was an incredible match to 36 month old Comte cheese.
For a more classic taste of Ducasse, the 10th anniversary menu served until the end of the year is an unashamedly decadent, seven course treat. Think hand-dived scallops with glistening caviar and ribbons of mooli accented with citrus, lobster with couture rate potato and wild mushroom, Bresse chicken with a traditional Albufera (foie gras AND truffle) sauce, and an ultra delicate chestnut confection.
The ‘gourmandise’ at the end of the meal are exceptional, including chocolates from Ducasse’s Parisian atelier and macarons. Tisanes are served from a trolley of fresh herbs clipped with silver scissors.
The only caveat: lighting is very subdued. It clearly dates back to a pre-instagram era, making it tricky to properly capture the beauty of the dishes. But in any case, we think it is best to leave the smart phone alone and simply enjoy the rarefied moment of dining in a higher orbit.
Price: a la carte costs £100 for three courses. £140 for seven-course tasting menu.
The seven-course 10th anniversary menu available until 23 December costs £280
|What||Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester London review|
|Where||The Dorchester, 53 Park Lane, London , W1K 1QA | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Hyde Park Corner (underground)|
01 Nov 17 – 23 Nov 18, Lunch: Tuesday to Friday: 12.00pm – 1.30pm. Dinner: Tuesday to Saturday: 6.30pm – 9.30pm
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|