“Not up to 3-star standards!”; “everything that’s wrong with the Michelin system” is encapsulated by the top marks awarded to this “formal” Mayfair outpost of the famed Gallic chef; some “sublime” meals are recorded, but far too many reporters just find the place “arrogant” or “overhyped”, or simply “seriously disappointing”.
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Other early reviews of this Mayfair chamber have been so mixed that we approached this latest outpost of Alain Ducasse’s global empire with some apprehension. As it turned out, needlessly, as the...
Press Reviews (12)
Matthew Norman (8th February 2010)
“Exactly how Ducasse's gaff became Britain’s fourth triple-[Michelin]-starred restaurant I'm unsure, but on the evidence of dinner – good and sporadically brilliant though it was – you suspect the name had a little to do with it”, says the critic. This is a “handsome” room”, he notes, and the service – in a good way “fabulously attentive”. The splendour of the food, however, “lay mostly with the aesthetics”. The dishes – though “genuinely beautiful to the eye” – are are “less memorable to the tastebud than that triple-star rating might suggest”. Indeed, both main courses were “a touch forgettable”. Whether such an experience is really even, as the critic suggests, at the two-star level must surely be open to doubt?
Michael Winner (17th March 2008)
Our hero finds Monsieur Ducasse’s new outfit a “very pleasant” room. Not the cooking though, and he finds the £1m allegedly invested in the new kitchen an almost total waste of money.
AA Gill (14th January 2008)
Over at the Sunday Times, AA Gill’s fulminations about the über-chef’s Mayfair outlet makes his Murdoch stablemate’s views look like a ‘rave’. It’s not really clear quite what was so wrong with the place, though. The interior is decorated in “the sort of good taste that only money can buy”. Well, there’s a surprise. And lunch took an “unconscionable” two hours – perhaps Mr Gill was unaware that Ducasse is a great French chef? And the food? “Effortful French bijou objects… made of ingredients whose foremost quality is their expense and rarity”. So…?
Giles Coren (14th January 2008)
Ducasses’s new London outlet is housed in a room which is “fussy without being interesting”, says the Times’s man, and eating here “doesn’t feel like much of an occasion”. He likes the service (“supremely competent, occasionally charming”), but the food is rather up and down. (It’s perhaps a shame he didn’t have the puddings though – “all sugary things taste the same” seems rather a weak excuse for not having sampled the bit of the menu that it is often suggested Ducasse does best.) His overall conclusion is that “if this place is a roaring success… with this little oomph, this little originality or sense of adventure, then it will rather suggest that London is losing its soul”.
Jay Rayner (7th January 2008)
The Observer’s man really hates Duccasse’s Mayfair opening, which, he says, is “enough to make even the happiest of souls run screaming for the Prozac”.
Marina O'Loughlin (12th December 2007)
Ms O’Loughlin does not rush to judge nowadays. Having left Ducasse’s new restaurant a few weeks to settle in she come to the same good-but-pricey conclusion as those who vulgarly rushed in.
Terry Durack (4th December 2007)
“This is not Monsieur Ducasse's best restaurant” concludes the critic – that one’s in Monte Carlo, apparently – but his new dining room at the Dorchester is “still a marvellous manifestation of the French meaning of the term savoir-faire”. (This, we are told, means “to have the knowledge of what to do” – gosh, who’d have thought it?)
Guy Dimond (29th November 2007)
The dishes at the über-chef’s new Mayfair dining room strike the critic as rather “tame”, with “expensive ingredients used, not always to best effect”. It was a shame that his guest thought the offered champagne was complimentary – bless – and ever more unfortunate that it turned out to cost £24: this experience seems to have added force to his view that meals here cost “around 50% more than… in other London restaurants of similar calibre”.
Charles Campion (29th November 2007)
In what is, for our money, arguably the most perspicacious of the Ducasse reviews to date, Charles Campion sums up pretty much our own (favourable) views on the celeb-chef’s London outpost. More eloquently expressed, though, of course.
Mark Palmer (26th November 2007)
“This is a restaurant for dedicated followers of food fashion and people with deep pockets or on generous expenses”, concludes the critic. He may have had to wait 20 minutes for a menu, and the early-day atmosphere is “tense”, but “the food here lives up to its billing and should not be missed”.
Andy Haler (15th November 2007)
This was the opening week, but expectations were high. Alain Ducasse had promised in interviews that this would be "haute couture, and not prêt a porter" cuisine, and had brought in the deputy chef from 3 star Michelin Plaza Athenee, Jocelyn Herland, to head things up. The room is surprisingly understated, except for a circular curtain of fibre-optic lights enclosing a private table for six to one side of the dining room (available for a mere £1,350 a time), designed by Patrick Jouin, who used to work with uber restaurant designer Philippe Starck. Tables are well spaced and the general theme is of muted creams and beige. So we sat down with high hopes.
Jan Moir (15th November 2007)
The water at restaurant Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester is £6 a bottle. The bread isn’t warm, and is a little bit stale. Some of the tables are terrible, including one that’s like dining inside a wooden cupboard and another behind a waiter station with a panorama of staff bottoms as they collate dirty glasses before whisking them away. They insist the fish is wild, but I have deep sea doubts about a woolly old wodge of tasteless halibut – although it is served with a good caper sauce, featuring tiny, pinhead capers with a pungency that belies their size. Here, it costs £75 for three courses, £95 for four and £115 for a seven-course tasting menu, which includes a cheese course. Some dishes carry a £10 supplement. At this opening fiscal level, diners are entitled to expect the very best of everything, from the depths of the bread basket to the food on their plate.