Harden's survey result
Now a dozen years old: Alain Ducasse’s UK flagship is a “subtly decorated and beautiful” – some would say “spectacular” – looking chamber on Park Lane, which perennially divides opinion between those who say it “never lets you down” and opponents who say it “never fails to disappoint”. The latter camp have had the upper hand pretty much since the day it opened: they acknowledge a meal here is “a treat”, but focus their fire on the “ludicrous prices”, and the fact that its level of achievement is so “overhyped” by Michelin, who – seemingly on the grounds of Gallic cultural imperialism – insist on awarding this superstar Frenchman three stars, when one or two would be more than adequate!
“I still do not understand why this above other amazing restaurants is one of only three Michelin three-star establishments in London!” The world-famous Gallic chef’s luxurious Mayfair outpost is not without a significant number of advocates who hail it as “the best of the best!”, with “truly first-class cuisine”, “staff who seemingly glide around the floor” and “stunning surroundings”. Even they can find it “stupidly expensive” however, and for far too many critics the cooking here is terribly “overrated” and the overall experience “underwhelming compared to other offerings”. Top Tip: the best seats in the house are on the ‘Table Lumière’, surrounded by 4,500 fibre optic cables.
“It seriously makes me doubt the Michelin rating system” – the world-famous Gallic chef’s Mayfair venture is “not in the same league as the Waterside Inn or Fat Duck” yet inexplicably retains its 3-star top billing. Admittedly, many reports do advocate this hotel dining room’s “discreetly opulent surroundings”, its “courteous” staff and its “awesome” cuisine, but far too many sceptics say it’s “waaaayyyyyyy overpriced” for “muted” food that’s “nice but not a wow”, and find the luxurious interior rather “soulless”.
“3 stars .... not in my eyes!” – Michelin continue to mis-rate the world-famous Gallic chef’s Mayfair temple. True, fans do wax lyrical over its “easy luxury” and cuisine with “perfect balance”, and the “un-snooty” service in particular is “exceptional”. But there are too many doubters who find it feels “corporate” with “inspiration-free” cooking, and “you need to bring ALL your money!”
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester Restaurant Diner Reviews
"This was not only our first visit to Alain Ducasse but also to the hotel itself and I must say that after yesterday's visit it's definitely one that we would like to do again very soon. We decided to go to Alain Ducasse as part of our annual lunch with our good friends and we also like to choose somewhere where neither of us have been to before. As you enter the hotel you find a nice spacious reception area. Then as you look straight ahead you will see a long foyer area where you can relax and enjoy afternoon tea. Halfway down on the left is the entrance to the restaurant where we were met by three young ladies who were very polite and friendly. They took our coats before one of the ladies escorted us into the restaurant itself. Our table was in the middle of the fabulous looking dining room giving us all a great view of the entire restaurant. As soon as we were settled the sommelier arrived to pour us all a complimentary glass of champagne which was a delightful way to begin. This was followed by a large plate of gougeres placed in the centre of the table for us all to share. I have to say that they were little balls of heaven. It was then time for the head waiter to introduce himself and explain to us the four menu's they offer at lunchtime. These were a lunch menu , A la Carte and two Tasting Menus one being the classic and the other was the seasonal Autumn Menu. The tasting menus both consisted of seven courses so therefore we didn't all have to choose the same menu. This was perfect as we were split on deciding which Tasting Menu to choose. In the end two of us chose the classic and the other two chose the Autumn Menu. What you'll now find below is the Autumn Menu which was the menu I chose.?The first course on the menu was a Wild Boar broth with Mushrooms & Sweetscented Marigold which was simply a taste sensation. This was followed by an amazing seared Duck Foie Gras with Celeriac & Juniper Berry. These two dishes were quite rich but a fantastic way to begin and leaving me eagerly waiting for what was to follow. Next to arrive were two excellent fish courses with the first being Hand Dived Sea Scallop with Fermented Cabbage & Black Garlic. The second was a Fillet of Turbot with Leek & Grapefruit. These dishes were a great way to lighten your palate after a hearty but delicious beginning. It was now time for the main course a stunning Dry Aged Beef with Pumpkin , Bone Marrow & Parsley and certainly a dish worthy of being the highlight of the menu. Next to come was the cheese course a Comte Garde Exceptionelle. To accompany this was a plate of complimentary Stilton Blue Cheese. Before we moved onto dessert we were asked if we'd like to have a tour of the kitchen which was an opportunity we couldn't refuse. The kitchen was quite large but when we were told how many chefs are in the kitchen you could see why. While my friends were chatting to the head chef I had the chance to finally meet have a chat to my friend and pastry chef Thibault. We then headed back to the table and while we were waiting for our desserts they brought out an abundance of Petit Fours. Now for dessert and a fabulous creation from Pastry Chef Thibault. It was a delightful Fig from Provence with Walnut & Borniambuc Cream. This was matched with a sweet wine from Austria a Kracher Beerenauslese 2015 with flavours of peach & honey and a mandarin finish made this wine an absolute delight. My friend exhanged this dish so that he could have the Rum Baba where you also get to pick your own choice of Rum. We then finished with tea & coffee or so we thought because suddenly a dessert spoon appeared and we wondered what was happening until they wheeled out on the trolley an Apple Tarte Tatin as a final delightful surprise of our lunch. This was a fabulous way to finish our amazing dining experience. This really was a truly memorable lunch where the food was amazing the sommelier was very good and the service from a very friendly and engaging team was excellent. This is definitely a place I would highly recommend and one in which I look forward to returning to sooner rather than later"
"Arrived at the restaurant a few minutes early and was asked to wait to see how f my table was ready weirdly. Taken to my table in a very subtly decorated and beautiful venue. Staff were very attentive (maybe slightly too much at times) and I was offered a choice of 4 menus, I chose the a la Carte 4 courses which ended up as 8. Each course was beautifully presented and described on serving. Personal favourites were the Pugeon (my all time favourite meat) and the Pistachio soufflé. Every course was superbly presented and delicious. After course 7 I asked for the bill and was taken into the really busy but calm kitchen to meet chef who was lovely and really interesting to chat to. I came out to find a new piece of cutlery on my table, they had decided I ought to try Alain’s personal speciality of the Rum baba with lovely rum and am@zing cream on a stunning sponge. Everything about this experience was absolutely three star apart from some tiny glitches. Toilets exceptionally clean and beautifully presented Would I say it was worth the trip.....Goodness yes, now up to 70 Michelin stars, loving my life!"
|Wine per bottle||£18.00|
Alain Ducasse, Dorchester, W1
A swish but surprisingly comforting addition to the Ã¼ber-chef's international empire, this very Gallic Mayfair dining room offers a surprisingly unintimidating haute-cuisine experience, that's highly enjoyable (if, of course, extremely expensive).
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 meal we enjoyed was really very enjoyable in a money-no-object sort of way - presumably the niche the place is designed to serve. And the other thing you really need to know? - this place is very French.
The setting is a lofty dining chamber with the odd glimpse of park, but nothing that could be described as a view. There are various design flourishes - curvy screens, a funny green wall with bobbly bits, but the most eye-catching feature is a circular area, screened off by sparkly fibre optic cables, Ã la Star Trek? The flourishes, however, do not distract from the fact that this is a true foodie temple, conscientiously designed for eating. How many other dining rooms in London have been planned so meticulously that the downlighters - recessed into large mouldings in the ceiling - sit directly over each of the well-spaced tables? (At lunchtime, there's also a good amount of natural light.)
The staff, as confirmed by the only staff member who appeared to be English, are '99% French', and of the more charming variety. Even the sommelier is not at all supercilious. Some reviews have made much of the wine prices here - fairly, in a sense, as many of the prices do indeed run into four figures - but our suggestion of a £40 bottle was happily endorsed. In fact, we'd readily recommend the Austrian red concerned (Zweiberg) to anyone not in search of great weight or complexity.
The table settings are perhaps a touch fussy - do silver-plated mini-salvers really beat china in the side plate department? - but you soon get into the swing of the place, and the general impression after a while is just very comfortable and harmonious. And there was nothing in the dishes presented to disturb such feelings. The food tends to the mildly adventurous, with a good underpinning of Gallic tradition, which is probably as most diners would want it to be.
First out was a small basket of puffed cheese puffs - not especially exciting - followed in quick succession by a plate of vegetable slivers with a couple of options for dipping and dunking them (in the shape of an intense olive-based sauce - like a creamy tapanade - and a creamy, whipped concoction). It couldn't be described as earth-shattering but it makes a pleasing, light warm-up for your tastebuds. A selection of four breads had also arrived, all of them worth a try.
We mixed and matched from the lunch deal (£35) and a la carte (£70). But the former doesn't feel like the poor relation - seared tuna, in particular, came beautifully presented. From the same menu, a plate of winter vegetables made an attractive main course which lost nothing by the absence of protein. In fact, at lunchtime, it's not really evident why you'd ever really need to choose the Ã la carte.
If you do eat more grandly (from the carte, which has more supplements than you might hope for), the dishes are really not so very different - which is to say they're very good. Squid dumplings were oriental-ish, dense, complex-tasting parcels of flavour, while a more traditional fillet of venison came simply but elegantly adorned.
As is often remarked, however, it's as the meal moves towards its closing phases that the Ducasse experience comes into its own, with a crescendo of dishes reminiscent of the final rockets to make sure you go home wowed by a fireworks display. Having declined cheese, our succession of sweet things included some best-ever macarons (eat your heart out, Ladurée) some beautiful chocolates, and a plate of calorific treats including a gooey, sticky chocolate marshmallow. But we get ahead of ourselves - the actual desserts such as Rum Baba and a health-conscious granita with sorbet and poached fruits (the latter from the tempting lunch menu) started to climb firmly into 'Hall of Greats' territory. And not to forget the final "banger", of course - the little marmalade buns you get presented with at the end of the meal as you wait for your coat for you to enjoy over breakfast the next day.
So, what's not to like about this place? For the most part, the joy of it is that, to a surprising extent - and in spite of its high prices and luxuriousness - it manages to avoid going over the top.
53 Park Ln, London, W1K 1QA
|Number of Diners:|
|Tuesday||12 pm-1:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Wednesday||12 pm-1:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Thursday||12 pm-1:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Friday||12 pm-1:30 pm, 6:30 pm-9:30 pm|
|Saturday||6:30 pm-9:30 pm|