Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester is a restaurant located in The Dorchester, a hotel in Park Lane, London. It is one of 27 restaurants operated by French chef Alain Ducasse: the head chef is Jean-Philippe Blondet, who replaced Jocelyn Herland in January 2016. Since 2010, it has been one of four UK-sited restaurants to hold three Michelin stars. It opened in 2007 to mixed opinions, but the reviews have since improved.
At the time of opening, Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester was one of 27 restaurants around the world operated by Ducasse. He intended the restaurant to have "the modernity of Beige in Tokyo, the seriousness of La Plaza Athénée in Paris and the flavours of Le Louis XV in Monaco meeting the energy of London."
The Head Chef was originally intended to be Nicola Canuti, but Canuti was replaced before opening by Jocelyn Herland, who moved from Ducasse's La Plaza Athénée in Paris. Patrick Jouin designed the interior of the restaurant, in light coffee and cream colours. The tables feature ceramic vegetables as centrepieces, handmade butter dishes in pink marble, and Porthault linen tablecloths.
The restaurant features a special table for up to six diners called the "Table Lumière", which is surrounded by a thin white curtain which allows diners at the table to view out into the restaurant but prevents other diners from viewing in, and is lit by 4,500 fibre optic lights. Diners who book this table are allowed to select from a choice of tableware and menus, described by the restaurant as being a bespoke dining experience.
Housekeeping classes have also been conducted at the restaurant, with previous restaurant director Nicolas Defremont conducting the two-hour classes for the public. They cover the methods used to prepare the restaurant for diners, in order for students to learn how to apply them at home for dinner parties.
The restaurant serves contemporary French cuisine using seasonal French and British ingredients. Menu items include roast chicken served with lobster, sweetbreads and pasta, served in a truffle sauce. Fish dishes include sea bass baked with razor clams in a parsley and shellfish jus, decorated on the plate in a theme reminiscent of the wallpaper of the 1950s. Zambian Miombo honey is included on the dessert trolley. As of 2012, a seven-course dinner costs around £180 per person, and the restaurant has also recently added a three-course express lunch option which regularly changes the dishes on offer.
Mark Palmer visited the restaurant shortly after opening for The Daily Telegraph. The food critic went into the restaurant with high expectations, describing Alain Ducasse opening a London-based restaurant as the moment when "God comes to town". Particular stand out dishes included halibut with a lemon caper sauce which was described as "sensational", and a "masterpiece" of a chocolate praline and orange dessert. An overall rating of eight out of 10 was given.
Terry Durack of The Independent wrote that some of the dishes on offer at opening were unbalanced but admired the craftsmanship of the dishes. He said that it wasn't the best Ducasse restaurant he had been to, but gave it 16 out of 20, indicating that it was "capable of greatness". Food critic Jay Rayner reviewed Ducasse at the Dorchester for The Guardian, wrote that it was disappointing overall given Ducasse's history, having eaten at the Ducasse restaurant in Paris. He wrote that the ingredients were perfectly cooked, but they didn't make up for the combinations involved in the dishes. He described Ducasse as "capable of brilliance" but that the restaurant was currently a "grasping, mediocre experience".
Matthew Norman reviewed the restaurant for The Guardian after it received its third Michelin star. While he praised the attentive staff, and the quality of the food, he directly compared it to several two-star restaurants he had previously reviewed and had trouble identifying the difference between the general quality of two star and three-star restaurants. He suggested that he may be due to the impact of Alain Ducasse himself. Food critics from Time Out reviewed the restaurant's express lunch menu in 2011, giving it four out of five stars and describing one dish, a rhubarb, strawberry and vanilla millefeuille, as having "sang out the meal on a high note".
In 2009, the restaurant appeared in the Michelin guide for the first time, appearing directly with two stars, and was named a Michelin rising star. The following year, this was increased to three Michelin stars; the restaurant becoming only the fourth UK-based three-Michelin star restaurant following The Waterside Inn, The Fat Duck and Restaurant Gordon Ramsay.