Alain Ducasse’s “sublime” three-Michelin-starred powerhouse is as close as London gets to a temple to gastronomy. Set deep inside The Dorchester, the dining room’s cascading string curtains, stone-grey monolithic room dividers and unobtrusive chill-out beats all create a pleasingly Zen-like space that isn’t nearly as hushed as you might expect.
Executive chef Jean-Philippe Blondet has a blank cheque to recreate his mentor’s sophisticated take on haute cuisine – witness an appetiser involving a sweet Scottish langoustine, served raw and topped with caviar alongside a deep, umami-laden shot of langoustine broth (paired with Ducasse’s own-selection Champagne, of course).
What follows is a roll call of world-class ingredients and flawless cooking: perhaps pan-fried foie gras with crunchy fried rye-bread alongside the sweet-sour hit of grapes cooked in vinegar and the subtle, popping tang of fried yeast, or (our personal favourite) a signature dish of lobster tail with creamy truffle quenelles, circles of perfect pasta and mushrooms – a stunning blend of sweet, earthy and rich tones.
For dessert, the cherry puff pastry tart sprinkled with dinky cubes of espelette pepper is a thing of simple wonder, although the kitchen’s sweet repertoire spans everything from a baba ‘like in Monte Carlo’ to hazelnut soufflé or baked apple with crème fraîche and saffron.
Of course, prices are frightening, but the weekday ‘lunch hour’ menu offers a (slightly) less painful way in: £70 currently buys you three courses, plus two glasses of wine, coffee or tea and a half-bottle of water.
The wine list packs in some serious A-list labels, with three tiers of pairings for the tasting menu. But it was the “fabulous” service that really bowled us over – we left feeling like VIPs, with a bag of petit fours under our arms. As one reader noted, this is “perfection”.