Saturday, 5 June 2010

Three-Star Disappointment

I've been remiss in my blogging - and while life has been busy, I can only blame it on possibly one of the worst dining experiences of my life.  I knew I had to tackle the evening, and have had lovely experiences elsewhere since (further blogs to follow in quick succession no doubt), but I kept reaching a block every time I thought about this dinner.  So where was this fateful evening held?  No less than the 3-Michelin starred Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester.

It wasn't all bad.  The setting is exquisite, with neutral mushroom tones and highlights of pink around the room - I particularly liked the water glasses (and at £6 a bottle for the water, I'm glad I had something nice to drink out of!) - and the subdued lighting gives it a relaxed feel.  I loved the shimmering fibre optics that are the centre point of the room where they cascade from the ceiling (directly behind our seats).

And while I'm still not sure of the point of the ceramic vegetables on each table other than for amusement, the tableware is otherwise beautiful.  That is of course, except for our mis-matched wine glasses... having ordered from the extensive wine list with whopping mark-ups (there is very little below the £50 mark), we were presented with two different shaped wine glasses.  Not what we expected from a restaurant of this calibre, however, when we pointed it out to our waiter, we were brushed off with "they're hand blown".

Unsurprisingly France dominates the wine list, however BoyWonder decided on a £45 Austrian wine: Anton Bauer's Zweigelt 2005, which proved to be the highlight of the evening.  I've been unable to find the 2005 vintage online, but the 2006 is retailing for £13 a bottle.  It was a wine with depth, that opened up beautifully with cherry and mocha tones - a perfect match for our main-course veal in particular.

And so back to the food.  Every dish was beautiful to look at.  Unfortunately the taste did not live up to the aesthetics.  Our amuse-bouche arrived, elegantly presented, and while it is meant to please our taste buds it was like drinking liquid salt.  I'm pretty sure my Mum got me to gargle with something equivalent as a child with a sore throat.

The starter of seafood ravioli, looked amazing.  It arrived in black and white splendour (the black coming from squid ink) and the waiter poured the bright green herb sauce with a flourish around the dish.  It came with tender calamari, which thankfully balanced the puree of seafood that filled the ravioli and resembled something along the lines of baby food.

The main course however was lovely, albeit a little on the small side.  The veal and vegetables was beautifully cooked - all round a well balanced dish.

Dessert arrived and looked sensational, I think it was called something bizarre like The Girl from Ipanema.  It was pineapple mousse topped with a vanilla foam, served with a frangipane on the side.  The vanilla foam was delicious, but the chunks of pineapple that separated the layers didn't work texturally with the dish.

To finish, I decided on a tea from The Dorchester's extensive selection, which was delightful.  BoyWonder went for coffee, and has described it as the "most despicable coffee" he has ever tasted and "probably the worst in the world"... we sent it back, and even our Aussie waiter agreed that it wasn't the forte of the restaurant.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't food taste good?!  The restaurant's website states: "Awarded Three Michelin Stars, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester became the second restaurant in London to receive this prestigious accolade.  Three Stars denote 'exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey'"...  My personal experience is that Monsieur Ducasse has been awarded on his name and reputation and this restaurant - in my humble opinion - is undeserving of even One, let alone Three Michelin Stars.

Cheers, KangaRue


  1. Oh - sad it was so inconsistent! I'd still love to go though.

    You know the pineapple pudding you had is the one that Alex Rushmer had to cook in the MasterChef final ...

  2. Ooh, I didn't realise that - Have met Alex & Dhruv since, and their food kicked arse over this (and I told them so) - will blog on that soon!

  3. What a complete disappointment...

  4. I know how hard this has been for you to write, and am glad that you finally been able to put it into words. It's hard, as we want to blog about good experiences and share our joy, but if we don't also share the bad stuff people will not get a fair idea of what we see and taste. Life isn't box of chocolates sadly!


I'd love to hear your thoughts!