Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

The Dorchester
53 Park Lane
020 7629 8866

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What's the draw

Even those with only passing interest in food will likely have heard the name Alain Ducasse. A truly iconic, legendary presence in the European hospitality industry, the French chef and restaurateur has bridged the divide between the first wave of nouvelle gastronomie in France with the modern fine dining scene of the 2020s, and amassing a huge number of Michelin stars in the process at his restaurants in Paris, Monaco and elsewhere. His London outpost, Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, is the Park Lane hotel's flagship and has held three Michelin stars since 2010, but under the watchful eye of executive chef Jean-Philippe Blondet, has undergone gentle evolution over that time. As well as Blondet's food, a genuinely global audience come for some immaculate wines and service that flits between being so deft as to be completely invisible, and balletic flourishes that are jaw-dropping to behold.

What to drink

There are facets of the Ducasse operation that are old-school (mostly in a very good way) but the wines on offer from head sommelier Vincenzo Arnese and his team aren't one of them. The house-pour champagne – a beautifully crisp Barons de Rothschild non-vintage that balances the heft and precision of Grand Cru chardonnay and pinot noir – aside, there's a sylvaner from Domaine Barmès-Buecher in Alsace that sings with buttered popcorn and a gentle white pepper character; plus trips to Oregon's Willamette Valley and Lebanon's Bekaa Valley via an Alexana pinot gris and Massaya grenache/mourvèdre blend respectively during the pairing. Elsewhere, there's plenty to like in a Feudo Montoni Passito Bianco, made with sun-dried grillo grapes in the Sicilian Hills – plus an always-welcome mid-pairing vintage champagne in the form of Louis Roederer Rosé 2016.

A table at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Jean-Philippe Blondet at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

What to eat

Generally speaking, you're in the hands of Blondet, with menus that aim to showcase a vegetable-centric, farm-to-table approach to modern cuisine doubtless inspired by titans of French cooking like Alain Passard, as well as Ducasse himself. A central tasting menu is the best way to eat – the vegetable-only Menu Jardin is also available – given the à la carte offering is only £35 less. And the modern iteration of Ducasse's vision – by way of Blondet and his team's 13 years of work in the kitchen – combines the creativity of a top-level chef with the demands of being known as one of London's most reliable hotel-restaurant experiences, mixing some modern classics and menu mainstays with some dishes that change every season.

King scallop is roasted in butter, served in the shell with a spellbinding beurre blanc flavoured with finger lime for acidity and topped with caviar, while the lobster medallion dish comes with chicken quenelles, Périgord truffle and pasta and is perfectly balanced, rich and spicy, fresh and light in one. Coming into spring as we are at the time of visiting, the main is pleasingly fresh, a simple, elegant dish of veal with crapaudine beetroot, rhubarb and Kampot pepper, while the blood orange and goat's milk dessert, offset with the punch of argan oil, underlines the fact that – first course aside – this is a restaurant no more in thrall to rich, heavy cooking as it is to old-school claret and sauternes – in fact it feels as fresh in 2023 as it did when it first opened.

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