Fine dining a la Michelin Stars shouldn’t solely be the realm of those on expense accounts or those with some serious dough burning a hole in their pockets and one of the things I love about London is that most of the lovely lovely high end restaurants do actually offer you a chance of a seat at their tables without the usual accompanying a la carte price tag. If you don’t know where to find these little gems, Bookatable has a whole page of Star deals that lists these offers and the accompanying menus (So you can decide what you like the look of) without being bankrupted in the process.
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester has been on the top of my foodie hit list for an awfully long time and while £60 for lunch isn’t exactly bargain basement, this is a 3 Michelin star restaurant and with wines and drinks thrown in, it was pretty easy to tempt me along for the ride.
The Dorchester is one of London’s iconic hotels and the main thing standing out to me as we stroll through the lobby to the restaurant is how floral everything is – the hotel is all set to welcome in the Spring and it could not be prettier in bloom. The restaurant itself is classically neutral but there’s just a little something that seems to suggest a little bit of an Asian vibe to me – perhaps it was the painted pink floral plates or the chandelier, but either way it is gloriously elegant.
While we’re perusing the menu, a little shell plate of gougeres arrived – Paprika, Black Pepper and Emmental, these were lighter than air and all too easy to pop into your mouth to aid the menu decision making process!
Silly me thought that this would actually be the bread course, but I should have known better. Breads came with their own version of Sophie’s choice. Bacon fougasse, traditional baguettes, Olive loaf and Sunflower were just some of the selections and the staff encouraged us to have seconds, which we gave in only too easily. You’re served salted as well as unsalted butter as well as a highly decadent cheese spread, which I admit we couldn’t help chuckling about. The last thing a buttery cheesy bread selection needs is the addition of more fatty spreads, but again that didn’t stop us diving head first into the cheese, which doesn’t say much for our high moral ground.
The amuse bouche came served in the most delicate egg style dish – a delicate froth of wild mushroom pieces with a walnut emulsion, which just melted in the mouth – such a good sign of things to come.
There are 2 glasses of wine on offer per person already included in the meal which is such a nice touch as too often the wine is what ends up racking up the bill and the sommelier is on hand to help you match what you’re eating with what you fancy drinking or you can do as my lunch date did and just plump for your favourite regardless of any bother with wine matchings.
I’ve opted for the Frogs legs on a Lily pad which I’m told is watercress veloute and Ali opted for the Soft boiled egg with beetroot and Brandade, which we learn is a salt cod emulsion. My frogs legs are tiny and crisp and the Watercress veloute is perfectly seasoned and it’s good, but so far not better than I would have expected. Just thought I would lay those expectations out there on the table!
Mains then is where they come into their own. Ali has gone for the Black Olive chicken breast which is so silkily soft, you barely need a knife to cut it. My cod with mushrooms and broad beans is equally so fantastic, we actually cease all conversation and focus all attentions on our meal, quite an achievement for the chefs if they know how partial we are to a good natter. We only emerge from our haze once plates have been demolished and wiped clean. My cod flakes away at the lightest touch but is cooked perfectly and not mushy – the accompanying sauce of broad beans and mushrooms is a touch of magic.
Despite the lightness of the fish and chicken, we’re both quite full (Probably all that cheesy bread actually) and so we take a little break while we ponder our dessert choices. Ali can’t get past the chocolate options while I’m suddenly feeling very fruity and fizzy and light and opt for the Apricot Pleasure.
Had we known of the pre-dessert dessert that was to arrive, Ali may not have gone for the chocolate. Mint, strawberry and chocolate macarons, salted caramels, nougats, chocolate coated almonds and chocolate tranches all appeared at the table as a little precursor to dessert to come. We just stared at them in shock, but gave them a little try, in the interests of research of course.
Luckily, dessert was so fantastic that it didn’t stop us powering through that either – my apricot pleasure was as I’d hoped, light and fruity with a light fromage blanc adding a touch of richness to my frothy fruity dessert. Ali’s chocolate bar was just as rich as it looked, but the grapefruit sorbet helped to lighten up the flavours to make it an acceptable lunchtime treat.
Teas and coffees lend a dose of caffeine to see us out to the daylight outside and we leave happily content with our decadent lunchtime outing, with the added bonus of not having broken the bank. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to check out what other Star Deals I can take advantage of this summer!
Alain Ducasse at the Dorchester can be found at the Dorchester Hotel, 53 Park Lane, London W1K 1QA. You’ll need to book this nifty little offer, which you can do on the Bookatable site.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Bookatable and asked to review the quality of the deals they offer on their site. The restaurant was not aware I was a blogger.