Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester

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I have been wanting to come and visit here for so long, and to finally do so was a real treat. A very warm welcome on arrival, invited to see the kitchen and meet Jean-Philippe, and have a glass of bubbles and some ‘barba juan’ – which were little stuffed ravioli bites, made with lots of love and were super tasty. I’ve never had these before.  

What an amazing team he has, and also, he has a very good sense of humour too. 

Jean-Philippe has been here for 9 years, with a strong brigade of 26, and they do 55-60 covers. He changes the menu every five weeks to keep delivering on the most in season produce. 

Back at the table. I have to say, this hotel has a real issue with air conditioning, it was freezing, and this was the case a few weeks ago on the other side when I was dining at The Grill. I think it may have something to do with the renovations, but after commenting about it, things seem to warm up.

The philosophy here is very much Alain Ducasse, however he gives each of his chefs at every restaurant the freedom to express their creativity and put their own signature stamp on dishes. This is very true here as Jean-Philippe has a unique vision for each of his dishes, each being very personal and tell a story, how he was inspired by them and to bring such ingredients together, paying homage to beautiful vegetables. 

Also, using less fat and salt, and preferring instead to use ingredients which have their own salinity such as samphire, caviar, bottarga etc. His passion is abundant.

Starting with a multi seed cracker with whipped butter made with radish tops, shaved radish and pickled turnip, also a Lobster roll, wrapped in pickled daikon. Quite different. 

Really good bread to start, with butter from Suffolk, and a soya curd fermented with lemon juice, made in house, which I wasn’t sure about, but it really worked and was very tasty. 

The first dish was Courgette, toasted almonds, with a velouté, and Kristal Caviar. This was nice, and allowed the ingredients to speak for themselves, all about the courgette here, and then that salty burst of caviar goodness. 

Marinated raw sea bass, cucumber, seaweed and cardamom. The sea bass was very good, the rest brought together an interesting blend of flavours, to add the salty dynamic with the bottarga and samphire, to elevate the natural flavour of the cucumber consommé which had been infused with cardamom leaves. Fresh and clean. 

Lobster medallion, chicken quenelles, Périgord truffle and homemade semolina pasta. The lobster sauce here was incredible, so much love and work gone into it, such was the depth of flavour. You can see why this dish is always here, and shall remain, other dishes will change based on what’s in season but this one is their signature. 

Cornish turbot, swiss chard, girolles, blackcurrant gel, torrefied hazelnut. Pesto made with the blackcurrant leaf topped the fish. There was some bonito vinegar here too as a glaze. It’s all going on. A bevvy of ingredients creating something quite different. I have not had a dish like this before, this very much is Jean- Philippe on a plate and how he thinks and his vision for his dishes work. His inspiration here being that he had been walking in the forest in France and the sea is nearby, and this inspired him to bring these ingredients to meet in such a way. 

Out came an addition to this dish, being a Toasted sourdough crouton, toasted in the same pan as the turbot, rich and buttery, smoked blackcurrant jam, smoked turbot skirt. 

Encapsulates the main dish perfectly in just one bite… 

Farmhouse veal fillet, aubergine, oyster and buckwheat. The veal was excellent and the jus too. Whoever would have thought about veal and oyster being a match? This is where Jean-Philippe pushes boundaries.. last year with his Pigeon and Sardine dish which I can imagine would have been very interesting to try, and once again demonstrates how he is not afraid to take risks. Greek yoghurt and oyster, smoky aubergine, all the flavours going on here on this plate. 

Then another addition, as very big on no wastage, using the veal belly, aubergine sauce, oyster with shallots, seawater and lime, and buckwheat, what a combo.. and this being a refreshment to enjoy at the end, and a reminder of all the flavours you have just tasted, in your main dish. 

Cheese board with some very good French cheeses, with a warm baguette and salad. 

Pre-dessert. Plum and shiso sorbet, with umeboshi plum and plum marmalade. This was good and needed after the cheese and all the other flavours so far.

Desserts were served both at the same time which felt slightly confusing, but I rolled with it. 

Tucking into the chocolate first which was lovely, chocolate mousses with chocolate sorbet, a white vanilla sorbet and a vanilla cream, with an infused cocoa nib drink, followed by the Rum Baba.. like in Monte Carlo, which certainly gave Marco and Helene’s a run for it’s money, their pastry team, with Douglas, delivers. 

Some wonderful chocolates from Paris, which I took away for my team, and they even baked some madeleines for my boys too which was very kind. 

The hospitality here is quite something. Both front and back of house, they have a very close-knit team and everyone clearly idolises Jean-Philppe. He’s created a very good environment to work in, and you really feel that.

The wine was exceptional, Vincenzo was so knowledgeable, he really took me on a journey to complement each dish, which with some of the flavours meant having even a red with the fish to balance some of the other ingredients, which worked. He shared how Jean-Philippe tastes all the wines to match up with each new dish on the menu and is very much a part of that process. 

To summarise, it was a unique experience that sets Jean-Philippe apart from any other chef with his style and dishes. The heavy influence of vegetables means he could easily adapt to a vegetarian menu, the protein is not the focus here, he’s driven by seasonality and allowing each vegetable to really express itself, as well as the marriage between ingredients that he puts together, that is very different, and certainly took my palate on a journey. 

I’m looking forward to getting to know Jean-Philippe a little more in a few weeks’ time when he comes to mymuybueno HQ to interview for my podcast too.

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