Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester- 3 Michelin Stars

February 2017

Chef: Alain Ducasse

I had high hopes for lunch at the Dorchester.

It began well- the hotel is itself is of course a lovely setting and the cocktails were very good. I tried Her Majesty’s cup (served from a teapot) and Clover Leaf, both were nice but Clover Leaf was really lovely.

There are some little touches here which you find in the good London hotels but wouldn’t find in a standalone restaurant like having staff to open the restaurant doors for you as you enter from the lobby and I do like my clutch bag to have its own little seat at the table so that is all good. The décor is ok but not to my taste. Not that that really matters what matters is the actual taste….

We started with some lovely breads and then opted for the lunch-hour menu. The amuse bouche was great too; tasty and beautiful in colour containing, unsurprisingly, a beetroot sauce (unsurprising because I don’t believe I have eaten a meal in London not incorporating beetroot since 2015). The starter of eel however was distinctly grey and vaguely unappealing to look at and the promised eel was hardly distinguishable. Not unpleasant but certainly nothing special. One of my companions had the poached egg with celeriac which they praised. The wine paired, a white, was fairly flavourless.

For the main I opted for pasta with lobster. That was certainly more appealing in look and taste than the starter and was much more flavoursome. The wine paired, another white, was OK and having tried both the reds on offer, both of which I disliked, I decided it was the best of the four on offer. There are just four ‘paired wines’ on offer with the lunch-hour menu regardless of what you choose from the menu which I am not sure is really ‘pairing’ the wine.

The petit fours were very tasty. Dessert was pleasant but again not particularly note-worthy. Having been disappointed in the sommelier’s wine chose I opted for my own choice of dessert wine from the menu (Austrian) which was lovely and somewhat made up for the earlier wine-induced disappointment.

I do offer a caveat to this review; I realise we had the lunch-hour menu so the menu is more limited than when dining in the evening or ordering from a la Carte. However this restaurant has 3 Michelin Stars and I expected more from them. There was nothing bad about our meal but equally there was also nothing particularly exciting or exceptional about it.

In summary I will offer some advice: if you want excellent food and impeccable service go to Restaurant Gordon Ramsey instead, if you want ‘the taste of France’ which The Dorchester promise on their website go to Club Gascon instead, if you want to dine splendidly in a good hotel visit The Connaught and if you want a meal to blow you away go to The Ledbury. Oh and if you still fancy The Dorcester don’t opt for the lunch hour menu.

Rating 6/10.

Restaurant Gordon Ramsay- 3 Michelin Stars

Chef: Clare Smyth

Situated on Royal Hospital Road, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, is away from the city centre but I suppose if you have 3 Michelin stars the customers will come to you. Which of course we did.

We had an early lunch reservation, at midday, and actually arrived slightly early. The restaurant however did not open its doors until a few minutes after midday leaving us loitering unfashionable outside along with another couple who also had a midday booking. I do take the view that any restaurant should open its doors fifteen minutes before the time of the first table booking. Once inside however the restaurant is lovely and the staff were fantastic.

The staff were in fact impeccable and we experienced the best service to date. The maitre d was simply excellent. The staff, under his watchful eye, had a curious ability to judge exactly the moment to speak, serve or offer more drinks. The champagne cocktails were of course lovely and the G&Ts were also perfect.

The food was beautiful and delicious and the cheese trolley is stunning. We have never failed to be impressed by Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants and his flagship eatery, perhaps unsurprisingly did not disappoint.

In summary it is clear to see why this restaurant has three Michelin stars. Without doubt it is the best restaurant we have been to. I would thoroughly recommend it but I would perhaps pre warn you that food and service this good don’t come cheap so don’t forget your Amex.

Rating 10/10.

Dinner by Heston – 3 Michelin Stars

January 2016

Chef: Heston Blumenthal

Spoiler alert…Oh the disappointment!

This restaurant has been on the must-visit list for a while. It is certainly one of the most famous restaurants in the capital, even the non-foodies know of this one and with three Michelin stars it certainly should be one of the best in the country.

The restaurant is in the Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park; a lovely setting with great views over the park. The restaurant decor is pleasant with high ceilings and do I like the modern glass wine cellar and the floor to ceiling glass walls allow a good view of the kitchen.

The concept of the restaurant is a exploration of gastronomic history so the menus are inspired by dishes from throughout time. We visited Dinner for lunch. The midday meal is what my grandparents called dinner so I think it isn’t as much of a misnomer as it seems.

Bread was served. Presumably a long lost old English recipe but to our mind the word would be stale. I, a long way from an expert baker, have made sour-dough bread without a pinch of modern or added yeast and a fresh loaf is always delicious so why this wasn’t I find difficult to understand.

No amuse bouche appeared so on to the starter. This seemed the perfect opportunity to try something new so we both chose the pigs ears. The presentation was uninspiring (a ragu mixture on toast) and whilst the taste was interesting the texture was unpleasantly gelatinous. Fair enough, maybe that is what pigs ears are like but although we both like trying new dishes it is rare for neither of us to finish a dish and this went half-eaten on both sides of the table.

The mains were an improvement. I chose fish and my companion chose chicken. Both dishes were good (I purposely use an unimaginative word here because that is really all they were). We enjoyed both dishes but they were a long way from exceptional.

I do like the little snippets of history that the menu includes and the concept of the restaurant is certainly an interesting one. I appreciate that these dishes are taken from history and so are a little unusual and maybe not the same as the cuisine we usually eat but to my mind the whole point was that, yes they are old recipes but the chef would use his experience to take those antiquated dishes and made them something exceptional and delicious.

This restaurant as a long string of accolades and I struggle to understand why. Maybe we were there on an off day? (I suggest off-days are not possible in 3 Starred Michelin restaurants). Maybe the hype of this restaurant blinded the critics? Or maybe it just isn’t for us? Whatever it was, I don’t want to return.

Unfortunately the prosaic words used throughout my review sum our meal up. If you like visiting the ‘best’ restaurants then this is of course a must try but if you just want one exceptional meal, say for a special occasion, this would not be on my list of recommendations.

Rating 3/10.