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In March I am visiting the following restaurants which I will review:

Mere – Monica Galletti (opens 6th Mar)

Seven Park Place – William Drabble 1 Michelin Star

The Ninth – Jin Tanaka 1 Michelin star

 

 

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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.

Alimentum (Cambridge)- 1 Michelin Star

December 2016

Chef: Mark Poynton

Situated slightly out of Cambridge city centre is the one Michelin starred Alimentum which we visited on New Year’s Eve. The menu was a ten-course taster and of course we had wine paired.

We arrived slightly early and there was definite tension amongst the staff, a distinctly stressed atmosphere. No doubt an event such as this is highly stressful for the staff involved but it should not be so perceptible to the guests.

The restaurant was fully open and the area which is usually reserved for private dining was open. To my delight we were given the table with a window into the kitchen and I thoroughly enjoyed watching the preparations.

We were impressed by the food which was in main delicious. Some highlights which are worthy of note were the raw and cured scallop, the surprising Lancashire bomb soup, the  gin and tonic palette cleanser and the coffee and passion-fruit dessert. The restaurant was providing a huge number of identical covers simultaneously but the kitchen appeared to cope very well.

As well as enjoying the food we were also impressed by the wine. We didn’t dislike any of the wines and some were particularly good. Our favourite was a red Maury Grenat dessert wine which I must have again. The waiting staff were generous with the wine, not that I really needed more than a small glass of each of the nine wines which were paired!

One unfortunate negative regarding the kitchen-view table is witnessing some finger-licking whilst plating the dessert courses from one or two apparently junior chefs. No doubt this goes on in many a restaurant but it is best unseen by the clientele!

In summary we enjoyed New Years at Alimentum and I would recommend it if you are in the Cambridge area as the food and wine were both very good. Generally the service was good but our initial reception was off putting and I would have rather not seen the finger-licking in the kitchen! 

Rating 8/10