I resisted but couldn’t help myself and so I decided to try Hôtel Plaza Athénée’s Alain Ducasse. The first impression is the overwhelming glitter as the ceiling is dripping with 10,000 rock crystals.
The service at Alain Ducasse is as good as it gets, top-notch professionalism and there are very few if any flaws. The work at the table by the waiter or the bread service is perfect, and the staff are all in sync. Under the tutelage of the restaurant manager (maître d’hôtel) Mr. Denis Courtiade, this fine French gentlemen understands hospitality, and lives through offering Ducasse’s clients a true 3 star Michelin experience.
There is no doubt that for anyone romantic at heart, you will adore and enjoy the pleasure of this type of a Michelin experience in France. The discipline, decor and the cuisine, all tailored to please clients, fancy them with a unique experience of French haute cuisine. The bread, butter, fish, cheese and desert, and this time no meat. It all makes you feel the grandeur, the effort made by designers and architects to create a special place, and at the same time a feeling of being relaxed.
The menu is below and you see the various dishes and choices with a focus on healthy wholesome yet extravagant cooking. The meal was superb, nothing less than I expected, the dishes creative and finally Ducasse goes back to the basics. Simple and to the point, the focus are his recipes and the marriage of the freshest raw materials. His focus on technique and no frills shows his Ducasse dedication to the his career in haute cuisine.
He does just enough and holds back what isn’t needed and is the opposite to most young chefs, he has the experience and know how in the designing of a menu. Here you find excellence, a supreme understanding of the future.
The butter and bread are incredible, a cereal bread and a farm fresh butter spooned onto a wooden palette, you can’t stop once you try it.
The small dish of sorrel caught me off guard, as I thought of their medicinal values. This is a hardy perennial herb in the buckwheat family, all with some degree of acidity and even sourness. I am not which type they used but the most strongly flavored variety is Belleville sorrel, also called sour grass and the mildest variety is dock sorrel. This dish had the perfect balance and texture, the topinambour were thinly sliced and added a good element to this dish.
The small amuse-bouche had small those details that make the difference, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. The right amount of citrus adding the subtle flavor of change.
The food kept coming and coming and the range of foods was tremendous. Ducasse mixes classical dishes with a modernity to make them feel fresh. The decadence of the lobster’s mille-feuille in contrast to a sardine’s skeleton, a food you might find in a taverna, or served in a course during kaiseki cuisine in Kyoto. It is all about knowledge and he impresses you with his understanding of travel, culture and cuisine. The attention to details the combination of micro elements works well with the finest raw materials found in France and Italy.
The caviar and the lentils, wow is all I can say! The gelée was hidden in the reflection of the silver bowl, and when you used the nacar spoon you found lentils underneath. The contrast was so subtle and it was a magical combination, superb!
The cauliflower cooked en fine croûte was sublime, and the sea scallops cooked expertly with a slice of raw cauliflower to add a touch. This dish blew my mind when the young waiter sliced supreme Alba white truffles over top.
The fish course with the rouget (cooked flawlessly) with the liver of the fish, this sauce coats your mouth, balanced and deep in contrast to the delicate red mullet. The cooking of the skin by using hot oil makes it crispy and gives it a hair-raising look. The simplicity of this course, yet the sophistication says it all.
The final course, the idea of Asian influence steps out of mind, a course of fresh black rice and seafood with salicorne made me astonished. The sophistication the idea that a chef has traveled and begins to see how important sequence is in cuisine.
The desert was the best I have tasted in a very long time, I barely had place for it but I couldn’t resist. The coupe of sorbet blew me away, it was as good as I’ve ever tasted and the citrus with algue and kombu with fresh almonds was racy and the sweetmeat of the fruit’s compote gave it the zing it needed – incredible!
The Chocolate café torréfié was the pièce de résistance of the meal, and I thought to myself, now I understand what this chef is thinking, something most chefs miss and gets lost in powder and supercharged food design! This cuisine is about the palate but it includes the electrochemical process of the brain and the terminal button turned on.
Bravo to Ducasse but bravo to Monsieur Denis Courtiade, because without his know-how and expert staff this meal wouldn’t have been executed with the level it deserves, a three star Michelin extraordinaire.