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THE SER­VICE

This has Alain Du­casse’s touch, so ex­pect the usual slick, well-groomed staf. Our waiter was charm­ing, and once we had done away with the irk­some ‘menu rec­om­men­da­tions and ex­pla­na­tions’, the well-oiled ma­chine got to work. Glasses were never empty, ta­bles end­lessly brushed, and there’s real heart to the front of house. I wasn’t recog­nised.

THE FOOD

Again, with a Du­casse restau­rant you can be cer­tain that the food will be tech­ni­cally as­tute. The sig­na­ture blue lob­ster chow­der (£17) is more Provençal bisque than New Eng­land chunky soup – it’s refned, el­e­gant and pos­sesses a se­ri­ous piscine punch. A cod­dled egg, crayfsh and herb fric­asse (£19) ar­rives in a Kil­ner jar – so 2011 – but has an as­ton­ish­ing clar­ity of favour. Tan­gles of spinach wal­low in an ethe­real eggy broth. It looks dull but tastes divine. Less suc­cess­ful are the ra­zor clams (£16) – the grati­nated crust over­whelm­ing the sub­tle tang. A vast veal chop (£32) whis­pers rather than moos, just as it should. A hint of bovine hef, mixed with sof suc­cu­lence and skilled grilling, makes this a thing of beauty. The mush­room and cream is silken but with meat of this qual­ity, rather un­nec­es­sary too. Then choco­late soufé (£14): a pol­ished, smooth-sided Vogue cover-star of a pud­ding. Firm but lithe body, lus­ciously ooz­ing heart. Mag­nifque. As is a mar­malade cheese­cake (£13) of startling in­ten­sity – great in­gre­di­ents, won­der­fully cooked, with prices to match.

THE BOT­TOM LINE

The room has the most ex­pen­sive of glows. And the clien­tele, as you might ex­pect, is In­ter­na­tional Ex­pense Ac­count. But this is Du­casse, so the menu is more laid back than the room. The cook­ing is pre­cise, but it’s se­ri­ously ex­pen­sive, mak­ing it a place to im­press new clients or in-laws. And the room lacks bonhomie, so I’m not sure I’ll go back. Bill was £259.88 for two, in­clud­ing ser­vice

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