Refreshing reinvention sees French legend focus on nature
No one can accuse Alain Ducasse, arguably the most successful chef on the planet, of resting on his laurels. His flagship Paris restaurant has been entirely reinvented, reopening last autumn with a sparkling new dining room and radically revised menu – and a fundamentally different approach.
The restaurant interior – by Patrick Jouin and Sanjit Manku – is luxurious and striking, with polished stainless steel ‘shells’ dividing the space. Almost every element of furniture, tableware and cutlery has also been crafted by French producers specifically for this enterprise. But the food is even bolder: Ducasse and executive chef Romain Meder have based the menu around the trilogy of fish, vegetables and cereal.
The idea is to refocus on healthier eating using produce that has been caught or grown in a sustainable and largely organic fashion, exploring the flavours of relatively humble, natural ingredients in the process. That means there are starters such as Anjou quinoa, morels and green asparagus or Brittany langoustines with golden caviar, and main courses including turbot with lovage, borage and warm oysters. There are even elements of Japanese ‘Shojin’ cuisine involved, though the cooking is still fundamentally French.
Service is still relatively formal, the wine list full of rarities and classics. Yet Ducasse has undoubtedly created something refreshing and exciting by focusing on nature and simplicity through an haute cuisine lens.
Images: Pierre Monetta