I know not everyone is a big fan of Valentine’s Day, but I love it! The opportunity to celebrate love, spend some special time with Mr S and to eat lots of chocolate and drink pink champagne! This year would be our fourth Valentine’s Day together, but it felt extra special as it would be our first as a married couple. For the exciting occasion we decided to revisit The Dorchester, where we had our wedding reception, and have dinner at three-Michelin star restaurant, Alain Ducasse.
Before we left for dinner, we exchanged our cards and Mr S showered me with red roses and heart shaped chocolates.
The four roses are actually frozen so that they’ll last all year, I thought it was a great idea, and one I’d never seen before.
Charbonnel et Walker had sent me this gorgeous big heart-shaped box of pink champagne truffles which just happen to be Mr S’s favourites. Ok…not the most masculine of chocolates but they are totally scrumptious.
Excitedly we got into a cab and headed down to our favourite hotel…the place where we had our first glass of champagne, first dance and cut our wedding cake as a married couple.
The hotel’s talented florist had decked out the hotel’s beautiful foyer for Valentine’s Day
I love the hotel bar so we headed there for the first glass of champagne of the night.
The rich aubergine and red tones of the bar, sumptuous velvet seating coupled with the mahogany and mirrored accents make this bar one of the most glamorous in London
The glass-spears are dramatic and unique and give the bar a modern edge to the otherwise classic feel.
And for Valentine’s Day, the pink version of our favourite champagne was the perfect choice. I’m not a huge lover of rose champagne, but LP’s is actually very dry and crisp.
I know it’s cheesy but it felt so wonderfully romantic to be enjoying a glass of champagne together, just as we had done in the hotel’s ballroom on our wedding day. We were booked in for a late seating so it was 9.30 before we headed to the restaurant.
First, my bag took it’s seat…
And then Mr S and I took ours. The dining room epitomises simple, classic elegance. Calming natural colours and fabrics decorate the area but incorporate unique elements such as the wall of green silk buttons that you can see behind Mr S.
But the most stunning feature of the restaurant, you can see behind me… a waterfall of 4,500 shimmering fibre optics.
I also loved the luxurious silver plates and elegant leaf shaped napkin holders.
We started off with another glass of rose champagne which came as part of the set menu. Now as much as I love Valentine’s Day, I can’t stand over-priced set menus, where you don’t get to choose what you eat. But the thoughtful Mr S had checked ahead and requested sea bass for me rather than beef. He hadn’t noticed duck foie gras on menu, but I asked the waiter for a substitution and without any hesitation he suggested an alternative of wild mushrooms.
Rather excitingly Mr S had also arranged for us to enjoy a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon with our meal…
Another reason we’d chosen to come here for Valentine’s was that having dined here about three years ago for Mr S’s birthday, we still remember it as the most incredible dining experience we’d ever had in London. The restaurant is one of the only two three Michelin-starred restaurants in London, plus Chef Alain Ducasse is one of the most decorated and esteemed chefs in the world.
We were also presented with a porcelain leaf of gougeres including black pepper, paprika and emmental cheese. A similar dish had been served at Hibiscus, though there I had found it overly rich whereas Alain Ducasse’s version were light and airy.
Mr S and I were having a magical night at this incredible place but at this point the night started to go a little awry. We’d been enjoying our conversation, sipping our champagne and nibbling the gougeres but it had got to 10.30, and not only had we not been given our starter but we hadn’t even been offered bread. I had to ask twice before we were finally shown a rather glorious selection of different options.
I chose a delicious wholemeal roll and a baguette, and Mr S had the bacon fougasse alongside a different type of baguette. Years ago when we used to eat in the Dorchester’s Grill Room, there was a whole bread trolley, I think that my dad would launch a campaign to bring it back.
The manager came and explained that our order hadn’t gone through, hence the wait… but, it had gone through now and our meals would be out shortly.
At around 10.45 our first course came out:
The winter flavours of the potato gnocchi with pumpkin and smoked eel were totally delicious and a beautiful sight to behold. However, with it arriving so late and hunger encroaching, it was hoovered up by us both very quickly.
Next two duck foie gras dishes were presented to us…where was my mushroom? The dishes were whipped away and taken back to the kitchen leaving us to wait again.
When dish came out correctly it was absolutely perfect and I loved how the textures of dried mushrooms contrasted with the cooked and the added dimension of the pastry shape on top.
My husband’s duck foie gras was served with a citrus condiment and a big thick wedge of country bread to spread it on.
Now by no means am I saying that the service was bad: water was constantly repoured, crumbs scrapped away and spillages were covered but as it was nearly two hours into our meal that we received our third course, our special bottle of champagne was running very low and the night had lost a little of it’s exciting momentum. The manager was very kind and apologetic about the whole thing but I couldn’t help but be a little disappointed.
Our third course was the scallops, or the ‘sensual seafood’ so called because Goddess Aphrodite was apparently carried to earth in a scallop shell. The plump and juicy fruit of the sea was served with Jerusalem artichokes, salsify and parsnip. Perfectly cooked and incredibly delicious.
Our main courses were our favourite foods respectively, I had wild sea bass…
And Mr S had a fillet of Continental Cross Beef, both served with cauliflower ‘au gratin’ and black truffle. Now apparently the truffle has been considered an aphrodisiac ever since the time of ancient Romans; the aroma emitted by the truffle is supposed to similar to the male pheromone and is therefore irresistible to women…clearly this menu had been created with only one thing in mind.
Now as you can imagine it was getting very late so we had the petite fours alongside the dessert…as you can see there was plenty of chocolate…and rather excitingly we got some macarons in there too!
And the piece de resistance…
I can barely begin to describe the Heart for Two sharing dessert. Except to say it was quite possibly the best dessert I’ve ever had in my life…delicious soft layers of chocolate mousse, rich praline feuillete, under cut with a tart passion fruit cream all resting on a crispy chocolate biscuit base. Seriously I could write a love poem and dedicate it to this dessert.
Oh Chocolate Heart for Two,
How I loved eating you,
Your perfect crisp biscuit base,
Prepared with elegance and with grace.
With a centre of chocolate mousse so fine,
and a layer of passion fruit, sublime,
Oh how I didn’t want to have to share…
To give away half was hard to bear…
…. not only were we treated to this marvellous dessert but we also received gifts from the restaurant.
A perfect red rose and granola heart for me and a little bottle of champagne for Mr S. The manager also gave us a book by Alain Ducasse to apologise for the delays.
I must be honest, I was disappointed by the overall experience as the delay and mistakes meant everything was slightly rushed towards the end, we left the restaurant very late, and Mr S had an early start the next day. However, I could not fault the food I was absolutely blown away and I loved every bite. I’d love to return once more when the restaurant isn’t under the pressure of the Valentine’s Day covers and set menu especially as it is still such a special place for us.
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
53 Park Lance
020 7629 8866