Alain Ducasse Jumeirah Essex House THIS RESTAURANT HAS CHANGED LOCATIONS Alain Ducasse


155 W. 58th St. (Sixth & Seventh Aves.)
New York, NY 10019
Cuisine: French


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ADOUR ALAIN DUCASSE HAS OPENED AT THE ST. REGIS HOTEL, NEW YORK. It is understandable that Alain Ducasse, the most starred restaurateur of the world could nourish the project---or was it a dream?---to stun the most blasé diners of the Big Apple with a novel house that would supersede in luxury and elegance all the topnotch tables of the city. Easier said than done (and we hope the restaurateur will be able to duplicate his success as the eatery---along with executive chef Tony Esnault---moves to a David Rockwell-designed space in The St. Regis Hotel in 2007). But at the end of the day, Ducasse is not far from reaching his ambitions. Spending an evening---and it is the entire evening---at Ducasse is more than having dinner in a multi-star restaurant. It's an experience, a journey in the refinement of a lifestyle. Behind heavy brass and metal doors in the Jumeirah Essex House corridor lies Ducasse's rendition of a modern manor made intimate with a snug décor enriched with a gold motif and the warm tones of the seats and of the yellow roses. As soon as you enter the room, there's an impalpable perception of something special floating around. The maître d', deft at not intimidating the diners, walks you to the table inviting and shining with fine crystal and silverware. Sitting in the orange and brown banquette you come to believe that you are indeed the distinguished guest of the distinguished landlord. That wonderful perception will come at a price of course, but this is in our opinion what makes Ducasse so special. This is no accident: the details have been polished to procure this feeling of profusion and quality. If it's a glass of Champagne you desire, half a dozen choices are presented from the gorgeous Cuvée Louise to the house non-vintage bubbly Paul Drouet. If it is water you want, ten different bottles are whisked to the table. The same attention and diversity applies to each phase of the ceremony. Truffles are in season? A box of truffles will be brought to your table and shaved at your discretion upon your dish. That's what places Ducasse in a category of its own. Although the ingredients are very rich and vary with the seasons, the philosophy of the house is to avoid interfering with their natural taste and to exalt their very nature by a preparation as simple as possible. Ducasse relies more on the product than on the technique. Therefore, for example, the halibut is cooked au naturel; its neutral texture is seasoned with a touch of acidity added by a pounded lemon and the bitterness of green asparagus; the flavors, though, remain separated. Reductions---rather than sauces---sustain dishes as the bordelaise presented with the quickly seared bison. In short, Ducasse plays it safe. Following these principles and mastering the classical technique, one cannot derail into a catastrophic mish-mash of contradictory tastes, but one could also miss a pleasant discovery if no risk is ever taken. And Esnault---who manned the stoves at Louis XV Alain Ducasse Restaurant in Monte Carlo---fortunately shares the same philosophy. If you choose not to follow the wine pairing suggestion ($120 for three glasses paired with the $225 tasting menu), the knowledgeable sommelier will guide you through an impressive and very expensive wine list and help you discover some lesser known but not necessarily cheaper Burgundies. With an exemplary service to boot, the experience is certainly off the beaten path. As you savor the friandises and gourmandises, prepare yourself to pay the price for this singularity and shell out $150 or $175 for the prix-fixe menus or $225 for the tasting menu. On your way out, a delightful brioche handed to you will help remind you of your dining experience at breakfast the next morning. It's not necessary to underline that Ducasse is not a restaurant meant for everybody, but after all that's the way the world of gastronomy goes.

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