By Kelsey Llewellyn
Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester
Your gastronomic adventure will commence with a stunning presentation of amuse-bouche in a dainty porcelain egg, progress through signature dishes (including sauté gourmand of lobster, truffled chicken quenelles and homemade pasta) and enchant you with a finale featuring four trolleys of delectable desserts (such as mignardises). The best part? Chef Alain Ducasse, one of the world’s most celebrated chefs, has compiled a premier culinary team to guide you through this ethereal journey. Interpreting Chef Ducasse’s French cuisine with his own modern flair, Executive Chef Jean-Philippe Blondet champions fresh and colorful produce in the restaurant’s tasting, seasonal and vegetarian menus. Luxury and attention to detail does not deprive this elegant establishment of the warm, natural beauty created by the modest cream and tan palette that decorates the space. For a private dining experience that quite literally sparkles, reserve “Table Lumière,” which will enclose you and your dinner party in a sumptuous, glimmering curtain of 4,500 fiber optic lights.
Modern French cuisine meets elegance and professionalism at Restaurant Gordon Ramsay. The Seasonal Inspiration Menu capitalizes on the freshest ingredients, with dishes such as the Roves des Garrigues (which blends the flavors of mead, arugula, bee pollen and Manni olive oil). Others will opt for the Menu Prestige, offering equally unique combinations in courses like the roast pigeon with sweetcorn, lavender, honey and apricot. Distinguishing vegetables as equally valuable culinary ingredients, the vegetarian menu highlights the vivid flavors of fresh vegetables (just try the ratatouille to experience what we mean). Those in search of a more personal experience should dine at the Inspiration Table, a private space providing front-row seats to the creation of your cuisine, as well as the ability to gain insight from the chefs preparing it for you.
Pick one of ten seats at Araki’s stunning wooden counter and prepare yourself for a once-in-a-lifetime culinary performance. Put your palate in the skilled hands of Chef Mitsuhiro Araki. Hailing from Tokyo, this Japanese sushi-maestro serves only sushi from his omakase set menu, which features an array of beautifully-cut European seafood as well as rice grown by his father-in-law in Japan. At this highly intimate venue, every guest revels in a view of Chef Araki deftly preparing sushi himself at the chef’s table.
Dinner by Heston Blumenthal
In 1390, the British dined on Rice and Flesh. In 1780, they scarfed down Spiced Pigeon. And, in 1500, the fortuitous devoured Meat Fruit. But, in the 21st century, Dinner by Heston Blumenthal provides history buffs and adventurous souls alike the opportunity to experience it all, with its expansive menu (or, more accurately, timeline) of British cuisine. Take a seat in front of the floor-to-ceiling glass walls overlooking Hyde Park to properly enjoy this historically inspired, yet still modern and innovative, menu. Enjoy a 1390 dish called Frumenty (combining grilled octopus, spelt, smoked sea broth, pickled dulse and lovage) while traveling back to the 16th century in a Tudor-inspired private dining room. For further insight into Chef Director Ashley’s cooking process and your own passionate sommelier, reserve the chef’s table.
Take a trip to the heart of Mayfair to indulge in innovative gastronomic creations, an award-winning wine list and a sleek (and, quite verdant) dining experience. Born of a classical culinary background, Chef Arnaud Bignon’s contemporary French cuisine delivers guests rich and delicate flavors at Greenhouse. For unforgettably wonderful and unusual dishes (like monkfish combined with onion, banana, kaffir lime and dukkah) take advantage of the tasting menu. Those craving a seasonally focused meal should investigate Taste of Summer, which serves unique dishes, such as Dorset crab, mint jelly, cauliflower, granny smith apple and curry. Don’t miss out on the impressive wine list, as Greenhouse remains one of a mere four restaurants in the world celebrated with the Wine Spectator Grand Award.
Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
Expect a daily selection of the freshest and finest ingredients at Hélène Darroze at The Connaught, thanks to Chef Hélène Darroze, who has spent decades accumulating a splendid network of suppliers. Each ingredient stimulates the palate, adding tastes and textures to cuisine influenced by Chef Hélène’s French gourmet heritage. Indulge in the foie gras from Landes (which is expertly combined with Nashi pear, smoked eel and chestnut mushrooms) for evidence of inspiration from the chef’s native home in the Landes region of south-west France. The vegetarian menu is exceptionally refreshing, providing fresh produce the same deference given to meat on the à la carte menu. Both menus offer a choice of five, seven, or nine plates and taste splendidly with the restaurant’s wine pairing.
At Ledbury, fine dining is celebrated through eminent attention to detail. The elegant dining room, impeccable service and unforgettable dishes establish a luxurious ambiance that is markedly devoid of pretension. On weekends, guests revel in the tasting menu, in which Chef Graham unites Berkshire buck with smoked bone marrow, grapes, red leaves, and vegetables. But, at Ledbury, vegetables are not simply designated side-dishes, valued only for their ability to complement meat. Instead, the vegetarian tasting menu transfers the limelight to vegetables, featuring a fabulous dish of deep-purple eggplant delicately glazed with black tea and olives.
At Le Gavroche, you will enter a spacious basement adorned in old-fashioned French decor, where owner Michel Roux consistently enchants guests with classical French cuisine and his highly-polished and attentive team. Once you settle in for the night, we recommend selecting the eight-course tasting menu, featuring dishes like a grilled beef filet with wild mushrooms in a tasty red wine shallot sauce. Say “oui!” to the trolley for a delicious cheese assortment. Interested in joining this culinary flagship in celebrating its 50th anniversary? Enjoy a private dining experience in the Chef’s Library, where you will be served a limited-edition Back to the Classics five-course menu.
Serving contemporary British cuisine, Marcus’s engaging staff welcomes guests into an elegant yet exceptionally comfortable space. Dedicated to evoking and developing memories, this restaurant truly echoes in the minds of gastronomes after they have cleared their plates and taken their last savory bite. Order the chef’s seasonal tasting menu for a five- or eight-course meal, starring dishes combining ingredients like mackerel, cucumber, mint, caviar and new potato. At the chef’s table, bask in a private dining experience that lets you watch the talented chefs prepare of your dinner. If you are interested in an intimate space for you and your fifteen closest friends, reserve The Salon, an elegant and sunny private dining room.
Sketch (The Lecture Room & Library)
Sophisticated French cuisine had never been so colorfully (and quirkily) presented until Mourad Mazouz and Pierre Gagnaire conceived Sketch (The Lecture Room and Library). This eighteenth-century townhouse is electrified by energy, bright colors and luxury. With a singular set of ingredients arranged into intricate combinations, French Chef Pierre Gagnaire provides gastronomes with a myriad of flavors and textures in every tasting and à la carte menu. While you can expect dishes such as pan-fried gambas, pig’s head, green peas, melon and fresh almonds on the tasting menu, the vegetarian menu provides equally interesting combinations (like braised artichoke, mild onion fondue and black truffle).
Sleek, stylish and replete with a stunning central sushi bar, Umu serves Japanese cuisine to hungry guests on Bruton Place. A true renaissance man, Executive Chef Yoshinori Ishii participates in every facet of the restaurant, from creating the ceramic tableware to arranging the flowers to ensuring that the freshest produce from Japan flies in every day. At Umu, pure ingredients take precedent. Having taught ike jime (the humane Japanese method of preparing fish) to the Cornish and Scottish fisherman that provide fish to Umu, Chef Ishii promises only the highest quality ingredients to his guests (as demonstrated by Tsukuri, a dish on the Summer Kaiseki Menu, which includes line-caught Cornish white fish Ike-Jime usukuri). As if Umu’s dedication to the provenance of sources wasn’t wonderful enough, it also has one of the largest sake lists in the world.