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Apr 5, 2008 02:28 PM


Has anyone been to this new Ducasse venue in the St. Regis?

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    1. We were not impressed. See our notes:

      Adour - Alain Ducasse
      St. Regis Hotel
      2 E 55th Street
      New York, NY 10022

      After less than memorable (actually memorable but not in a positive way) earlier meals at Alain Ducasse restaurants in Europe, Hong Kong and in New York, but after we read the positive critics reviews of Adour we decided to give it a try. Having been the previous week at L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon we had a perfect point of comparison.

      The David Rockwell designed room is neither overly attractive nor unattractive. It is just neutral and makes the best of a somewhat awkward space at the St. Regis Hotel. The wine storage cabinets throughout the dining area are impressive, but do they really make this a premier dining space? The close rectangular table arrangements for twos is also more mainstream restaurant rather than the well placed and well suited round tables at fine dining places such as Daniel or Jean-George

      The start was shaky as our reservation request was not honored, but after a polite reminder, we were seated at an acceptable table. The wait service was professional, but far short of expectations of a top restaurant.

      Wine service was at best odd. First the sommelier seemed confused when we asked for a recommendation of a Pouilly Fuisse and he recommended a Pouilly Fume. Then when we selected a well priced Chassagne-Montrechet after briefly showing the bottle, the sommelier did not open the bottle within visible sight, did not show the cork, and then put the wine in a decanter – the first time in my life a French white was placed in a decanter. It was weird at best. But when the wine was not routinely served during dinner and the sommelier later tipped the decanter to get the last drop of the wine as he cleared the decanter, the wine service went from weird to just plain bad service.

      And service did not improve when the wrong first courses were placed in front of us. After we started sliding the plates across the table the head waiter chastised the busser but never apologized for this major fault. Not anything one expects at a top restaurant.

      So the setting for the food was strained before we had our first taste (we will discount the bread sticks presented as some weird pseudo amuse-bouche). Our first courses of sweetbreads and gnocchi while acceptable paled in comparison to comparable dishes at L'Atelier. Same for our mains of chicken and pork, both of which lacked any fine cuisine sizzle.

      While some may find the food at Adour fine and some may even accept the food as finest French gourmet cuisine, to us it is merely acceptable.

      Adour - Alain Ducasse – Acceptable.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Martin_Chamois

        Thanks for the report. It's about what I would expect from Ducasse, having tried several of his restaurants. Whether they are good or bad, there are usually plenty of other equally good choices that are less expensive.

        By the way, regarding

        "The David Rockefeller designed room"

        I think you mean David Rockwell.

        1. re: rrems

          Thanks for catching the brain fa__ on David Rockwell

        2. re: Martin_Chamois

          I echo Martin's sentiments. My wife and I went to celebrate our third anniversary (first was at Per Se and the second at Jean-Georges) and boy did Adour fall flat.

          I'd say the food was a bit above "Acceptable" though. The sweetbread was tasty but I prefer a little more gaminess, which woould have been a match with the egg purse. I asked for a recommendation and they suggested an off the menu dish, Barramundi with tomato. This was quite delectable.

          However, service was lacking. We ordered two half bottles, one for each course and on several occasions I found my glass almost empty. It took either me getting their attention or very long period of not having any wine in my glass before it got filled.

          Let me backtrack a bit, we should have seen this coming when the amuse-bouche was served with our first course. Oh, btw, I could have made the amuse-bouche... it was so underimpressive.

          Anyway, the service was almost painfully slow. With that said, I gave them the beneft of the doubt ordering a cheese plate along with dessert and a couple of glasses of muscat. The Captain (unprompted) offered a complimentary dessert wine and set another couple of glasses. After about 10-15 minutes the glasses were yet filled with anything and a server lifted the glasses off the table. She actually was very nice throughout the service but did not realize that the captain offered complimentary drinks.

          In any event, I did speak with the Captain and gave him some constructive criticism as well as completed the survey that came with the check.

          The staff were individually nice and very personable but collectively they need a lot more tuning.

        3. I was at the wine bar at the top of this month (May). As my friend and I were headed to a large dinner at Le Bernardin, we just had a glass of wine (each) and shared the scallop appetizer, which is as good as others here have noted.

          I did find the projection menu to be quite annoying, and cumbersome. As some have pointed out, it provided great information about each wine. But, that could have been easily done on paper too. Of course, an under-projection system would make even more sense.

          The background music was slightly that side of tolerable. If I had to describe it, I'd say it was a muzak version of the soundtrack to a Bond film circa Sean Connery.

          You can see photos of the projection screens and more ( my Flickr account).

          1. We had just done the full tasting menu at Gordon Ramsay at the London here in Manhattan the week before -- stunning food, exceptional service, passionate and knowledgeable staff, elegant space...I could go on.

            And then Adour last week.

            SUCH a disappointment.

            Again did the tasting menu, and compared to Gordon Ramsay:
            (1) Had to ask our waiter to explain each course to us;
            (2) Amuse bouche were pathetic, at best;
            (3) Food mediocre (did the tasting menu at L'Ecole just three days later and the food was entirely comparable -- and it's cooked by students!)
            (4) Wine bar for the restaurant is bizarre, gimmicky, and absolutely pretentious. Come on, folks -- feels like Times Square

            Wholly frustrating meal and one I would ardently NOT recommend. Not terrible, just lackluster -- and in a city of excellence (and an economy that makes one question a $1400 mediocre evening for 3), there is no reason to return.

            3 Replies
            1. re: PaulaDarling

              Agree. Staff snooty. Nothing outstanding in food. Atmosphere is stuffy. Wouldn't go back.

              1. re: PaulaDarling

                I disagree with the above and below reviews of Adour. Perhaps, since I am a regular customer of Alain Ducasse restaurants both here and in France/Monaco, I am always suprised when diners don't appreciate meals at Adour or at any of his restaurants. I have eaten three meals at Gordon Ramsey at the London; my last meal was one of the worst meals I have ever had. The food was tasteless and cold, the serving sizes tiny, the service more worthy of a local bar than a two star michelin star restaurnat. The wine service was similarly awful.
                What is wrong with a waiter explaining courses to a customer. That is after all his job.
                This past monday, I had the white truffle menu at Adour; I thought the food was delicious and the service spectacular.

                1. re: sethd

                  After closing the extravagant Essex house restaurant, Alain Ducasse finally returned to New York. This time, he returned with simpler concept and food – here comes the first Adour. My meal was when Joel Dennis acted as the Executive chef.

                  Food (and wine) – 91/100

                  Similar to other Ducasse restaurants, the resources are quite plenty. There are several choices for each section, this time with friendlier price compared to his previous NY restaurant. I decided to go for the tasting menu and overall I was happy with the food. I thought some of the dishes certainly worth 2 stars such as: the sweetbread dish – rich and tender meat combined with tasty runny yolk, earthy wild mushrooms and carrots/celery, honestly the brioche was unnecessary (lack of butter fragrance). Another top dish and also my favorite was the piece of perfectly cook Elysian lamb (delicious and juicy) – a scrumptious dish, the lamb was about as good as the one I had at per se.

                  The rests of the dishes were alright: the marinated hamachi was fresh; the lobster raviolis – while quite tasty, I could not really taste the lobster’s meat texture. The zucchini was also a bit more dominant for my taste … unless you can do lobster/langoustine ravioli as good as Robuchon/Ramsay, then it’s kind of a ‘waste’ to prepare lobster this way. When the dessert came, they looked ‘bulky’ but surprisingly it’s delicious and it’s ‘original’ among Duccase desserts. By the way, I ordered dark chocolate sorbet (wonderful cocoa flavor) that’s mixed well with caramelized croutons. My friend also ordered a degustation menu and was happy with the sautéed duck foie gras, but found the duck breast was OK only. Her pistachio soufflé was nice, but not too airy. I suppose my dessert was better. The meal was closed with the best macaroons (raspberry and passion fruit/chocolate flavors) I’ve ever had in the US. Sandro Micheli is probably one of the most solid pastry chef in NY, or even in the nation.

                  Adour put emphasized on the wine pairing for every dish created. I did not quite follow it somehow. For this meal, I only had a class of Duccase NV brut champagne and a glass of 2006 Parr selection chardonnay of Santa Rita hills (bright gold with smoky pear aromas, rather sweet with dusty minerals finishing). Almost in every Ducasse restaurant, the wine selection was solid. The price? Expensive as expected from a fine dining place. I think Adour is capable to cook delicious dishes; they simply need to be more consistent. I don’t believe this place will get Michelin highest accolade, but with the potential it has, Adour should strive for 2-star (I grant this in my notes). With the arrival of Didier Elena, I believe Adour will be capable of doing so.

                  Service (and ambiance) – 92/100

                  The restaurant was full house when I dined there a couple of years ago. It seems to be doing good business. The main dining, a mixed of modern and traditional decor, is quite relaxing but as always the hardware are top notches from the plush burgundy chairs, a few modern ‘paintings’ and some wine vaults that served as walls. The service was courteous and professional. My captain was kind and flexible when we changed the menu; he tried his best to make guests happy – but don’t expect a smooth and flawless service a la Ducasse top places in Europe. The napkins were sometimes changed. Overall, this place was on par with the experience I had at EMP (91.5 pts aka low 2-star)

                  Pictures of the dishes:

                  Adour Alain Ducasse
                  2 East 55th Street, New York, NY 10022

              2. Wow, it's unbelievable how negative most reviews here were on Adour, but all of the negative comments were from 2008. I'd like to give my (more recent) perspective on the restaurant.

                I've now dined at Adour 3 times (2011-2012) and enjoyed my experience every single time. The food here, while not cutting edge, has always been wonderful and satisfying. I'm convinced that this place has possibly the single best dessert in New York City, the Dark Chocolate Sorbet. This, along with the Contemporary Exotic Vacherin, are considered signature desserts. Eating here without ordering at least one of these two desserts would be criminal. Despite the old pastry chef Sandro Micheli's departure, these two items have so far remained on the menu.

                I also love the wait staff here. They're so polished, yet so friendly and welcoming. I'd gotten different servers every time I ate here, every single one of them just lovely. The service team here is seriously my favorite in the city.

                Eating at Adour makes me happy. I think it's severely under-rated and deserves more attention than it's getting. The negative reviews here are very out-dated and no longer reflect the state of the restaurant. I encourage more Hounds to give this place a try.

                Here are some photos from my recent meals at Adour:

                3 Replies
                1. re: Cheeryvisage

                  Sounds like Adour is still good after the new chef de cuisine has taken over.
                  I am going back next week, and looking forward to it.
                  Thanks for your review, Cheeryvisage! :)

                  1. re: kosmose7

                    No problem!

                    I believe the menu for the rest of this month will still be of dishes by the former chef de cuisine Didier Elena. I read that the new chef Julien Jouhannaud will change the menu in April:

                    1. re: Cheeryvisage

                      Oh I see. I am still looking forward to it though! :)