I expect big things from Alain Ducasse. Anyone who holds Michelin’s top three-star rating for restaurants in three cities at the same time, as Ducasse did for Le Louis XV in Monte Carlo, the Plaza Athénée in Paris, and, until its closing last year, Alain Ducasse at Essex House here in New York, is clearly, to say the very least, a highly capable chef and restaurateur. So the prospect of visiting Adour, Groupe Alain Ducasse’s new venture, located in the
The restaurant seats 72 in an open central area and a handful of smaller rooms around its periphery. A separate tasting room can accommodate up to 12. We sat in one of the round satellite dining rooms, which held four tables and was decked out in various shades of gold. Our server was solicitous almost to the point of awkwardness, thanking us each time we thanked her. Thank us? What did we do? Perhaps the prospect of the tip she would receive on such a pricey meal explained her advance gratitude.
Our first starter was the Delicate Cauliflower Velouté with Dubarry Bagel and Comté Cheese ($17). I thought the Comté cheese with the Dubarry bagel was a cute, if possibly unintentional, play on titled nobility, since comté is the French word for “county” and Madame du Barry, mistress of Louis XV, was also known as the Comtesse du Barry. But a Dubarry bagel? In “BITE,” the online journal portion of her Insatiable Critic website, Gael Greene calls the bagel “a Ducassian wink at New York,” further quoting executive chef Tony Esnault as saying: “‘I am sure if she were alive and in New York, Madame Dubarry would love it.’” Really? I suppose we can attribute anything we want to the tastes of 200-year-dead courtesans, but I have my doubts. On the other hand, there is a place called Barry’s Bagel Boys on
I should have read between the lines and known that Adour Lobster Thermidor ($48) is not the same thing as Lobster Thermidor, and so I had no business feeling let-down at the absence of cheese, cream, and mustard. The Adour incarnation, served with Swiss chard fondant, featured a succulent lobster claw and tail, and a small lobster shell filled with chopped lobster, carrot, onion, breadcrumbs, mushrooms,
Dessert was a step above the courses that preceded it. Pastry chef Sandro Micheli has, as the kids like to say, mad skills. The Gala Apple Soufflé ($16) was at once light in texture and deeply, intensely appley. The homemade vanilla ice cream that sat beside it was a celebration of all that bean’s many possibilities, nearly blinding in its fullness of flavor. The Pear Clafoutis ($16) was not a clafoutis in the traditonal sense—that is, it was not a pancake-like custardy cake—but, unlike the Lobster Thermidor, the distance between what it was and what I thought it would be was exciting and enjoyable. I was delighted to find that the caramel “croustillant,” on top did not shatter when I sliced my spoon into it, but rather cut obediently with the rest of the well layered structure beneath it. The lavender honey ice cream was a gentle whisper of tastes, intelligently chosen alongside the pear and caramel. What dessert had that dinner lacked at times was a willingness to go far enough with flavor, rather than stopping short of what could—or should—have been.
On the whole, this is a good restaurant—but just good. Like a teacher with higher standards for her more capable students, I expect nothing short of excellence from Ducasse. Perhaps with time, imperfections will be ironed out and we will be regaled with an experience that is as Michelin-constellation-worthy as its predecessors.