Monday, January 7, 2019

Alain Ducasse at Morpheus

Alain Ducasse, a successful chef and restaurateur, is currently the world's most decorated Michelin star chef alive (if not mistaken, he's holding 23 stars). After a while, finally this Monegasque chef opened a gastronomy place bearing his name in Asia around mid 2018. This meant serious business and usually, he would aim for a 3-star award. Under the leadership of Ducasse veteran, Pierre Marty (chef de cuisine), Alain Ducasse at Morpheus (ADM) received two Michelin stars from the latest Michelin guide Macau 2019. I happened to be visiting Macau last Summer and found out about this restaurant. As a fan of Alain Ducasse fine dining institutions, I decided to book the restaurant albeit some doubts given the restaurant would be in operation for just a couple of months.

Ever since Alain Ducasse successfully carried Le Louis XV to become the first hotel-based restaurant winning the three Michelin stars in the early 90's, he has established all of his flagship and top restaurants at elite hotels. This time, Alain Ducasse gastronomy place is located at Melco resorts' main hotel named Morpheus, impressively designed by Zaha Hadid. The hotel structures were free of columns and internal structural support. I found the hotel's exteriors were more amazing its interiors. Whenever possible, Chef Ducasse would make his signature restaurants to be unique and different from the others. The decors for Macau featured hundred of splendid crystal chandeliers in bar-shaped suspended at the ceiling. The falling white lights were supposedly mimicking waterfall. There were plenty large tables, lavish arm chairs / sofa booth and lush carpet - as expected, they're of high quality and immaculate. It could comfortably served 30+ diners.   

As far as the food's concerned, I noticed that (unfortunately) the food at Alain Ducasse at Morpheus was kind of the copy cat of Ducasse Monaco with some Asian influence. Initially, I had been excited if Alain Ducasse would've done something new for the cuisine in his Macau restaurant. The meal began with some canapes: a small basket of barbajuans, some kinds of fried puff pastry that also regularly served at Le Louis XV. These pleasant small bites were stuffed with Swiss chard, ricotta cheese as well as some herbs. Then, there were marinated sea bass on thin rice cracker with seaweed powder; fresh and light. For the bread course, the staff churned the butter from Beillaviere, Loire Valley.

Signature Menu

Mediterranean gamberoni served with delicate gelée and gold caviar - The stunning premium 'raw tiger prawn' was naturally sweet and filled with Riviera flavor. It was enhanced by generous serving of savory Kristal caviar, delicate bouillon of chilled rockfish gelee, and tiny pinch of high quality salt & pepper. It was beautiful and delicious, easily the best dish of the evening. I could not imagine it could be better even when prepared in Ducasse Monaco ...

Steamed duck foie gras served with cherry-rhubarb and toasted brioche - Perhaps to cater the local clienteles, Ducasse decided to have the duck liver steamed. The result was foie gras having more delicate texture and flavor. The more intense taste was derived from the liver's juice and the side dishes - it was solid and less sinful, but I generally prefer the 'pate' style or pan-seared preparation
Line-caught sea bass served with violon courgettes, redcurrant and cooking jus - This (Ikejime) Atlantic sea bass was grilled quickly and then put in the oven. The result was moderately firm fish with delicate taste and slightly dry. Its jus and sauce helped to moisturize the sea bass as well as improve its flavor. With the vegetables as the supporting produce, they made this dish more enjoyable

Saddle and rack of Pyrénées lamb served with raw and cooked artichokes - The lamb (served with its jus) might not look pretty, but it had exquisite taste and texture. The tender meat was complemented by plenty of crunchy / nutty artichokes, piquant capers and a bit bitter arugula. It did not disappoint and I liked it better than the fish

Assortment of French cheeses - The savory cheese (36-month old comte, tomme, blue cheese etc.) was good. It was accompanied by crackers and a few other condiments. The portion was just right

Strawberry and raspberry served with fromage blanc sorbet - The red fruit was not as sweet as I initially expected while the sorbet was creamy with nuanced tart flavor; alright

Coffee and chocolate from our Manufacture in Paris served with toasted buckwheat - A pretty presentation in which all elements were carefully arranged inside the huge cocoa bean pod. There were different degree of bitterness and intensity yet the overall flavor was light and not overly sweet. It has become one of Ducasse classic (chocolate-based) desserts

The dinner ended with chocolate bar filled with buckwheat in the shape of ADM's symbol, sour raspberry granite and some seasonal fruits. If the food principally was "derived from" the Le Louis XV, the key service staffs were led by the former team of Alain Ducasse at Dorchester. For instance, Chris Bothwell (restaurant director) and Romain Chery (assistant manager). Christopher used to be the head sommelier at Ducasse London. Like in many Ducasse fine dining places, the service was impeccable, friendly and attentive - I sneezed once, and immediately the staff brought me a box of tissue. It might seem more formal at the beginning but things went more relaxed as the meal flowed and staffs / diners were more familiar with one another. Most, if not all, staffs were in fact spoke decent English as some of them used to work in Europe. The wine collection was comprehensive and I ordered a few by the glasses. The sommelier also recommended non-French / cheaper wine to pair with the food; I drank wines from Portugal and Germany.

It has been an enjoyable meal for a relatively new restaurant. ADM is certainly a good addition for Macau's dining scene especially with regards to the restaurants serving French cuisine. I like this restaurant better than the Tasting room by Fabrice Vulin. The 2-star awards is justified IMHO. I don't mind returning here should I visit Macau area again in the future. Here are the pictures of my dinner: Ducasse Morpheus Summer '18

Food (and Wine): 94 pts

Service (and Ambiance): 94 pts

Overall: 94/100