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2008 Private Preview: Setting the Tables

Sheila Gibson Stoodley

Alain Ducasse’s vaunted ability

as a chef might by matched by his flair

for selecting restaurant sites. He soon

will add four establishments to

his ever-expanding empire—two in New York, one

in London, and one in

Paris—each of which will be housed in a notable


Adour is slated for a November debut in Manhattan’s St. Regis

Hotel. It will be Ducasse’s second New York restaurant; he closed the first,

Alain Ducasse at the Essex House (ADNY), in January. Adour, which is named for a

river near the area of southwest France where Ducasse was born, will seat 96 and

occupy the space that once hosted Lespinasse, a legendary restaurant that closed

four years ago. The new establishment will have a less formal atmosphere than

those of Lespinasse and ADNY. You will be able to order a single dish and a

glass of wine, a departure from the multicourse, multihour experiences that ADNY

mastered. Tony Esnault, ADNY’s final chef, will helm the new restaurant.

Wine will receive special attention at Adour. The restaurant

will feature an interactive wine bar that will allow you to research bottles by

summoning tasting notes that will be projected onto the bar’s countertop. Also,

Adour will offer 50 wine bins, storage units that will be capable of holding 12

standard bottles or as many as six magnums and will be available to oenophiles

for an annual fee. Bin renters will receive a range of perks, including help

gaining reservations at Adour, special room rates at the St. Regis, and a

standing invitation to attend the restaurant’s monthly wine director tasting, in

which the director and the sommelier staff sample new bottles that they might

add to the wine list.

Ducasse plans to unveil another Manhattan restaurant sometime

in 2008. He purchased the site of Brasserie LCB, a recently closed 3-year-old

Midtown establishment that superseded La Côte Basque, which had been one of the

city’s bastions of French cuisine for decades. Ducasse intends to remodel the

space as a replica of Benoit, the 95-year-old Paris bistro that he acquired two

years ago.

October promises to be a busy month for Ducasse on both sides

of the Atlantic. In addition to opening Adour, he will debut Alain Ducasse at

the Dorchester, his first fine-dining establishment in England. The 70-seat

restaurant will replace a former private dining room at the Dorchester, the

76-year-old hotel in London’s Mayfair district. In all likelihood, its tone and

menu will resemble that of Ducasse’s Paris flagship, the Plaza Athénée, in Hôtel

Plaza Athénée, which is owned by the same company that owns the Dorchester.

Another new venture is Ducasse’s flashiest. While his French

peers crave locations that have views of the Eiffel Tower, soon Ducasse will

one-up them by moving into the tower itself. In January, he signed a 9-year

contract to operate the Eiffel Tower’s food concessions, including Jules Verne,

a fine-dining restaurant located on the tower’s second platform. He closed Jules

Verne in August for remodeling and will reopen it in December. Such a dramatic

setting will be difficult to top, even for Ducasse. Perhaps he will set his

sights on building a restaurant at that other French-made landmark, the Statue

of Liberty.

Alain Ducasse, www­.alain-ducasse.com

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