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 setting.
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 He purchased the site of Brasserie LCB, a recently closed 3-year-old Midtown establishment that superseded La Côte Basque, which had been one of the city’s bastions of French cuisine for decades.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