Inside the stunning Michelin-starred Palace of Versailles restaurant, taking diners back in time with a Louis XIV-style feast – theatrically served by staff in period clothing
- The meal comes courtesy of Le Grand Controle, an exquisite hotel on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles
- Called ‘The Feast’ and created by Alain Ducasse, it features dishes inspired by meals eaten by Louis XIV
- Ted Thornhill is invited to take a seat at one of the coveted tables. His verdict? ‘King Louis would be a regular’
It is one of the most extraordinary dining experiences in France – in one of the most extraordinary places.
Le Grand Controle, an exquisite hotel located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles, built in 1681 by former resident Louis XIV’s favorite architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart – offers guests a spectacular five-course Michelin star “feast” by superstar chef Alain Ducasse, taking them back to the time of the reign of Louis XIV.
Candles flicker as dishes inspired by meals eaten by Louis, aka ‘The Sun King’, are announced theatrically by staff in period costume (complete with stockings and wigs) – then served on beautiful china. I am invited to take a seat at one of the coveted tables. The verdict? Louis XIV would be a regular.
Ted Thornhill sits down at one of the coveted restaurant tables at Hotel Le Grand Controle (above) to experience ‘The Feast’ – a Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse meal reminiscent of a King Louis XIV banquet
Le Grand Controle (above right) is located on the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. It was built in 1681 by former resident Louis XIV’s favorite architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart
Le Grand Controle’s ‘Feast’ is served on beautiful china and the drinks in a beautiful stem. Above is Ted’s table
The dining room is seductively draped in gold paint, thick drapery and twinkling chandeliers and offers spectacular views of the Orangerie gardens
For starters, he would certainly approve of the dining room, seductively smothered in gold paint, thick drapery and twinkling chandeliers and with a spectacular view of the Orangerie Gardens.
And the flamboyance of the gourmet treats served and the service would also no doubt meet with royal approval.
The theater begins almost immediately.
As soon as we indicate that one of the servants prefers fizzy water, he claps with gusto and shouts to a colleague water for the king and queen!’
(Nando’s is not.)
Afterwards, we are served glasses of the house champagne in a beautiful stem and a loaf of rustic Crunch Me bread accompanied by two types of homemade butter – salted and lightly seasoned with Espelette pepper.
The house Champagne is added almost immediately by the sommelier
The picture on the left shows Ted’s amuse bouche, which includes a lovely mini soufflé with a dollop of lemon cream on top. On the right is Ted’s eggs, caviar and salad dressing
After the amuse bouche presented on a silver platter – which includes a lovely mini soufflé with a dollop of lemon cream on top – we are presented with main courses: summer vegetable croustade topped with basil, lobster with a broth of lobster with ginger, red chilli and mint, and my favorite – a kind egg blancmange (made from beaten egg whites and injected with Noilly vermouth) in a ‘salad sauce’, with a generous sprinkling of caviar sitting on the candied yolk in the middle. Plus edible gold leaf to match the paint.
So far so wonderfully decadent.
Next comes turbot with clams and green beans; then pigeon stuffed with pigeon liver; duck foie gras tartine; fluffy potato chips; figs with spice (entremets – small dishes historically served between courses); and desserts – fresh herb sorbet on a block of ice, strawberry Fontainebleau and ‘The King Cake’, vanilla sponge topped with ‘Anais’ strawberries.
The desserts – fresh herb sorbet on a block of ice (left), strawberry Fontainebleau (bottom right) and ‘King Cake’, vanilla sponge topped with ‘Anais’ strawberries
A bejeweled waiter announces the desserts followed by a shout of ‘aux gourmandises du roi!’ (‘for the king’s delights’)
The food is excellent, beautifully prepared and presented. The wine is good enough for any royal taste buds (we especially enjoy the white Chateauneuf-du-Pape from Chateau de Vaudieu from 2020).
And the theatrics are the icing on the cake, the highlight being when a bejeweled waiter appears to announce the courses, strutting between the tables with a large staff as he describes the treats, then knocks the staff to the floor with a shout of ‘aux gourmandises’ du roi!’ – roughly translated as ‘for the king’s delicacies’.
A truly tasty time travel extravaganza.
Full review of Le Grand Controle coming…
Ted writes: ‘The food is excellent, beautifully prepared and presented. The wine is good enough for any royal taste buds (we especially enjoy the white Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2020 from Chateau de Vaudieu).’ The picture above shows the Grand Controle bar
Unique: Le Grand Controle (above) is an ‘extraordinary’ venue, declares Ted