Alain Ducasse is a chef whose influence on modern cooking has been enormous, if perhaps not quite as immediately apparent as that of chefs such as Ferran Adria, or Rene Redzepi, Ducasse, did serve vegetable-only menus long before Alain Passard, and championed local produce ever since he took over at the Louis XV in the late 1980s. Many of the concepts, and ideas he introduced are now common-place. His top restaurants in Monte-Carlo and Paris are some of the very best in the world, and we have had the privelege to eat meals of breathtaking quality at both of them.
Naturally, when you have a chef of the stature of Ducasse come to Japan, you expect the combination of rigour, and stunning produce to result in inspirational food. Unfortunately, however, Beige in Tokyo does not quite deliver.
The room is elegant, the service professional, and the cooking technically impeccable. The desserts show this, and are, as often the most convincing part of a meal at a Ducasse restaurant. For some reason, every single Ducasse restaurant has a remarkably competent pastry team. The carré Chanel, is essentially a twist on the famous Louis XV served in Monte-Carlo. A delicate, perfectly balanced mixture of crunch, airy mousses, and glossy glacage make this a solid-3* dessert.
And yet, the most dishes here seem to be produced by an uninspired kitchen, and rely on produce that are not on par with what you are served in the top restaurants around the city. Beef is served with a gratin of pumpkin, and its cooking juices. Both are done well, and the sauce is very good. They cannot really be faulted on the technical level. The problems are the quality of the beef, which is mediocre (when compared to what is served at other French restaurants in the city), and the lack of a connecting element between the two on the plate.
Even less inspiring is a starter of chicken, and foie gras. A little bit of pan-fried foie gras is served alongside lukewarm chicken, jelly, and a few salad leaves. This is a dish that feels even more disjointed. There is absolutely nothing there that makes you see the connection between the elements, and the catering department of a big hotel could have served the dish.
Anyone coming to Tokyo and eating at Beige expecting a meal that combines Ducasse’s brilliant food with stunning Japanese produce will be bitterly disappointed. We admire Mr. Ducasse’s food more than most people, but the quality delivered at Beige is quite simply not up to the standard one can rightfully expect here.