Alain Ducasse au Plaza Athénée
Two walls of the recently re-vamped Terrace room are covered in thousands of green silk buttons that echo the trees and shrubbery just beyond the large windows, which look out over Park Lane and Hyde Park. Far-apart tables (there are a maximum of 80 diners) are set with napery, cutlery, and china that whisper luxury. There's a sculptural fiber-optic curtain of light where the diminutive dance floor used to be. And if you can get to see the kitchen...it's a thing of beauty. Still the food, presided over by Jocelyn Herland, formerly of Ducass's Paris restaurant, manages to take precedence over the surroundings. The blissfully restrained, contemporary French cuisinecombines with perfect British ingredients. Among the beneficiaries of this approach are the squid bonbons with crisp green vegetables - thumb-size portions of pearly squid encompassing a deeply satisfying stuffing that includes its tiny tentacles; a perfectly poached breast of Landes chicken in spectacular sauce Albufera, whih gets its smoky note from the incorporation of foie gras; and his famous dessert star of fresh raspberries, edible silver, and chocolate.