Inside the astonishing Michelin-starred Palace of Versailles restaurant that takes diners back in time with a Louis XIV-style feast – theatrically served by staff in period outfits
- The meal comes courtesy of Le Grand Controle, an exquisite hotel in 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’s one of the most extraordinary dining experiences in France – in one of the most extraordinary venues.
Airelles Chateau de Versailles – Le Grand Controle, an exquisite hotel set within the grounds of the Palace of Versailles that was built in 1681 by former resident Louis XIV’s favourite architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart – offers guests a showstopping five-course Michelin-starred ‘feast’ by superstar chef Alain Ducasse that takes them back to the time of Louis XIV’s reign.
Candles flicker as dishes inspired by meals eaten by Louis, aka the ‘Sun King’, are theatrically announced by staff in period costume (complete with stockings and wigs) – then served on beautiful porcelain. I’m 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 in 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 set within the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. It was built in 1681 by former resident Louis XIV’s favourite architect, Jules Hardouin-Mansart
Le Grand Controle’s ‘Feast’ is served on beautiful porcelain and the drinks in beautiful stemware. Above is Ted’s table
The dining room is seductively smothered in gold paint, thick drapery and twinkling chandeliers, and offers spectacular views of the Orangerie Gardens
To begin with, he’d surely approve of the dining room, seductively smothered in gold paint, thick drapery and twinkling chandeliers, and with spectacular views of the Orangerie Gardens.
And the flamboyance of the gourmet treats served up and the service would also, no doubt, receive royal approval.
The theatre begins almost immediately.
As soon as we state our preference to one of the waiters for sparkling water, he claps his hands with gusto and shouts to a colleague’ water for the king and the queen!’
(Nando’s this ain’t.)
Following this we’re served glasses of house Champagne in beautiful stemware and a loaf of rustic Crunch Me bread accompanied by two types of homemade butter – salted and lightly seasoned with Espelette pepper.
House Champagne is deployed almost immediately by the sommelier
Pictured left are Ted’s amuse bouche, which includes a delightful mini souffle with a dollop of lemon cream on top. On the right is Ted’s egg, caviar and lettuce sauce
Following amuse bouche presented on a silver platter – which includes a delightful mini souffle with a dollop of lemon cream on top – we’re presented with entrees: summer vegetable croustade topped with basil, langoustine with a broth of langoustine infused with ginger, red chilli and mint, and my favourite – a sort of egg blancmange (made from whisked egg whites and injected with Noilly vermouth) in a ‘lettuce sauce’, with a generous sprinkling of caviar sitting on the candied egg yolk in the middle. Plus edible gold leaf to match the paintwork.
So far, so wonderfully decadent.
Turbot with clams and green beans is delivered next; then pigeon stuffed with pigeon liver; duck foie gras tartine; fluffy potato crisps; 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 the ‘King Cake’, vanilla sponge topped with ‘Anais’ strawberries
A bewigged waiter announces the desserts followed by a cry of ‘aux gourmandises du roi!’ (‘to the king’s delicacies’)
The food is superb, beautifully prepared and presented. The wine good enough for any royal taste bud (we particularly enjoy the 2020 white Chateauneuf-du-Pape by Chateau de Vaudieu).
And the theatrics are the icing on the cake, the highlight being when a bewigged waiter appears to announce the courses, strutting between the tables with a huge staff as he describes the treats then banging the staff on the floor with a cry of ‘aux gourmandises du roi!’ – roughly translated as ‘to the king’s delicacies’.
A truly tasty time-travelling extravaganza.
Ted is hosted by Airelles Chateau de Versailles – Le Grand Controle. Full review of hotel to come. The ‘Feast’ menu is 280 euros (£250/$270). Wine pairing is 160 euros (£144/$155), ‘exceptional’ wine pairing is 500 euros (£450/$485).
Ted writes: ‘The food is superb, beautifully prepared and presented. The wine good enough for any royal taste bud (we particularly enjoy the 2020 white Chateauneuf-du-Pape by Chateau de Vaudieu).’ Pictured above is the Grand Controle bar
Unique: Le Grand Controle (above) is an ‘extraordinary’ venue, declares Ted