Dom Pérignon is not a Champagne house to do things by halves. So while, on this occasion, there was no Lady Gaga to promote the launch of its 2008 rosé, the bringing together of four renowned chefs for a head-turning new pop-up restaurant in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower was no less of a statement. And as it turns out, Gaga might not have made the most appropriate ambassador – at least not in her meat dress…
ADMO is being housed at Les Ombres, on the top floor of Musée du Quai Branly, for 100 days. It is the brainchild of longtime DP collaborator Alain Ducasse, who has brought on board Spanish culinary luminary Albert Adrià along with his own executive chef Romain Meder and pastry chef Jessica Préalpato (the restaurant name is an approximation of the male chefs’ surnames, along with the ‘O’ of Les Ombres) to create what Ducasse terms a new ‘southern European’ cuisine.
‘We’re looking to combine our talents to go beyond what has been done before and show that cuisine transcends borders,’ said Ducasse. Arguably more significant is the fact that, in the week that Daniel Humm, head chef at Claridge’s signature restaurant, resigned after seeing his wish to introduce a wholly plant-based menu rejected, the food at ADMO eschews meat completely, in favour of cereals, vegetables and sustainably fished seafood.
To that end, a sea-bass dish will disappear from the menu in January, when fishing for it would interrupt the fish’s breeding season. Similarly, the Normandy lobster – served with beetroot ‘jus’ blended with wild Provençal berries in an attempt to lend a ‘tannic’ element to the dish – will also need replacing once predatory squids arrive in the lobsters’ waters in winter.
‘If you see Normandy lobster on a menu in the summer, it’s caged lobster,’ said Meder. ‘That’s not something we would use. We use only what nature gives us.’ Local ingredients are also championed, including sea urchin and razor clams from Galicia, sea cucumber from the Saint-Tropez gulf, and vesce – a leguminous plant also employed by Dom Pérignon in its vineyard in place of fertilizer – from France’s Haut-Loire).
The only exception, said Ducasse, is a caviar sourced from China which the chef said was the optimum available. ‘I travelled the world in search of the best, most sustainable caviar because, just like beef, traceability is important when it comes to caviar. But unlike beef, it weighs only 30g.’
So, can luxury fine dining (the seven-course tasting menu, which actually spans 15 dishes, is priced at a punchy €380/£320) still thrive in an increasingly eco-conscious world? ‘Absolutely,’ said Ducasse. ‘The new face of fine dining is about less food but better food – better for our health and better for the planet.’ His mantra, he said, was ‘less fat, less salt and less sugar’ as well as a commitment to what he terms ‘naturality’ – loosely defined as adapting to the constraints of sustainability while preserving seasonality.
One of the world’s most decorated chefs, Alain Ducasse has previously been the holder of 21 Michelin stars, and was the first chef to helm three three-Michelin-starred restaurants in three different cities. Albert Adrià began his career as pastry chef at his brother Ferran’s legendary El Bulli restaurant before setting out on his own path with Barcelona restaurants including the two-starred Tickets. The restrictions of the pandemic forced the closure of all his Barcelona sites earlier this year, with the exception of the high-concept Enigma.
The various dishes on the menu are all presented as joint efforts rather than assigned to individual chefs. As well as the seven-course €380 menu, a €200 five-course version is offered for lunch. A wine pairing supplement of €280 (€180 for five courses) spans a Nanclares y Prieto Albariño from Rías Baixas; the Acústic Cellar Montsant; Sérafin Père et Fils’ 2010 Gevrey Chambertin; and a Fernando de Castilla manzanilla, as well as three servings of the new DP Rosé.
Dom Pérignon initiated and is the main sponsor of the project, and chef de cave Vincent Chaperon was keen to promote its rosé Champagne, in particular, as a food wine. ‘I’ve never understood why food and wine are treated separately in restaurants. Food is integral to Dom Pérignon,’ he said.
Chaperon says ADMO is a vision of what fine dining might look like in the future
As for the 2008 rosé, the Pinot Noir-dominant blend (60-40 over Chardonnay) is noticeably deep in colour – somewhere between a copper- and rose-gold – with a texture that also reflects its make-up. One of the first wines to be made at the brand’s new winery, inaugurated in 2006, with 5g/l dosage, it has been launched three years after the main 2008 vintage release to give it more time to integrate, said Chaperon.
‘Regardless of the vintage, Dom Pérignon rosé is always a challenge,’ added Chaperon. ‘It’s about pushing things further. We’re making what is essentially a red wine in the northernmost winemaking region of Europe. But we like to be radical and this project has given me the confidence to be even more so.’
Asked what he hoped the restaurant might achieve, Chaperon said he felt it was a vision of what fine dining might look like in the future, via the harnessing of ‘collective social emotions’. Ducasse went further. ‘Sharing a meal brings people together, brings conversation, and this is what we try to achieve with ADMO. Fine dining is the foundation on which you can build peace.’