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A feast fit for Louis XIV: Contained in the Michelin-starred restaurant within the Palace of Versailles

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Contained in 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 within 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 sit down at one among the coveted tables. His verdict? ‘King Louis could be an everyday’  

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It’s one of the vital extraordinary dining experiences in France – in one of the vital extraordinary venues.

Le Grand Controle, an exquisite hotel set throughout the grounds of the Palace of Versailles that was in-built 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 sit down at one among the coveted tables. The decision? Louis XIV could be an everyday.

Ted Thornhill sits down at one among the coveted restaurant tables in hotel Le Grand Controle (above) to experience ‘The Feast’ – a Michelin-starred Alain Ducasse meal paying homage to 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 (above right) is ready throughout the grounds of the Palace of Versailles. It was in-built 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

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

The dining room is seductively smothered in gold paint, thick drapery and twinkling chandeliers, and offers spectacular views of the Orangerie Gardens

To start 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, little doubt, receive royal approval.

The theatre begins almost immediately.

As soon as we state our preference to one among 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 forms of homemade butter – salted and calmly seasoned with Espelette pepper.

House Champagne is deployed almost immediately by the sommelier

House Champagne is deployed almost immediately by the sommelier

Ted's amuse bouche, which includes a delightful mini souffle with a dollop of lemon cream on top Ted's egg, caviar and lettuce sauce

Pictured left are Ted’s amuse bouche, which incorporates a pleasant mini souffle with a dollop of lemon cream on top. On the proper is Ted’s egg, caviar and lettuce sauce

Following amuse bouche presented on a silver platter – which incorporates a pleasant 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 type of egg blancmange (produced 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 center. Plus edible gold leaf to match the paintwork.

To this point, so splendidly decadent.

Turbot with clams and green beans is delivered next; then pigeon filled 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

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')

A bewigged waiter broadcasts the desserts followed by a cry of ‘aux gourmandises du roi!’ (‘to the king’s delicacies’)

The food is excellent, beautifully prepared and presented. The wine ok for any royal soft palate (we particularly benefit from 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 an enormous staff as he describes the treats then banging the staff on the ground with a cry of ‘aux gourmandises du roi!’ – roughly translated as ‘to the king’s delicacies’.

A very tasty time-travelling extravaganza.

Ted is hosted by Le Grand Controle. Full review of hotel to come back. Menu is priced from 90 to 280 euros (£80 to £250/$87 to $270).

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

Ted writes: ‘The food is excellent, beautifully prepared and presented. The wine ok for any royal soft palate (we particularly benefit from 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

Unique: Le Grand Controle (above) is an ‘extraordinary’ venue, declares Ted

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