It’s hard to believe that a fine French dining establishment would make the decision to go alcohol-free (no wine? Mon dieu!) But for celebrity chef Alain Ducasse, who has 25 restaurants around the world, his latest has opened up in Qatar–in the center of the Museum of Islamic Art–at a tip of the Arabian Peninsula, where alcohol is forbidden fruit. (In Qatar, alcohol is only allowed in hotels for foreigners.)
While the restaurant has only been open for a half a year, something about the formula of alcohol-free fine dining may not cut it in Qatar. According to a recent article in the New York Times, it’s easy to get a reservation at Idam restaurant, and not even a third of the 60 seats were filled one evening in June.
Initially, Christian Julliard, the executive chef under Alain Ducasse was not so sure about this wine-free restaurant idea, but according to the Times article, he’s been won over. “Now after two years of working without wine,” Julliard said, “it’s another vision: more light, you concentrate on the food and not the wine.”
The team at Idam has apparently been doing a lot of research in juice bars in an attempt to come up with non-alcoholic beverage options. Even Ducasse’s sommelier and chef teams in Paris are trying to develop “mocktails” that are tasty enough to compensate for the lack of alcohol.
It’ll be interesting to see how this alcohol-free dining experiment pans out. I don’t know about you, but if I were to drop $200 for a seven-course tasting menu, I might like a sip of something, as they say in France, avec alcool. What about you?