Now on to my dining experience at Le Cinq.
If you have not had an opportunity to stay at the Four Seasons, George V in Paris, I highly recommend going there for a meal or afternoon tea. The hotel is one of the most beautiful Four Seasons properties and they call it the hotel of flowers for a reason. In every corner or nook you will find fresh roses and other flowers in amazing decorations….and this coming from someone who perhaps shares the macho view that flowers and bouquet are overrated.
The room, décor and ambience at Le Cinq is truly amazing. Zagat says “..this is what royalty must have felt like” and they are not kidding. There are 20 ft windows draped in heavy silk. Frescos on the ceiling and flowers everywhere. The furniture seems to be in a Louis XVI(?) style and the chairs are very comfortable.
To start, I was offered a selection of Champaign and I choose a Rose, which was excellent and worth the 30 Euro/glass. But I guess you have to forget the price if you want to enjoy yourself. It did come with excellent buttery, cheese twists.
Based on the correspondence with the hotel and the fact that they have my profile in their system (the four seasons is very good about keeping track of their guests likes and dislikes across their properties worldwide), they inquired whether I would be interested in their “light” tasting menu. Mind you, “light” is very subjective and you will soon see why. I was also glad to see that they had some good wines by the glass, so I ordered a 2002 Puligny-Montrachet
The bread I was initially offered was a slice of salt-free white bread
. One might think that is very odd for a classic French restaurant, until the waiter pours some Tuscan olive oil
from a carafe and invites you to dip the bread in it, which I willingly comply with. I have never tasted such an olive oil so full of flavor and complexity. The fluffy white bread was a perfect carrier for this amazing oil as it slowly dissolved in your mouth, releasing the oil’s aroma and leaving a slightly grassy, pungent, peppery flavor on your tongue.
Next were 2 amuse bouches – the first was goat’s milk cheese wrapped in a thin slice of zucchini and topped with a pimento pepper
(pictured next to champagne above) . Amuse Bouche # 2 was a thin Canoli like shell, filled with a puree of chestnut, cepes and truffle
. I was also presented with other bread such as baguette, bread with lardon and country bread, with unsalted and salted butter. I wish I could get such great mini baggets locally. The crust was not too thick and had a nice crunch, while the inside was filled with air pockets and chewy.
The first course was “Risotto” of eggplant with Cepes (porcini)
and a few olives. The eggplant was fantastic, not only in taste, but especially in texture. It really did have the texture of a slightly soft arborio or bomba rice.
Next, was Pan Seared Scallops Root Vegetables and Cream Sauce
– The sweetness of the scallops complemented the excellent cream sauce.
Wider shot of plate
For the next course I had a choice between Veal in Lobster Sauce with Carrots and Artichoke
or Pigeon in truffle sauce. Since I already had pigeon the night before, I chose the veal and requested that it be prepared the way Chef prefers to which the head waiter quickly responded – pink ! and gave a smiled. This was a good choice for the sauce alone. The veal was well cooked (a tad bit stringy), but I loved the lobster sauce, which the waiter came over with some extra and poured over the meat. The bread stick like thing resting on the "lobster sausage" was a piece of what I will call "french toast".
By this time I was convinced that someone was playing a joke by calling it a “light” tasting menu.
Next came the Formage cart. Don’t ask me to name them all, but I did get a selection of cheeses with the help of my very friendly waiter. I forgot to take a picture of the cheese on my plate.
Now for something that gives this restaurant that little extra (in addition to the personalized china, etc) which probably contributed to the 3 stars. They exchange your napkin used for the meal with a smaller one more appropriate for dessert. To “get you in the right mood”.
Then came the pre-dessert, a “minestrone” of fruit
. Hard to describe the texture and taste of the cake, but it was dense outside, soft inside and felt like it had dates. The fruit was mango and pineapple.
Then came a Passion fruit crème brulee
on top of mango, pineapple and passion fruit. Sorry for not having a picture of it, I can’t believe I did not capture it.
Next, I was presented with a drink menu of coffee (Gand Cru Blue Mountain), Chocolat Choid (hot chocolate), Aperitifs, etc to which I selected the Chocolat Choid
. A few moments later came the dessert cart. I was full, but couldn’t pass up on the opportunity to taste their rendition of my favorite sweet, marzipan, along with kitchen made marshmallow and some chocolates. They even pour you a special mineral water (poured in the glass with the blue tint in the picture below) to “energize you” after the lunch. For those who don’t believe that water can have different tastes, I challenge you to try this one. If you can taste the different between Fiji and tap water, this is another quantum leap.
Two hours later, I was glad the meal came to an end and thankful to have such a great experience. I have been to many restaurants, some more expensive, but none came as close to a perfect dining experience as the one I had at Le Cinq. The wait staff were charming, polite, appeared out of nowhere like magicians and moved with a grace of dance professionals. The head waiter noting that I enjoyed food even gave me a complimentary copy of Les Grande Tables du Monde.
I have been thinking about the food, the service, the décor, the ambiance…what would I change? How can they improve? And nearly 24 hrs later, I can’t think of anything but trival, minute things. I have an overwhelming amount of good things that come to mind. A new bar has been set.
In summary, this restaurant has reinstated my trust in the Michelin guide and is truly a bargain when compared to the other 3 star restaurants.
Edited by percyn, 13 November 2006 - 06:36 AM.