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Gavin Convery

Le Cinq in the George Cinq

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A glorious spring day in Paris as we arrived by Eurostar at the Gare du Nord. A short 20 min taxi ride through the Place de Concorde and up the Champs-Elysee to the Hotel Georges V.

We arrived early for our 1pm lunch, so went to the Bar for a couple of Kir Royale's (celebrating my friend's 50th). The bar was comfy with leather sofas done out a bit like a library. A french couple and child tucked in to the Hamburger and french fries (freedom fries?!?). Finishing our Kir Royales, and indicating that we were eating in the restaurant , the waiter followed us to the restaurant to add them to the bill.

Le Cinq is located on one side of a central courtyard decked out with large pots but fairly bare other wise. The room itself mixes classic over the top french Louis the something style with some modern touches - the huge flowers (more like bushes) in oversized glass vases. The seats are soft and you feel a bit low down in relation to the table. The table for two is wide so not made for intimate conferring. Plenty of room for food and wine though. :biggrin:

Perusing the menu, we received a plate on which was resting a spoon on which rested a round of smoked duck wrapped around a creamy (cheese?) filling then some miniature choux buns filled with spinach and cream cheese - nothing too special...

As this was a special occasion, we chose the menu degustation - 9 courses for 190Euros. We requested that the sommelier match wines by the glass to each course - this they happily agreed to although there was no mention anywhere that this could be done.

- Watercress soup with a watercress cream and sevruga caviar. Sancerre Nuance 2001 V. Pinard

The deep green soup was in a small terrine, the waiter scooped the watercress cream with the caviar on top into the soup. This was delicious, deeply flavoured, the warmth of the soup contrasted with the cool of the cream and the textures of the caviar and other elements complimented each other. The wine was a fantastic match with an aniseedy, grassy nose - one of the nicest Sancerre's I have had in a long time.

- Artichoke Tarte with perigord truffle. Marsala 20 ans de Bartoli

My favourite dish - leaves of watercress on which rested a small pastry circle, then layers of artichoke, truffle finished off with a moussey cream apparently flavoured with red onions; a circle of an onion (?) and truffle sauce. The wine again perfect, picking up the sweet notes of this dish. If I were a vegetarian I could happily eat this for dinner every day of the week.

- Leeks cooked with winter flavours and truffles. Maderia Sercial 1910 Barbeito

The leeks were wrapped round a chestnut stuffing, the waiter spooned over the truffle sauce - taste wise there were similarities to the previous dish, but again delicious. The wine choice was again unusual but picked up the nutty notes from the stuffing. When were finished, the plate was lifted from its base to reveal a consomme onto which had dripped some of the truffle sauce through holes in the plate. It was light and undemanding.

- Scallops poached with lentils and black truffle. Beaune 1er Cru Montrevenots 2000 JM Boillot

A classic sort of dish - lovely sweet scallops, lentils, some finely diced bacon and truffle, a light truffley sauce. Can't argue with that.

- Lobster in its shell, smoked and roasted with Correze chestnuts.

Small pieces of lobster in its shell, gently smoked, the chestnuts matching the sweetness of the lobster, a light creamy sauce. My friend remarked that he doesn't normally like lobster (what!) or chestnuts but loved this dish.

A quick interlude on the service - I had some apprehension that a place of this calibre in Paris might have some snooty attitudes going round. I've been to many 2 and 3 stars outside Paris but rarely inside. However, despite the grandness of the place, I have to say the service was perfect. We were in a celebratory and jokey mood, our waiter (actually more a sub maitre) played along with that perfectly, setting us a quiz to guess the ingredients of one dish, we joked about getting a free meal, he pressed his imaginary quiz master's buzzer when we got it wrong. Sounds a bit laboured when you write it down but it was fun. The sommelier had worked at Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons, so his english was good and he appeared genuinely delighted when we told him we had come just for the day to have lunch at his restaurant.

Back to the food.

- Roasted venison with chocolate and peppered sauce. Cote Rotie 2000 JP Jamet

The venison was on the bone like a lamb chop, covered with a crumbled chocolate coating, the sauce was poured around the venison, there were a few veg, but I don't really recall at this point. This needed some concentration to eat, as all the elements had to be eaten together to get the full effect - it was a grower as I wasn't sure at first but loved it in the end. The wine was a suitably peppery Rhone wine without being outstanding.

- Cheese course

This was the worst, the cheeses just lacked the sumptiousness of well kept cheeses, the portions were generous. Let's pass over that.

- Comice Pear with prunes and jamaican pepper ice cream. Poire 2002 (a kind of sparkling pear wine...what we call perry in the UK)

This was just simply delicious, the pear was poached and had a lovely complexity of flavour. I can't say the pepper stood out in the ice cream...but by this time alcohol was having some effect. :biggrin:

- Irish Coffee prepared as a vacherin. Maderia Malvoisie Barbeito 1900

I think this means like a kind of soft ice-cream. It was as coffeeish as you need, crisscrossed with stick shaped biscuits coated with small pieces of chocolate. Lovely madeira.

By this time we had been there 3 1/2 hours and it was time to get back to the Eurostar terminal. We were well content.

All in all this was an excellent meal, at some points as good as anything I've eaten and other than the cheese course there was littlle to fault. Perhaps not the most cutting edge cooking, but combined with the excellent service, this was a very enjoyable experience that I'd be happy to repeat....although I think my Bank Manager might have a different view.....total cost of the meal was over 700 Euros and it was my treat!

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I enjoyed that, up to a point at least. I wish I could honestly say I'd prefer to have the 700 euros in my pocket, but your report triggers a kind of envy that a story about someone who found 700 euros in the street would not. I'm intrigued about the wines, especially the Marsala and the Madeira with the savory courses as well as the Sancerrre with the soup. I also found the continuation of ingredients watercress and truffles interesting. It sounds as if they were a nice progression in the meal as a whole rather than a repetition. I could be wrong, but I sense a subtle flow. Was the Beaune also served with the lobster?

On the whole, I haven't found the service in Paris to be stuffy. Sometimes it's a bit reserved and those who come to the restaurant a bit uncomfortable leave feeling the same way, but I often suspect it's more their projection. It's probably true that there's a bit less formality in the way diners are treated. It's almost as if the French have had lessons from Gramercy Tavern. :biggrin: These things are hard to judge. As I get older the waiters seem to get younger and one might expect a more formal treatment, yet I sense a more relaxed style, so it must be changing in that direction. Then again, I don't eat in three star restaurants with enough regularity offer an opinion with much conviction.

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Let me hasten to add that I wouldn't normally spend this sort of money if I could possibly help it. But it was my best friends 50th birthday so an exception was made.

As to the wines, they were intriguing and all the more enjoyable in that I wouldn't have chosen them - but they had obviously been carefully thought about as nothing grated. We did have the Beaune with the lobster as you guessed.

The progression of the meal was good and as you spotted there were certain common ingredients dotted throughout at least the first part of the meal, namely truffles, chestnuts and a kind of sweet theme in that the artichoke tart, leeks, scallops and lobster all had a certain sweetness to them, hence the marsala and madeira. Then you kind of hit the main course which gave a different twist.

I thought they had a simpler set menu at lunch but couldn't see one, but maybe if you asked one would be forthcoming.

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Gavin

That was great report and things certainly seem better than when I was there. Looks like you caught the tail end of the truffle season which is always a plus! In terms of prices, it seems like it was the wine which moved you up on price so severely. I usually end up paying about 600 Euros altogether at these places, but usually just have a glass of champagne and then a pretty nice bottle of something. How did the a la carte prices at the Cinq compare to simialr places in Paris? Has the third star pushed things even higher? It would be good to one day do one of these tasting menus but you need a willing partner!

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JJS,

Indeed this was a no holds barred lunch and normally we'd split the bill. Fortunately my friend prefers tasting menus to a la carte, as I do, as it gives you a chance to try a bit of most things. We have also got into the pairing of wines by the glass to courses having had some successful meals at The Capital and Pied a Terre in London - the Capital is particularly good in this respect.

At least we can remember his 50th by remembering that this was the most expensive meal we have ever had (so far!)

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Let me hasten to add that I wouldn't normally spend this sort of money if I could possibly help it. But it was my best friends 50th birthday so an exception was made.

And let me note that it's far easier to deal with not finding 700 euros in the street than actually putting them out of my pocket. :biggrin: I thoroughly understand the need to do something extravagant at intervals, especially when it involves food. I also find the thought of one excellent meal like that at least as attractive an alternative as a dozen far less interesting and rewarding meals. Economizing on the minor meals in several ways will help me afford that extraordinary experience and forgoing lobster for skate or monkfish and drinking easy wines in lesser restaurants is fair trade off. We're good cooks and willing to eat chicken at home more often to afford lamb or pigeon prepared by great chefs. Of course I wouldn't mind spending a year or two researching the answer to the question of whether or not I'd appreciate the great meals as much if I were eating them once or twice a week. Maybe I could get a research grant. :laugh:

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Gavin - That was a nice report. I for one like when a chef creates a tasting menu that uses a special ingredient in a few different settings.. It sort of gives the meal an anchor. I also don't think 700 euros is unjustified for 9 courses and wines. Finally, Jamet is one of my favorite Cote Rotie producers but something went wrong in 2000. It isn't the greatest vintage to begin with but some producers made nice wines. Jamet missed the boat for some reason. Too bad they didn't pour you '99 Jamet which is stellar.

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I've 'almost' tried this restaurant on several occasions and

now will certainly make it a destination. Thanks for the

report,Gavin.

I am familiar with watercress soup...but what is watercress

cream?

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We anticipated w. pleasure our first visit to Le Cinq, the eponymous

restaurant of Hotel George V. The hotel is grand and if you love dramatic

flower arrangements, you are in for a treat. [There were bowls of floating

lavendar orchid blossoms & tall vases of long stemmed hydrangias.]

The diningroom is a grand salon..high ceilings, rich appointments

in furnishings. The widely spaced tables glisten w. china, crystal and

silver.

Service personnel are numerous and everywhere...effusive, if not cloying.

We did not find this restful as multiple personnel inquired re: wine, menu,etc. Our 'head waiter' lauded each dish and inquired if we enjoyed it...but he had a run on sentence..."Did you enjoy it..excellent..thnak you" but my husband hadn't even opened his mouth.

There were 2 amuses....the first, an elaborate spoon, resting on silver tray, filled w. a bland mousse and a sliver of avocado; the second, a petite tian of

tuna tartare w. curry sauce. Neither was notable. They then brought a slice of bread which seemed to resemble italian bread. They called it "special" bread . With great ceremony, they poured 'special' olive oil in a dish, for dipping.

It didn't taste any different than what's routinely offered in northern-style italain restaurants in NJ!

Starters: My husband ordered the crab charlotte w. asparagus. The presentation was v. attractive, but the taste bland. perhaps we prefer Maryland crab to spider. I had the 'special salad' of greens w. truffle...not interesting.

For main course, we ordered one of Le Cinq's "special" signature dishes,

the chicken and lobster cooked in a pot sealed in pastry dough. This is

brought to the table, lid unsleaed, chicken breast carved and lobster added.

Pleasant tasting. The legs are returned to the kitchen for additional cooking

and presented in a 2nd course w. a small salad.

We passed on dessert. They brought their cart of [only a few] entremets...nougat, chocolates. I thought that this was far inferior to other

3 star offerings.

We were disappointed and underwhelmed....and found our experience in contrast to our earlier excursions to Le Meurice and Le Grand Vefour.

BTW, the prices were so beyond the pale that you should bring a portable oxygen tank!

Has anyone else dined there recently? I would be interested to learn of

your experience.

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I am in Paris in three weeks for business. In past years I've rewarded myself from annual driving trips through Europe with visits to a two or three star-solo-to cap the conclusion of the trip. I like Schwarzwaldstube in Baierbronn, also Bareiss. Over the years I've been to a half dozen three stars in Paris but have not yet been to Le Cinq. When I couldn't get a reservation at the German restaurants Paris and Brussels became primary choices. To my surprise I was able to get into Le Cinq with three weeks notice.

Has anyone been? My expectations are for the highpoint of a trip that is otherwise all business and truly exhausting despite what it may sound like. I would note that I did not visit Taillevent when he was there.

I'll do whatever tasting menu is offered; but is there any signature dish that I should look for?

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I had lunch at Le Cinq a couple of years ago. Very expensive and very refined. An amuse of white bean puree with black truffles was wonderful - the chef really understands what truffles are for. A tuna steak of absolutely stellar quality was served raw on the inside, on extremely soft fennel slices and a wonderful eggplant caviar. A touch of real caviar and a simple nage finished it off. Great dish. Pigeon was uninspired and dessert was average. Petit fours were traditional and excellent. Service was astounding, very very slick. The sommelier set me up with a Vaqueyras that I thought was a good, reasonably priced choice.

The room is gorgeous and the courtyard near it is even better.

Overall, I had a good time blowing 120 euros on lunch there. For dinner, I'd rather go to Gagnaire/Le Meurice/L'Astrance/Arpege, or some other more cutting edge place. When I go back and do lunch again, I'd like to see if Le Meurice is open for lunch.

Bon Degustation

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I had lunch at Le Cinq a couple of years ago. Very expensive and very refined. An amuse of white bean puree with black truffles was wonderful - the chef really understands what truffles are for. A tuna steak of absolutely stellar quality was served raw on the inside, on extremely soft fennel slices and a wonderful eggplant caviar. A touch of real caviar and a simple nage finished it off. Great dish. Pigeon was uninspired and dessert was average. Petit fours were traditional and excellent. Service was astounding, very very slick. The sommelier set me up with a Vaqueyras that I thought was a good, reasonably priced choice.

The room is gorgeous and the courtyard near it is even better.

Overall, I had a good time blowing 120 euros on lunch there. For dinner, I'd rather go to Gagnaire/Le Meurice/L'Astrance/Arpege, or some other more cutting edge place. When I go back and do lunch again, I'd like to see if Le Meurice is open for lunch.

Bon Degustation

Really appreciate your taking the time to respond. Thank you.

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Joe, I enjoy your posts on the Italian board. I haven’t yet eaten at Le Cinq, but there are several well-known dishes that you may consider ordering:

- Tartare of scallops and oysters topped with caviar. (I believe that in season, Legendre serves this appetizer with black truffles as well).

- Legendre’ s signature Bresse chicken and lobster roasted in a sealed casserole.

- His much talked-about wood-smoked Breton lobster served in its shell in a morel sauce. (There could be some variations on this dish based on the season, for instance smoked Breton lobster roasted with chestnuts and ceps.)

- Line-caught bass (Bar de Ligne en Peau aux Epices et à l'Escabeche, Huile aux Agrumes)

- Milk-fed veal chop sautéed with capers (Côte de Veau de Lait Fermier Poêlée aux Câpres de Pantelleria). You may be told to taste veal without capers first and add them later.

- Legendre was known for his game while at Taillevent, but from what I understand, you won’t be traveling during game season.

The latest report on Le Cinq is mixed (read vmilor’s excellent post), but I wonder whether there is indeed a way to experience Legendre’s cuisine at its best; therefore, I’ll also give it a try on my next visit to Paris.

Please do report back on your return.


Edited by lxt (log)

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Joe H. You're a connoisseur so I would earnestly look forward to your report on a visit to Le Cinq. I did try it for lunch a couple of years ago. Lunch prix fixe was 60 euros plus 12 euros for accompanying wines. The food was mediocre. The sommelier came over to discuss the selection (impressive indeed ) and when we discovered we had the same tastes, I ended up with freely refilled glasses of excellent crus. Worth at least 50 euros by itself. Only similar experiences on wine were at Cracco-Peck in Milan and Canoviano in Tokyo. Food at both of these places top notch, too

I rate Legendre, based on Taillevent, as not as strong as Wohlfahrt. I stayed at the Traube-Tonbach a few years ago for a few days . Their breakfasts were superb. I ate at their several restaurants, twice in the Schwarzwaldstube. The other restaurants were several levels lower. Never tried Bareiss.

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These are really interesting posts. I have a great deal of respect for Vmilor and his opinions. He is also a superb writer and his taste and values tend to approximate mine form the restaurants we've both been to.

Pirate, your thoughts are also extremely interesting. You are one of the few people I know that has been to Schwarzwaldstube and also several of the Parisian three stars. Traube Tonbach and Bareiss are both extraordinary escapes, almost bargains in relation to a similar resort/restaurant in France or Switzerland. My wife and I, after a six month wait, dined at Scwarzwaldstube last September. It was fantastic. Bareiss, based on two visits, is also.

To be honest I have not been to L'Astrance but I have also not been able to get a reservation for dinner there either. (Lunch is impossible because of my business.) I've tried to get in perhaps a half dozen times over the past several years. After Pirate's and Vmilor's experiences I will probably pick up the phone every day for the next two weeks and try it again.

Schwarzwaldstube and Le Calandre (we were there for the sixth time in five years last December) are two of my favorite restaurants on earth. A prix fixe half of the Parisian three stars allow both to seem even better.

Thanks to both for your thoughts. Much appreciated.

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Joe, I enjoy your posts on the Italian board.  I haven’t yet eaten at Le Cinq, but there are several well-known dishes that you may consider ordering:

- Tartare of scallops and oysters topped with caviar.  (I believe that in season, Legendre serves this appetizer with black truffles as well).

-  Legendre’ s signature Bresse chicken and lobster roasted in a sealed casserole.

-  His much talked-about wood-smoked Breton lobster served in its shell in a morel sauce. (There could be some variations on this dish based on the season, for instance smoked Breton lobster roasted with chestnuts and ceps.)

- Line-caught bass (Bar de Ligne en Peau aux Epices et à l'Escabeche, Huile aux Agrumes)

- Milk-fed veal chop sautéed with capers (Côte de Veau de Lait Fermier Poêlée aux Câpres de Pantelleria).  You may be told to taste veal without capers first and add them later.

- Legendre was known for his game while at Taillevent, but from what I understand, you won’t be traveling during game season.

The latest report on Le Cinq is mixed (read vmilor’s excellent post), but I wonder whether there is indeed a way to experience Legendre’s cuisine at its best; therefore, I’ll also give it a try on my next visit to Paris.

Please do report back on your return.

I've printed your post and will take it with me. As I noted in my post above I will probably, based on Vmilor's and Pirate's report try-again-to get into L'Astrance. Assuming that I cannot I will go to Le Cinq. Thanks again for the time and effort. Much appreciated.

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Joe, I enjoy your posts on the Italian board.  I haven’t yet eaten at Le Cinq, but there are several well-known dishes that you may consider ordering:

- Tartare of scallops and oysters topped with caviar.  (I believe that in season, Legendre serves this appetizer with black truffles as well).

-  Legendre’ s signature Bresse chicken and lobster roasted in a sealed casserole.

-  His much talked-about wood-smoked Breton lobster served in its shell in a morel sauce. (There could be some variations on this dish based on the season, for instance smoked Breton lobster roasted with chestnuts and ceps.)

- Line-caught bass (Bar de Ligne en Peau aux Epices et à l'Escabeche, Huile aux Agrumes)

- Milk-fed veal chop sautéed with capers (Côte de Veau de Lait Fermier Poêlée aux Câpres de Pantelleria).  You may be told to taste veal without capers first and add them later.

- Legendre was known for his game while at Taillevent, but from what I understand, you won’t be traveling during game season.

The latest report on Le Cinq is mixed (read vmilor’s excellent post), but I wonder whether there is indeed a way to experience Legendre’s cuisine at its best; therefore, I’ll also give it a try on my next visit to Paris.

Please do report back on your return.

I've printed your post and will take it with me. As I noted in my post above I will probably, based on Vmilor's and Pirate's report try-again-to get into L'Astrance. Assuming that I cannot I will go to Le Cinq. Thanks again for the time and effort. Much appreciated.

Well, it's now the next morning and I've called L'astrance without any luck. Even for lunch (I would have taken my client if they were available.). Not even for the waiting list with three names. I've been trying to get into this place for three years and still haven't been able to. My problem is that my trips to Europe usually come on less than a month's notice, often just a week or two. L'astrance doesn't work for something like this.

Thus, it's Le Cinq.

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Joe, we chatted with Christophe Rohat, Maitre d’ and Barbot’s business partner, after our meal at L’Astrance regarding the difficulty in making a reservation for dinner. Unfortunately, the restaurant is small (Barbot’s plans for the future, per our discussion, did include expanding the restaurant; I wonder whether the quality will suffer), and the current rate of demand exceeds M. Rohat’s ability to accommodate everybody. However, M. Rohat hinted that more often than he would prefer tables reserved by international guests end up empty, and he strongly recommended calling the day before or on the same day to inquire of any cancellations.

Last year in May, Barbot started serving only a chef’s menu (which more corresponds to his current stylistic perspectives) for dinner, with la carte still available at lunch time. I’m not sure whether this practice survives, but Barbot lights up when you ask him to cook for you. As Bux mentioned (see my post), Barbot’s cuisine has become slightly more conservative over time. If you do manage to get in, ask for his signature crab-avocado and foie gras-Paris mushrooms appetizers. Both dishes are very well executed and represent the best of Barbot’s style.

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Joe, we chatted with Christophe Rohat, Maitre d’ and Barbot’s business partner, after our meal at L’Astrance regarding the difficulty in making a reservation for dinner.  Unfortunately, the restaurant is small (Barbot’s plans for the future, per our discussion, did include expanding the restaurant; I wonder whether the quality will suffer), and the current rate of demand exceeds M. Rohat’s ability to accommodate everybody.  However, M. Rohat hinted that more often than he would prefer tables reserved by international guests end up empty, and he strongly recommended calling the day before or on the same day to inquire of any cancellations. 

Last year in May, Barbot started serving only a chef’s menu (which more corresponds to his current stylistic perspectives) for dinner, with la carte still available at lunch time.  I’m not sure whether this practice survives, but Barbot lights up when you ask him to cook for you.  As Bux mentioned (see my post), Barbot’s cuisine has become slightly more conservative over time.  If you do manage to get in, ask for his signature crab-avocado and foie gras-Paris mushrooms appetizers.  Both dishes are very well executed and represent the best of Barbot’s style.

Interesting. I WILL call the day before. Two or three times! I would call the day of but if I am able to get in I want to at least give Le Cinq an opportunity to fill my seat-calling on the same day would seem unfair to them. But I really appreciate the advice and will definitely try again before finally giving up. Thanks.

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I had a meal at Le Cinq last fall and really had a wonderful meal there. I was with my wife and the service e and wine was to our liking. The scene is international and the food is safe. The style is creative, but experienced. Taillevent was not founded on poor cooking. This is not the place to experience the best and brightest in Paris, but you will lick your plate if our experience is yours. The room is suave and the flowers are profoundly unique.

We ate at Arpege then next night and the food was more inspired and executed, but the atmosphere was more intimate and less dripping with symmetry and grandure which Le Cinq showed.

Hope this helps.

Nate


Edited by nhconner (log)

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What is Arpage and Tallivantt?

Ooo pretty bad, thanks for pointing that out. It was a late night watching basketball. Also my reference to Taillevent was because of Philippe Legendre.

Nate

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I wonder who is the current sommelier at Le Cinq that is actively around the dining room every night? Is it Enrico Bernardo or Eric Beaumard?

Does anybody ever try the wine and water pairing there (it sounds awkward) since Signore Bernardo, the 2004 best sommelier, did mineral water and wine matching during the competition?

Thanks

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The story is probably that he lost his third star recently and wants to make a fresh start with a new team somewhere else. This had been rumoured for a long time.

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