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Gavin Convery

Le Cinq in the George Cinq

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Sorry for the late reply Phil,

Yes there are some great moments here. My problem with such inconsistencies is the price at which they come, and the fact that it is in Paris. In this city one can each better and more consistently better food in a large number of restaurants, therefore I will give it quite a bit of time until I will go back.

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Le Cinq is a new but old (experience) for me. Even though I’ve been visiting Paris every other year recently, I have never visited this grand restaurant. Yet, as I entered the restaurant, I’m familiar with some aspects: I ate at Christian Le Squer’s Ledoyen before, in fact twice - hence, I also somewhat recognized nearly half of the dishes in the menu. Moreover, I saw Patrick Simiand (a former restaurant director of Ledoyen) leading the dining room that evening.

 

Initially, I was convinced that I would order the degustation menu here. Unlike in Ledoyen, the tasting menu is not exclusively about Le Squer’s classic all the time such as langoustine with ‘mayo’, turbot with potato, sweetbread as well as the grapefruit dessert. Somehow, as I reached the restaurant, I did not feel too hungry and was a bit tired. Thus, I went for a la carte. After learning the menu, I could not find new stuffs I really wanted to try. I went for relatively safe choices and they turned out well

 

-Being a Breton chef, Chef Le Squer was really good in cooking seafood. So, for my ‘appetizer’, I had blue lobster with creamy coral emulsion. The well-executed lobster was tender and flavorful. The creamy sauce was somewhat tangy and lingering pleasantly in my palate. This dish also had some vegetables on the side. I wish the staff would pour only half of the sauce, and put the rest on the table (see the picture, then you will understand what I mean)

-I hardly repeat having any dish especially for an a la carte when dining at a high end restaurant. But since I could not see any appealing new dishes by Le Squer, so I ordered his signature dish again: Spaghetti timbale with ham and morels. It has always been a superb dish and that night was no exception! Delicious ingredients, impressive sauce (black truffle + veal reduction), and beautiful presentation. Everything simply worked together in harmony. I think this spaghetti nest was one of the best dishes in the entire Parisian world of haute cuisine

 

Dessert and (pre-dessert) was also really good here but the mises en bouche were forgettable. The hospitality was professional though nothing truly special about what I experienced. However, I was impressed with how my maître d’ handled diners next to me. Although based on my observation and how I saw the husband’s expression, the staff was not really wrong – he never blamed the madame and did his best to communicate with the kitchen to solve the issue and fulfil her wishes. Too long to tell all; essentially the wife wanted to create her own tasting menu in which for each serving is half portion divided by 2 (yes, you’re right if you think it was ¼ portion or smaller per person)

   

Do I need to say about the opulent dining room? Well, plenty has been said and you can see a picture with the description below. While my meal here might not reach the high of the previous meals at Ledoyen, given that Le Cinq opens 7 days a week and Sunday is Christian’s off day, it’s a very satisfying meal. My 2 a la carte dishes were fantastic. I think I will return here … someday

 

Pictures of the meal: https://www.flickr.com/photos/7124357@N03/albums/72157682233271833/with/35303633516/

 

 

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Ledoyen under Christian Le Squer was one of my favorite fine dining places in Paris. After having moved to Le Cinq, I only visited once. The good thing about being the flagship restaurant of Four Seasons, Le Cinq opens 7 days a week for both lunch and dinner. I arrived in Paris on the early evening – I liked coming to Paris on Sunday as the traffic was usually milder. I didn’t reach the restaurant until approximately 9 PM and given the hotel’s international reputation, Le Cinq was already nearly full with a balanced number of diners between locals and foreigners. Since it’s already ‘late’, I was thinking to go for the a la carte though the maître d’ kindly informed me that ordering the 8-course (cheese was additional nowadays) of Epicurean escape was still possible.  

 

After having done this ‘passion / hobby’ for more than a decade, somehow, I tend to prefer eating dishes in a la carte portion these days. Sometimes degustation menu felt like “mass production” ready-to-wear items vs the “haute couture” of dishes from the a la carte … I know it might not be a good (food fashion) analogy 😉 anyway, I was impressed with the following things I ate (this dinner took place more than half-year ago by the way):

 

-plump, juicy and sweet grilled scallops served with salsify, other root vegetables (texture contrast with the scallop) and earthy black truffles – typical of a simple but delicious dish utilizing Winter ingredients

-superb & delectable Turbot with tender flesh was cooked a la plancha. It was ‘creatively’ accompanied by smoked mustard, watercress and pear. This dish was not as complicated as Le Squer’s classic of Turbot with ratte potatoes, but by no means inferior

 

-the most intriguing dish for my dinner was the puff pastry brioche containing cooked black truffle and duck liver … meticulous execution, top quality produce, burst of flavors in the mouth - in short outstanding! The closest to the Bernard Pacaud’s ‘perfect’ feuillete bel humeur. Cannot help to make some comparison:

 

Pacaud’s: the foie gras was sandwiched in-between by the Périgord truffle, the black truffle sauce was coarser and in lesser amount, the salad was in small portion as an intermezzo (perhaps)

Le Squer’s: only one layer of thick black truffle was paired with the duck liver, the black truffle sauce below was more liquid in the form of ‘common’ sauce / jus in French cooking, the salad could act as its own dish with a mountain of black truffle shavings

 

Different ways to “carve” the puff pastry but both were fragrant and buttery with the right texture and thickness. Which one better? Incredibly hard to answer … quality wise, perhaps Ambroisie one was winning by a tiny margin … however, the one at Le Cinq gave better value for money as in “cheaper” and you would notice “more generous” truffle shavings

Not clear enough? Just see and compare yourself from my reviews and / or pictures.

 

The most ordinary thing I ate for this dinner was the dessert – light cheesecake meringue with fresh herbs & cream as well as refreshed berries. Next time, maybe I should just stick to the Christian’s classic creations such as the grapefruit sweet.

 

Service was professional and friendly. Staffs got used to handling and facing international clients. I felt comfortable in spite of not knowing any of them … Patrick Simiand was the only one I recognized in the past but I heard he’s already retired. The dining room with high ceiling and facing the courtyard was grand. The flowers were probably the most elegant among any dining room’s decoration in the whole Europe. Lastly, the food was as good as my best meal during Le Squer’s glorious days at Ledoyen. And it’s achieved even when Christian himself was not around (Sunday is usually his resting day) and executed by his most trusted man – Romain Mauduit, with whom Le Squer has been working together for at least 10 years.

 

The best thing about Japanese top restaurants is that you will see the chef-owner all the time (the establishments were often closed if the head chefs could not be present). The great thing about French gastronomy places is the system with strong & trusted no 2 or 3 (chef de cuisine or sous chef) that would allow the restaurant to still perform at high levels even though the head chef sometimes is not available. Another restaurant in which I experienced the “absolute” 3-star level meal during the last Winter trip. With Epicure and Le Cinq … well, who said that you could not eat well on Sunday in Paris?  

 

Pictures of the meal:

Le Cinq Paris 2 - Christian Le Squer

More detailed review: https://zhangyuqisfoodjourneys.blogspot.com/2019/08/le-cinq-christian-le-squer.html

 

 

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I love your reviews, though I'll likely never get to most of these places. 

 

Thanks.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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