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Jan 21, 2009 03:50 PM

Le Cinq: A Good Experience

George V restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel in Paris is a superb restaurant that offers one of the best dining experiences in the world. Not only is the room elegant, the staff, who really speak English well, are at the top of their profession in terms of doing the job in a manner that makes you feel both welcomed and pampered. The sommeliers (there are 8 of them that alternate, with at least 2 on duty at any time) are among the most knowledgeable I’ve encountered. And the food is, for the most part, simply divine.

As we studied the menu, we were presented with an amuse bouche of the most superb fried calamari I have ever tasted. The crust was as light as the finest tempura batter can make; the calamari was soft and exquisitely textured. I was already in heaven.

We put ourselves in the hands of the sommelier, who was in the process of suggesting some white burgundies that would go with the seafood we’d chosen for our meal. But when we told him that we like condrieus, he immediately said that we must have the 2005 Chateau Grillet from a small area in the middle of the Condrieu (160 Euros). We agreed, and were extremely pleased with the wine.

The second amuse bouche was as wonderful as the first. A rectangular plate arrived. On one side was a perfectly round bite of brioche stuffed with a mousse of what tasted like mushrooms and caviar. It was both sweet and salty, with a texture of polished air. (I know that probably doesn’t mean much, but that is the phrase that came to mind when I felt the crisp yet smooth outside of the brioche and the light, soft mousse.)

With the brioche bite was a jigger of pumpkin soup topped with a sorrel/sour cream froth. The pumpkin was sweet and the herbal tones of the sorrel complimented perfectly. I had wondered whether the brioche would be so individualistic that it would not partner well with the soup. I needn’t have worried.

Our first course was a circle of escarole topped with ultra-thin rounds of raw scallop, each topped with a bit of black caviar. Amid them were strewn what appeared to be tiny clams—in the shape of an apostrophe—that tasted akin to abalone. I forgot to ask what they were. The dish was wonderful with only one downside: the flecks of mango throughout were too strong a flavor for the dish. I was a bit disappointed that the shiso leaf advertised to be in the dish wasn’t there.

Next came a tart that was not so great. An ultra-thin round of pastry was topped with leeks (that tasted a lot like sweet green cabbage) and minced truffles. In the center was a slice of earthy black truffle that it was so good that it put to shame the mince, which was dry and rather tasteless. Served with the tart was a glass of sweet onion mousse with ribbons of sweet basalmic reduction threading throughout. It was outrageously seductive; I wanted more!

For our main, we decided to split the John Dory (125 Euros per person). What a mistake it was. It was very dry; even the velvety sauce aside it could not make the dish shine. I had one bite and decided it was not worth eating. A second bite assured me that my judgment was correct. Although I didn’t complain to the waiter, I was not offered anything else when he saw I wasn’t eating it. The little melon balls and pieces of squid on the side were equally unappealing.

I have been to Le Cinq once before and was delighted, as I was this time for the most part. Most of the meal was outstanding, but the horrible main course gave me pause.

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  1. Inedible entree for 125EU/person? That is a wee bit scary.

    I just don't get how you can say it is good whilst putting down the above statement.

    1. Le Cinq is the name of the restaurant. Four Seasons George V is the name of the hotel, although is is known locally as the George V.

      1 Reply
      1. re: PhilD

        I apologize for my confusion and thank you for your correction.

      2. May I ask what day it was? It seems that the problem with le Cinq is pretty simple -- you need to be sure that Briffard is in. The John Dory is a new dish he's very happy with, especially the cooking. So I'd say that he would not have let a dish like that go.

        1 Reply