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I'm no longer recommending Le Cinq for lunch (review)

Like so many who vacation in Paris, we think long and hard about where to go for that special splurge where we'll get fantastic food, amazing ambiance, and friendly service. There are countless threads about where to go for the best "value" Michelin starred lunch and I've avidly read them all over and over. For many years, Le Cinq seemed to me, the ultimate place to get it all. We've also been to Guy Savoy, Rostang, and a few 1 stars over the years, but Le Cinq has always been better so we decided we'd go there again for our splurge meal this trip. What a mistake.

The amuses were all really grand, leading us to believe we were in for another great meal.
first amuse: smoked mackerel –parmesan crisp-radish butter sandwich
second amuse: crisp fried prawn heads- whole shrimp steeped in green tea, coconut milk and curry-velout of fresh peas w/ crème fresh. All excellent
Bread service: Simply divine brioche and those fantastic Bordier butters. Oh my!

But then came a downward trend:
Entrees: Oysters, horseradish/ginger tofu, asparagus in puff pastry with asparagus sauce. Sounds good right? Looked gorgeous but the whole dish was terribly bland. Not bad, but simply lacking in flavor. These oysters were so mild they were over powered by tofu. It's pretty hard to be over powered by tofu!
The other entree was foie gras ravioli in spring vegetable broth. There were 3 miniscule ravioli with barely the taste or texture of foie. The broth was flavorful but the "spring" vegetables were root veggies, not what I call spring veggies. I expected peas, asparagus etc.. Again, not bad but what a rip off.
Next things really sank low.
Plates: Red mullet with bone marrow, chorizo, zucchini, peppermint and almonds
Veal kidney with roasted onion, blueberry, gelee, tiny new potatoes au jus

Sadly, these were the only choices on the special lunch menu and neither of these are things that either myself or my husband would order if given any other choice. But we decided that if it's prepared at Le Cinq, it should be good. Nope. in retrospect we should have said we didn't care for either choice and hope that they'd rustle up something else for us but we are adventurous eaters and I really do love most organ meats so I expected to not entirely hate a dish prepared at Le Cinq. But truly, both of these dishes tasted funky. And the kidneys were really tough and chewy. We left half of the entrees on our plates and asked for more brioche.

Pre-dessert: sheeps milk ice cream with cucumber gelee and cumquat and olive tapanade! What's with olives in dessert? I'm sorry but this just did not work.

Desserts: wild strawberries in Fontainebleau cheese, strawberry milkshake, coconut lime sorbet on biscuit
Caramel, pear/ginger sorbet? Vanilla mousse parfait, biscuit and balsamic pears, pear mousse

Fortunately these were both absolutely delicious. And of course the dessert trolley was gorgeous.

This time, it did not feel like good value. Our bill w/ 2 glasses of wine and bottled water was 242E

I think they've now fallen into the category of one of the places that serves a very sub-par menu for the lunch special. I wish we had tried somewhere new as opposed to returning to Le Cinq. Oh well. Live and learn.

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  1. Darn... and I planned to go for my birthday this year (which falls on a sunday).

    Let's hope they just had a bad day when you went, and they didn't fall in the category you mention.

    1. I posted a similarly negative review of my lunch there in December. What I really miss the great value lunch at what IMO was the greatest restaurant in Paris --- Lucas Carton!

      1. That's too bad. I've booked La Grande Cascade for our "pretty" splurge lunch next week. I hope it delivers better than Le Cinq did for you this time.

        1. Funny, my last two lunches there, the amuses were great, the entrees were perfect, as they used ingredients as razor clams l really love. But the plats were things l do not and would not eat regardless of price. Asked whether we could replace the inexpensive pre-fixe( well sort of inexpensive ) with their A La Carte 12 hour spiced lamb shoulder, they said sure and served it to us in two courses, it was unbelievably good. Perhaps it pays to ask as they really want to please you. Granted last time was last November, so maybe things have changed.

          1. Oh no! Do others think this is a trend? I have been lurking on this Board (and other sites) to prepare for our upcoming trip to Paris. We plan to celebrate our 30th anniversary with lunch at Le Cinq on June 6th. Should I switch gears? Our other reservations are for dinners on other days--Neva Cuisine, Dans Les Landes and Chez L'Ami Jean. Thoughts?

            1 Reply
            1. re: cadwex

              Your other 3 choices are great.