Le Cinq Paris Eng
Alfieri Maserati knew how to create the most beautiful shapes for a car. Mozart wrote incredible music, Hans Eine Kleine Nachtmusik remains, probably, the most famous piece of music. Salvador Dalí created the most beautiful pieces of art I have ever seen. So, what do I want to say with this? Well if we take a piece of each fantastic person above and add them to one single person, and this person have together with his very important team, affected my gastronomic mind to something incredibly good.
It’s not the first time we enter the fashionable Four Seasons Hôtel George V in Paris and its definitely not the last time. I can write for hours about the lightening, the flowers, the art, the colours and the hosting. But it’s impossible to write in words of how fantastic this really is. Everyone is gazing at us, at least that is the feeling when you enter the hotel. And what’s amazing is that everyone who enters has the same feeling. We are being so taken care of from the very first second. It’s something that’s in their blood, service is something they know about in France, (of course there are exceptions but far from here) we are being shown in, thru the foajé, the bar and the dining room for afternoon tea, up to our hostess who welcomes us with a smile…..You do understand what kind of happiness and another amazing experience this day will bring us.
The location of the restaurant, surroundings and interior
Paris is big, really big, but for us gourmands there is nothing that is outside the centre. The restaurant is the centre, it doesn’t matter if the address is 31 Avenue George V, 75 008 in Paris, or Aldura Gunea Aldea, 20, 20 100 Errenteria, Gipuzkoa, in Spain. As I always have said and will, is the place where we will enjoy gastronomy and beverage, is our centre.
The interior well imagines a castle in the fairy tell with all its luxury it can have. There is not a single piece that does not belong there, and each one has its unique place, well maybe not some of the confused tourists in their too short shorts. The lightening is just amazing to watch, how it moves along the time and how the shadows dance around the setting. Sometimes it feels like we are sitting under the bare sky due to the big beautiful windows.
For those who like flowers, have come to their heaven. Every day the big flower arrangements are replaced and set, which means they are always amazing and beautiful with all its colours and the scents, but nothing is too much. I hope the pictures will do the them justice and we can only thank the Artistic Director of the hotel, Jeff Leatham.
The idea of the restaurant and its uniqueness
What’s special with Le Cinq is its total feeling for its guest and it’s so interesting of how the hierarchy of the dining room is working. Its working just perfectly and arranged just the way it should be. The ones with the most experience and knowledge are steering the ship and you can see how the whole team is working all together and united, all together, from the youngest to the one with most experience. I must mention Alberto, this young man who with such a joy and empathy served the bread. To us Alberto will the future be the next Charles (Ass Rest manager). Le Cinq is so alive, so organised (certainly it might happen that someone has taken the wrong position at the table or forgets to brush off the table) but these are extremely small thing that a regular guest will never take notice of.
Service from the very first moment and thru the whole dinner
Here we must tell you our first complaint, and it’s something that annoys us every single time. Everyone is not like us and thank God for that. But how hard can it be to relax and enjoy this show and experience? Just sit back and let them take you on one of the best journeys you can make. This critic is not to Le Cinq as you understand but to some of their many guests. Me myself is studying every single move in the dining room but for many this is just another restaurant visit to get a full stomach. Why let the staff with years of studying and hard work, give these guests their very best experience when they don’t even care to lift their heads from the cell phone for 2 minutes and appreciate what they do for them.
Me, Miss E and Miss W does not visit Le Cinq every day, we do not have the possibility to do that. But for each time we enter this dining room we are looking forward to the perfect gastronomy and an exciting show. Half of the show is what’s going on between the servings. Each sommelier, waiter and manager make us feel like kings and queens. This feeling is something unique for Le Cinq, in other words the service is in perfection. It’s a well-trained way of serving but it never becomes a standard routine that is boring to watch. With the answer in our hands, this is perfection from beginning to an end.
How is the food? The cooking? Any mistakes? Are they working after season, which is something we like to see.
It’s a pleasure to sit back in the comfy chairs around our beautiful table and let us be taken care of. Charles Divay (Responsable Adjoint du Restaurant) tells us what the menu for the day will be and that’s the way it will be. With that said we know that we are in the best hands and will have the very best lunch we can imagine. For lunch you will be served the big tasting menu, it will be both new dishes and dishes we have tried before (and can eat each day for the rest of our lives, that’s how good they are). The dishes in general has raised on step, it feels like each dish has gotten more personality and even more work has been putted down on them. Last time we were here it was top notch, so you might understand how good it was this time and how each dish just blown us away.
We start with a glass of 2004 Charles Heidsieck Blanc des Millénaires. Or to be honest, we had a very tasty drink at the bar before the lunch. A bar that we must enjoy for a bit longer next time, not only for the drinks but also for the interior, the atmosphere and the knowledge behind each drink.
”The Champagne contains Chardonnay from five crus of Côte des Blancs: Oger who gives the concentration and the structure of the wine. Mesnil-sur-Oger who gives balance, Avize for minerality, Cramant for the complexity and finesse and Vertus for the freshness and floweriness. The, as for all of Charles wines, vinification is done on steel tank with malolactic fermentation. Dosage: 9 gr/l”
For the Champagne several Mis es en bouché are served, one tastier then the other. Playful texture, exploding flavours, fresh and crispy. What a start. The bravery and maturity of the Champagne is a true friend with the first servings of this long menu (we sat down for lunch at 12 am and left Le Cinq at 8.30 pm). This time we chose wines from the wine list and we will get back to the list a bit later.
But the first choice was a 2009 Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Premier Cru” La Forest”, a very good choice for the first part of the menu. Mature Chablis from one of our top producers in Chablis can’t go wrong.
The first dish of the menu is a serving we will never forget, a tartar of tomato served with sorbet of sorrel and crispy sticks. We were asked to close our eyes and feel the texture in the mouth, think of the most tender part of the topside that has been cut to a classic beef tartar. This was a total experience of how texture can trick your mind in a very fun way. The sorrel gave a smoothness to the dish with a touch of fresh herbs. This was one of the most exciting and interesting dishes of the year. And believe me, La Forest was perfect with this dish.
Next serving is a classic at Le Cinq, gratinated onion in different textures. A dish that might not have the colours you could wish for, but it is incredibly tasty. The sweetness from the gratinated onion, a bitterness that is just perfect, soft onion who meets the crispness. The dish has a slightly oxidized tone, so with a focused and brilliant sommelier knowledge we are served a classic Madeira av Pereira d´Oliveira from 1985.
”Pereira d'Oliveira is a Madeira Wine producer, independent, run by the descendents of the founding owners, owned by 3 brothers under the administration of Aníbal D`Oliveira and Luís D´Oliveira, who represent the fifth generation of knowledge and experience dedicated to the production, commercialisation and exportation of Madeira Wine. In this company 5 producers of Madeira are integrated, all being from families from the island, with the oldest being founded in 1820. In their warehouses you can find a considerable stock of old rare wines which are the result of valuable wine inheritance of the aforementioned companies, and which currently represent added value for Pereira D'Oliveira wines.”
Everything I taste from the plate I can taste in the glass, but the wine adds a fantastic nuttiness, a nice sweetness and a peaceful and elegant acid. A combination that is just as perfect as duck liver, toasted bread and a big glass of Chateau d’Yquem from 1921.
Sea bream with tomatoes and ginger. A stylish and delicious presentation. The fish, with a specular meat, is cooked to its perfection, when we separate the meat of the fish its shining like pearls and the lamellae are falling like dominos. Charles is serving a compote of tomatoes and the colours on the plate makes it a piece of art. The texture of the fish is very interesting, compact but smooth, you must eat it together with the skin to get the right feeling in your mouth. The tomatoes are exploding like fireworks with all the taste of sweetness, bitterness and the aroma.
We are served a pasta dish as an extra serving and it’s just so amazing. During one of the breaks of the lunch we entered the kitchen and had the opportunity to see how this pasta creation was made. A pretty detailed job which is an art in its self, the craft of this dish is worth a journey in its self. The flavours are artichoke, truffle and pork. The creamy content that shows it self when we cut it in the middle is perfect and the scents of truffle that hits us is like an intoxication.
When the next dish is about to enter we feel that something big is about to be served. A piece of glazed pork with aubergine and fresh herbs. The scents that are spread around the dining room is amazing and we are being served a piece of Asia. The crispy pork is perfect, the sweetness from the glace is wonderful, the aubergine and the herbs are adding some green flavours in a perfect way. Please give us more!
For this dish a bottle of 2015 Saint- Joseph from Jena- Louis Chave has been served. A wine of the best example of the school book of what Rhone can and should produce. A wild pepperiness but with a good balance and sensual fruit. It was perfect with the pork. Despite the young age of the wine (which I missed with four year, embarrassing, and I’m reconsidering to change job) its still big and elegant.
"Domaine Jean-Louis Chave is a fantastic producer located in the northern Rhône, making wine under the Hermitage and Saint-Joseph appellations. Chave's red and white Hermitage wines – based on Syrah and Marsanne and Roussanne respectively – are some of the most important in the Rhône Valley, commanding both high prices and 100-point scores.
The estate has 14.5 hectares (36 acres) of land in Hermitage, making it one of the largest land owners in the appellation. The vineyards were planted when the Chave family arrived in Hermitage in the late 19th Century after phylloxera had devastated much of France. The vineyards were terraced and today cover eight different plots on the hill, providing a range of mesoclimates and terroirs for the Chave wines. Many of the vines are between 30 and 60 years old.
The plots are brought to the winery and vinified separately, to give the winemakers more control over the blending process. Grapes are usually destemmed, and are fermented in stainless steel before being aged for up to 18 months in oak, a small portion of which is new. All of the wines are bottled unfiltered.
Jean-Louis Chave make several wines under the Hermitage banner. The generic red and white Hermitage wines are Chave's flagships, although the range is headed by the Cathelin cuvée, one of the Rhone's most collectable wines. Chave also make a couple of wines from Saint-Joseph and a Côtes du Rhône wine. The Chave family have been growing grapes since 1481, and today the domaine is run by Gerard Chave and his son, Jean-Louis."
Well of course we couldn’t stop ourselves from ordering some complementing bottles despite all the nice wines that we had before. 2009 Domaine Francois Raveneau Montee de Tonnerre, Chablis Premier Cru and 2011 Domaine Francois Raveneau Butteaux, Chablis Premier Cru. Two wines that we hold really high, if not the highest among all the producers of Chablis.
"The domaine holds 9.29 hectares of vineyard land planted entirely with Chardonnay grapevines, in Chablis. The wines are harvested entirely by hand, Raveneau is one of only five estates in Chablis to still use this method. No new oak barrels are used to make the wines. The wines are fermented in stainless steel and then aged in barrels with an average age of seven to eight years, for twelve to eighteen months.
Raveneau owns sections of three Chablis Grand cru vineyards. These holdings are 0.54 hectares in Les Clos, 0.60 hectares in Blanchots and 0.75 hectares in Valmur.
Further land is owned within six Chablis Premier cru vineyards. The largest holding is Montée de Tonnerre, with 3.20 hectares, followed by Butteaux with 1.50 hectares. The other four are Foret with 0.60 hectares, Vaillons with 0.50 hectares, Montsmains with 0.35 hectares and Chapelot with 0.30 hectares. There is also a newly acquired 0.95 hectare parcel of village classified Chablis, on the opposite side of the Vaillons slope. The first vintage from this plot was harvested in 2007".
After a “sweet singing” dish of pork, we go directly to the countries of cheese. Once again, we are blown away with all the knowledge that everyone in the staff has, everything about the gastronomy and now also the cheese. The waggon is rolled in next to our table and another show has started, we tell our sommelier to choose freely among all the cheeses for us. We counted to ten tastings of different cheeses. Every single one has its own story and I don’t have the space to write of each one of them. Our rating of the cheese serving is nothing than standing ovations and we love that something so “simple” can be so amazingly good.
Apricot and vanilla, a light, elegant and perfect pre-dessert. It’s like a version of the classic dessert Pavlova. Genius textures where crispness meets the sweetness and where the smoothness meets the resistance of the fruit.
We have now arrived too the last presentation of the menu and it’s a favourite that will be served. Strawberries and white chocolate. A piece of art and with well-balanced flavours. I often talk allot about textures and it’s so exciting to feel what happens and all the flavours in your mouth. One second it’s so smooth and all of a sudden something pops and another flavour is added. This dessert is like a journey into heaven of gastronomy.
But the lunch is not over yet, once again we enter the kitchen for the” regular” tour and to say hello and thanks to the entire kitchen staff. After that we go back to our table for coffee and treats, a whole lot of good things are served, and you must try them all. And once again we lean back in the comfy chairs, soak in the calmness of the dining room and listen to the classical music. Suddenly we notice that we are all alone in the room, which we understand when we take a look at the clock and realize that we will soon be part of the evening service, time flies when you are having a good time.
But Charles has another thought of how our late afternoon shall be and he has set up a beautiful table at the terraces for us. The staff has decorated the table with flowers and it’s just like to sit down in a dream to enjoy all the luxury. We are sitting at this table for a long time and “accidently” order in some dishes from the one Micheline star restaurant next door to Le cinq, but those dishes will be written about another time.
(How is the wine list? Large, small and pricing. How much is the beverage knowledge of staff and sommelier?)
Sommelier Eric Beaumard has together with his sommeliers, done a fantastic job with the wine list. Here we find everything that a typical guest of Le Cinq can wish for. Of course, it can cost, but if you look at an international market it’s not more expensive here. As a guest at Le Cinq you know that the wine list will have the standard it has, and the price will be after it. What we must mention is that the adding to the prices are not exaggerated but more justifiable. You can find long verticals of classic producers and with over 2500 different labels there will be a wine for everyone.
As said we took bottles this time (we are sorry Charles) but when you find bottles on the list who costs more back home at the local place then at Le Cinq, it’s impossible to resist to have the bottles that you dream of. All the sommeliers are of course coming from the French school and all with a superb humility, we get the best service when it comes to wines. We feel at home at Le Cinq and we know that all the guest who lets them be blown away, do.
(A final review…)
We wrote in the first part about some very important people, what they did for the world in music, art and technology and want to say that the complete piece of puzzle is to bring in gastronomy among this and Chef Christian Le Squer is that piece of puzzle. We must not forget that without Chef Le Squer´s stab, Le Cinq would not be as great as it is today. But we all stand up, applause, bow and shed a tear of pure happiness. You are what we call perfection within gastronomy and service.
Thank you for everything and see you soon, and Franck Painchaud... you are amazing!