Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Le Cinq. 2 stars.

After the magic that Joel Robuchon had pulled the night before, I was feeling pretty cagey heading into my lunch booking the next day. Had I experienced the culinary pinnacle of my journey, or was I jusst feeling cagey as a result of the way too many additional dishes and wines I ordered 12 hours prior? I DUNNO I'M JESUS I CANNOT ANSWER THAT.

Another factor was that I was headed to one of the haute dining palaces, Le Cinq at Hotel George V. How could such a stodgy place possibly come close to matching the vibrancy and excitement of the night before?

Short answer: It wouldn't try to.

Longer answer: It wouldn't try to, so I shouldn't compare apples with oranges.

Longest answer:

Yes, it is a bloody nice dining room. Spectacular. It is pretty much exactly like how you'd expect the restaurant of a top-end Parisian hotel to look. Oh, there were chandeliers. You better believe it.

The staff are everywhere (are there more staff than square metres on the dining floor?) and have the formal dining thing down pat. Every move is polished excellence. From the placing of a dish, the pouring of a sauce and the push of the cheese cart; it's all spot on.

When it came to the food, I wasn't really expecting much. Like I said, last night had to be the pinnacle. And haute dining wasn't really a match for my style. I like it over the top... frenetic... rough. I was prepared to eat their reasonably priced, 3 course lunch menu and call it a day, particularly with last night's meal not entirely digested. But I left it to my dining companion to decide, and we ended up going all out. The summer tasting menu.

And what can I say. It tasted like summer.

From the different preparations of tomato that started things (the side dish, a cone glass filled with 6 different coloured layers, all tomato, was great fun), to the chunk of salmon in a watercress soup with caviar (wow, what a dish, the salmon roe transformed the balance of the dish, rather than playing the role of superfluous luxury that it does at most places), to the rabbit done three ways and finally to the brilliant, brilliant dessert that was some sort of peach or something in jelly with custard and a cookie (put back together to resemble a fruit), it was a fantastic summer experience.

The whole time the staff were perfectly organised, like a pack of vultures, swooping at just the right time. But good vultures. And the recommended champagne from the sommelier was spectacular.

We left happy, carrying the box of toffees that they gave us before leaving. And I think that says a lot about the meal.

It wasn't the best food I've had on this trip, but it was still very good. There weren't many wow moments, but no dishes failed. And the service and experience were among the best I've seen so far. So all up, a pretty damn good lunch, I'd say.

Michelin star tally: 18

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