My recollection is Le Cinq is open 7 days a week and offers their modestly priced lunch. Verify that, though. I love that room if you are in the mood for such an imposing setting. Yet the service is very friendly and they try to see that you enjoy yourself and are not intimidated by the space. That said, I recently popped in there to take a peek at their lunch menu and I was a bit uninspired by it. I took my parents there for lunch two years ago and we had a very enjoyable time. A pretty decent wine list, as I recall.
Yes, it's open 7 days per week and the 85 euro lunch is offered every day. Their pretty decent wine list is actually a pretty decent, expensive wine list. Their lunch menu recently improved enough to meet my inspiration threshold level, hence I went. Enough boring facts, it's time for some storytelling ...
As you enter the third week of June in Paris, Les Soldes arrivent.
40% off lots of stuff. Do I need any new clothes? No. But need is never the right word. Do I really want any new clothes? Not really. Can I resist 40% off the stuff that I don't need and don't really want? No, of course not. That would be close to impossible. The sales don't actually start til this Wednesday, but on the weekend prior they always seem to find a way to accommodate you or put the stuff aside for you. Avenue George V, Francois Ier, Avenue Montaigne and Fbg St Honore are on order for the afternoon. Le sixieme arrondissement
is on the morning agenda. A quick lunch separates the two. Hence, I had a busy Saturday planned. There was only one slight problem. If you don't go to bed until well past 3am, you don't wake up all that early. Two hours later than desired, I arrive at destination number 1 in the 6th. I go downstairs. Ooooh, unexpectedly those Lanvin sneaks and those Common Projects sneaks are on sale. I SMS her "I'll be 10 minutes late !
". Not too much later, I SMS her again "That was a typo
Make that 20 minutes late
". The final SMS was "Dans le metro
. Meet ya on the corner of les Champs et Georges V
." I pop out of the metro. She's not there. I check my phone. I have a msg "Dans Louis Vuitton
". Not much of a surprise.
We walk down George V, go thru the revolving door and are confronted with a dazzling display of violet and purple. The theme continues into the courtyard in a flourishing fashion. You can always count on The Four Seasons in Paris for a fantastic flower arrangement. Turn right, down the marbled hallway, turn left, down the "runway" past people having a cup of tea or a bite of this and arrive at the podium. "Bonjour Monsieur Musigny, your table is waiting." I respond "Call me Chambo" and we are guided to our seats.
The 85 euro menu is entree / plat / dessert. Choice between 3 entrees / 2 plats / 3 desserts.
Our quick lunch ended three hours later. The day didn't really go according to plan. Oh well. Here's what we ate:
A spoonful of something or other. As we were reading the menu, somehow they slipped an extra spoon with some goodies on it next to our existing spoon.
Tri-part amuse: 1. A 3/4" half-sphere of some clear gelatin with whole peas visibly suspended within sitting on top of a cracker. 2. Smoked eel completely covered by a white horsradish coating. It's a thin (1/4") rectanguloid shape. It looks exactly like one of the chocolates off the dessert chariot at the end of the meal - only it's totally white as opposed to dark chocolate-colored. 3. A tall, skinny shot glass of pale-colored foie-gras mousse on the bottom with a pretty-in-pink grapefruit foam on top. After making the initial error, I advised my dining partner to be sure to did deep with that long slender wooden spoon to get the mousse on the bottom and the foam on top. Thankfully, there were a good 3 spoonfuls so I still could appreciate the chef's concept. The amuse overall was very pretty, colorful and good. It's a generous amuse that was indeed very much enjoyed. If you want to get really critical, you could say that the horseradish coating should have had a bit more zing to it, there is better smoked eel than that, the pea thingy was probably presentation over palette. All that said, if served in NYC, it's probably one of the best amuses on offer.
Me: Tartare de veau de lait. Aux huitres de l'etang de Thau, condiments aux algues
She: Foie gras de canard des Landes. Roti a la verveine, peche blanche aux amandes
It was a very tasty, medium-to-fine-chop tartare, shaped as a rectanguloid. Excellent and interesting seasoning going on within. One naked, shell-less oyster and a few of these green algae condiments, shaped as squashed-flat gumdrops. Maybe something else was on the plate.
But if you like foie gras, this is the uncontested entree to get. A major-sized lobe of super-delicately roasted duck liver with two sweet, ovalized playtoys: one of peachiness as given in the menu description; the other of highly-pleasing prune
-iness went unmentioned. Some jus. Enough foie for two. Damn good. Reaffirms why I never voluntarily order foie gras in the US. This foie is prepared and roasted to yield a less dense / less thick / less richly-pasty-decadent version, but it's a version worth trying.
Us: Lotte bretonne nacree au fenouil sec, copeaux de poutargue. Legumes au jus d'une bouillabaisse.
Us: Lapin Rex du Poitou. Cuisine aux couteaux, haricots borlotti. Jus au muscadet.
When ordering, I told the server that we would like to have the monkfish and the rabbit and that we would like to share them. Hence, if possible, we would like the kitchen to plate the half portions for us and serve them sequentially. He said that there is no problem doing that for the monkfish. He further described the rabbit dish as having one chop, one rable de lapin
, one of these, one of those, etc. and hence they can surely bring the standard plat to the table and provide us each with separate empty plates. I said "Hmmmm, sounds a bit complicated?" He said let me touch base with the kitchen while you finalize your dessert choice. He returns swifty and says the kitchen will figure out something.
The half portion of very appropriately-cooked monkfish was a perfect quantity. An interesting saucing. A separate cup of lightly-jus-coated veggies (carrots, zucchini, tomatoes, x, y, z) with a bit more jus on the bottom. The jus was and tasted exactly as described on the menu: a classic bouillabaisse. A very pleasant eat. Nothing to fault on the fish front. If I wanted to get critical, I might have been wondering in the back of my head if the bouillabaisse jus allowed for hiding vegetables that were not of the highest order, but I was lost in conversation.
Le Cinq does the simultaneous cloche-removal thing when appropriate. After the empty monkfish plates were retired, we soon each received the cloche-removal treatment. Prior to the removal, I had a pretty good idea what was happening. Upon removal, it was clear. They opted to give us each the entire rabbit plate. And it's a pretty impressive display of rabbit showmanship. Without giving the total blow by blow, there are at least 6 unique components to the dish. A razor clam to be reckoned with (except for one bite that had a bit of sand in it - and this happened to both of us - no teeth were broken though): seriously tender, beautifully cooked and seasoned with some complex, buttery jus in the shell. A very nice mini-millefeuille-like veggie construction. Could the rabbit loin have been just the tiniest bit too dry if you eat it all alone? You know, it's quite possible, but I surely wasn't about to waste a second bite to find out when I had so many different juicy options to pair it with. An impressive output from a kitchen for a meal at this price point.
Due to lack of time, I'm going to accelerate here.
Desserts: Excellent. Lovely colors, construction and plating. And if you think you know what color that peach dessert dish was, you're wrong!
Me: Abricots rotis au miel de romarin. Chocolat fondant praline, sorbet abricot
She: Peche blanche d'Amour. A la verveine glacee, lait frappe a l'orgeat
Pre-dessert first. Dessert chariot after. Box of dessert goodies for her. Check for me.
Decent to good bread, not more. Two tall, slim conic sections of Bordier butter (demi-sel et beurre aux algues
), proudly presented as such (take note M. Simonin).
This is all happening in a most gorgeous room. With excellent, knowledgable, highly-professional and very friendly service, as usual. What's not to like.
Is this the best food in Paris? No.
Do I go here to ponder and meditate over their incredible, lunchtime ingredients? No.
Do I go here by myself to savor every last bite and chew? No.
Is there a better way to spend 85 euros at lunch in Paris? I say no. But I'm all ears.
I go here for lunch to enjoy a very good meal in a gorgeous, sophisticated space with people with whom I want to converse and share a restrained yet festive time. It's pretty reliable for that.
Others might want to consider using it to impress a young, hot babe. Not me, though.