You know when you’ve eaten a meal so epic, you put off writing about it because it feels like no words will ever do it justice? That’s me and Le Cinq, Paris.
I’ve only eaten in a few Michelin starred restaurants in my life and had never eaten in a three Michelin starred restaurant. So I really didn’t know what to expect at this highly esteemed dining room of George V Paris.
I don’t know him personally (and bar a few words over twitter, I have never spoken to him in person) but I reckon Christian Le Squer, who runs the kitchen at Le Cinq, is my kind of chef.
Having grown up in Britanny, he has a passion for seafood – in fact he wanted to be a fisherman when he was younger – so he was determined to bring flavours of the sea to the menu at Le Cinq. What’s more, he swims for an hour every morning before cycling to work and has been described as one of the most ‘down to earth’ chefs out there with a ‘determined yet serene’ approach to his work. I’m not a fan of overly pretentious dining and I am a fan of seafood, so this was all music to my ears. I couldn’t wait to see what was waiting for us at Le Cinq.
We’d arrived to beautiful sunshine in Paris that afternoon and after a lovely tour of the Four Seasons George V Hotel and quick walk along the Champs-Élysées up to L’Arc de Triomphe, we headed to our beautiful hotel room at the Four Seasons to get glammed up for our evening meal.
Christian Le Squer took over the coveted restaurant at the Four Seasons George V in 2014 and quickly earned it a third Michelin star within a matter of months (he’s had 3 Michelin stars under his belt for 12 years). The restaurant is now ranked within the top 7 three Michelin starred restaurants in the city and is considered to be the busiest. Just look on Trip Advisor, you will see how much people rave about it.
I don’t have any photos of the restaurants sadly, so you’ll have to trust me when I tell you it’s beautiful and elegant. Like the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel, the dining room comprises of classic interiors and fantastic flower arrangements by the uber talented Jeff Leatham. The tables are pristinely set and there’s a gorgeous chandelier overhead. There was a pianist playing in La Galerie, the hotel lounge, as we arrived and it made quite the first impression.
The meal at Le Cinq started with a fantastic selection of bread and salted butter (which was constantly topped up), closely followed by an amuse bouche of sensational flavours. There was a delightfully meaty cuboid which tasted like the best pâté on toast I’ve ever had. On the spoon was what we could only describe as a ‘ginger bubble’ which exploded with flavours of campari and orange in the mouth. Wow.
Our Sommelier, Eric Beaumard served us a fabulous glass of Champagne Diebolt Vallois Prestige each to set the tone. He asked us about our menu choices and wine preferences and I could almost see the cogs turning in his head as he worked out the best wine pairings for our meal. He was eccentric, charming and I loved him. When our starters arrived, he poured Mr C a glass of Chateau-Chalon 2007 Domaine Michel Pichet which served as a delicious accompaniment to the vibrant truffled green asparagas with think milk cream, grapefruit juice, asparagus sorbet and Chateau-Chalon wine mousseline.
Meanwhile, I sipped on the Saint-Julien 2004 Chateau Saint Pierre to accompany the Dublin Bay Prawns from Britanny.
Due to the difficult lighting, I flipped between iphone and SLR camera hence my mix of photography, (bare with me) but you will see this was a pretty plate and suprisingly generous portion of delicately cooked prawns which worked well with the creamy citrus sauce and crisp buckwheat pancake.
Before our mains arrived, we were introduced to what I can only describe as one of the most heavenly French dishes I’ve ever tasted – the gratinated onion. Here, Christian Le Squer had created a kind of ‘deconstructed French soup’. He’d cooked the onion until it was sweet and the middle was filled with a deep, creamy sauce. It was intense and smooth and had us both wide-eyed over the explosion of flavour. Little did we know then that we’d also be trying this at Le George two days later.
In keeping with Le Squer’s passion for seafood, I ordered the Blue Lobster, which was topped in a shell juice scented with hazelnut oil. There was another ‘bubble-like’ parcel which oozed a creamy sauce (divine) with what I think was a squid ink pasta. Delicious. It was a smokey and seriously rich dish so the light and refreshing Chateauneuf du Pape blanc was a perfect match.
We didn’t really know what to expect from Mr C’s Beef ‘Black Market’ from Australia, covered with Mozarella. At first glance, it almost looks like a dessert, and while each of the composite parts were delicious (the beef was seriously tender), he wasn’t sure whether they worked as a single dish. It was servd with raw turnip and the sommelier’s suggestion of the Chablis Grand Cru was smooth and rich.
Next, it was time for the cheeseboard. Oh, the cheeseboard.
They had just recently got a new one at Le Cinq and when we initially declined the offer (holding our hands to our full tummies), the waiter almost seemed offended. After all, they take their cheese very seriously in France. So we gave in and as he lifted the wooden lid, a pungent smell wafted around us. We couldn’t help but laugh. The tiny piece of camembert I politely ate was fabulous.
Our pre-dessert was a lovely surprise and it was absolutely amazing. The white ‘bubble’ you see here was a pillowy-soft sphere of panacotta-like creaminess (I could eat this again and again). Plus we had a citrus meringue and what I believe was an amaretto infused biscuit. Coupled with some sweet and rich dessert wines, the gluttonous levels were creeping up and up.
After so many courses- between-courses and additional wines, it was about at this point that my note-taking turned to scribbles and I was falling into a serious food coma.
Still, I followed the waiter’s reccomendation to try the grapefruit dessert (he said it was the lightest option) and when it arrived, it was very confusing for the senses. Presented in layers of raw and preserved fruit pieces, it was salmon pink in colour and sprinkled with dill. I felt like I was about to tuck into a smoked salmon starter. Of course when it hit the tastebuds, it was crunchy and sour with a few hits of sweetness.
While I think in hindsight, I would have preferred the citrus and caramel finger which Mr C had, it was pleasantly light and a very clever presentation of flavours. In fact, the caramel dessert was so good, we forgot to photograph it.
The meal ended with petit fours, mint tea and an absolutely fantastic trolley of intriguing sweeties and chocolates (think absinthe marshamallow and wrapped sweets of intense fruity flavours). Oh and have you tried Kouign-amann? If not, you haven’t lived. This is a croissant-style bread that originates from Britanny and is all flaky, buttery pastry. We couldn’t fit this in but took them away with us to nibble on the next day. They’re so good.
I love Christian Le Squer’s style. The seafood was divine, the wine was fantastic and the staff were a delight. And everything was orchestrated in a fun yet super sleek way to create a culinary journey of suprise and delight.
After our epic meal it was time to retire. And what a delight it was to know our room was just a short walk away. Have I done it justice? I still don’t think I have. This chef’s masterpieces are just too hard to put into words.
Until next time x
We were guests of Le Cinq however all views expressed here are my own. For more information visit restaurant-lecinq.com and follow Le Cinq on twitter and Facebook. Follow Chef Le Squer on twitter here.