Restaurants & Bars

Game at Le Cinq, Paris

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Game at Le Cinq, Paris

cabrales | Dec 3, 2003 01:12 PM

Due in part to the lack of other three-stars open for Sunday lunch, I revisited Le Cinq, and was pleasantly surprised by the cuisine received with respect to game. I like game (particularly when it is cooked to a limited extent) :) The meal was quite good – better than other meals I’ve had at Le Cinq. This is, surprisingly at least to me, a good venue for game sampling at appropriate times of the year.

The room has very high ceilings, and is ornate. The flowers are interesting, being typically long-stemmed and being placed at a 45 degree or so angle relative to the vase, jutting out from it. This only works with certain flowers and certain very tall vases. I was tired from the previous evening’s meal, but found the environment quite pleasant. Being at Le Cinq has been how I have spent more than one Sunday early afternoon.

My dining companion and I began with a glass of Pommery Louise Cuvee (year not taken down), Rose (24 euro). Roses in Louise are not entirely common, and this one did not visually look like a rose. It was more golden then pink in color, and the taste reflected more Pinot Noir than one might expect in a rose. I like the champagne cart with the roundish huge bowl in the middle containing the bottles, like one also finds at Le Bristol, say.

The dining room team was gracious. Instead of ordering the 80 euro (note increase by 10 euros) prix fixe lunch, we decided upon a sharing of a foie appetizer and three game courses. The dining room team plated each shared plate for each diner, and was very generous and gracious. The sommelier service was also very good, with recommendations of wine that I believed matched well with the cuisine. The service is at the three-star level.

Foie Gras (35 euros), with glass of Montlouis sur Loire 2002

This was tasty, although the sauteed foie was ever-so-slightly (possibly by a matter of less than a very few minutes) overcooked. Still, a dish I found fairly good. I liked the wine pairing too, for the Montlouis was thinner in the mouth than a more conventional pairing using wine like a Sauternes. The sommelier was patient in explaining the wine to us.

Chou Solognot (35 euros)

From the seasonal game menu, this dish consisted of rabbit/hare flesh that had been diced and placed inside leaves of green cabbage. The green cabbage was slightly overcooked, when contrasted with Lucas-Carton’s foie wrapped in green cabbage dish or Cote St-Jacque’s cabbage-wrapping-black-truffle dish. However, perhaps the greater cooking level of this cabbage was appropriate to match the “darker” contents of this packet. Nice intensity to a dark, meat-stock-based saucing with little diced bits of veggies.

The rabbit/hare in this "chou solognot" dish did not deliver as heavy a sense of gaminess as would be later expressed in the lievre dish. But, balanced flavors and a good ability to taste the less gamey aspects of rabbit/hare.

Grouse Ecosse (55 euros), with bottle of Cote Rotie, producer not discernible from my notes 1998 (150 euros)

I hadn’t sampled grouse for a year, understandably, given the game season, and found this version nicer than versions I had at Club Gascon, London (where grouse is not regularly available) and St John (London) last year. Grouse as a game bird is quite appealing, as its intrinsic flavor is pronounced so as to distinguish it from, say, pigeon. Here, the thigh had a confit-like texture, but the breast area of the grouse was cooked appropriately rare. It was rare, and not medium-rare, in some places – as I had specifically requested it. In some places, the flesh still conveyed its intrinsic textures and was particularly appealing to me. Imagine rare-ish pigeon, with stronger flavors particular to grouse that can’t be described verbally.

Lievre a la Royale (57 euros), with bottle of Hermitage de Colombiers 1998 (99 euros)

I had been eying the lievre a la royale possibility during meals at Lucas-Carton (where the dish’s recipe is patterned after a Careme recipe), Bristol and Gerard Besson (where it is served for two people). Finally, I was able to order this classical dish. The hare flesh was, as expected, a bit confit and had some suggary tones from the preparation method. A dark brown, almost blackish sauce coated it. It was nicely presented as a round mass in the middle of the plate, and, very helpfully, surrounded by some fresh cranberries. The cranberries added a bit of acidity, which was echoed in the nice wine pairing provided by the sommelier, and a bit of freshness. The berries were used very well in this dish.

Fromage (19 euros)

Jack Daniels 1902 (23 euros) – I ordered this digestif because it was from 1902. Surprisingly similar to non-vintage Jack Daniels. This restaurant has an interesting range of digestifs and other after-meal drinks, including Chartreuse Vert – Tarragon (sp), which I had sampled last time.

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