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A Taste of Things to Come at Paris's Le Cinq
September 2, 2008 at 10:49AM by Chris Schmicker |  comments

Le Cinq restaurant in ParisIt had been a remarkable rise to culinary distinction for Le Cinq when, in 2003, it captured its third Michelin star in just three years of operation. Under chef Philip Legendre, the restaurant, located in Paris's historic Four Seasons George V hotel, delivered impossibly refined, modern classics like the black Périgord truffle tart, and wood-smoked lobster with chestnuts.
 
Then, in February 2007, Le Cinq lost its third star. Fourteen months later, Legendre threw in his toque there too. Suddenly, the restaurant that had so quickly shot up the ranks was in need of fresh talent.

Enter new executive chef Eric Briffard, who may be the catalyst for Le Cinq's renaissance. Having earned two stars each at his last two engagements -- the Plaza Athénée's Régence and Hôtel Vernet's Elysées -- Briffard now faces the challenge of recovering Le Cinq's third star.

A few weeks ago I had the pleasure of staying in Paris at the George V, and made a reservation for dinner to see Briffard in action. It was lucky timing. My Gourmet Tasting Menu (210 euros, not including drinks) straddled new and old, with Briffard debuts alongside Legendre standbys.

Cultivated under the peerless Joël Robuchon at Paris's Jamin, Briffard's technical prowess was no surprise. Take his answer to Legendre's lobster, served in two dishes side-by-side. The first was an exercise in restraint, with tender claw-meat in a delicately herbed broth of natural juices that resonated with deep, briny notes. The second, in contrast, was a more intricate pairing of lobster tail with brousse cheese gnocchi and vanilla-scented fennel. Other sophisticated combinations popped up elsewhere in the meal: seaweed flavored Breton butter, chilled sheep's milk yogurt brightened with olive oil.

Service was prompt, personal and genuinely warm -- a Four Seasons signature perfected here by the George V staff.Eric Briffard of Le Cinq in Paris

Briffard (pictured right) premieres his first full menu this fall, providing an exciting opportunity to witness his vision for a renewed Le Cinq. If waiting for Michelin's 2009 ratings has you drumming the table in anticipation, book a meal on your next Paris trip and judge for yourself whether Le Cinq's star is once again on the rise.

Le Cinq
Four Seasons Hotel George V
31 Avenue George V
75008 Paris, France
+33 (0) 1 49 52 70 00

 

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Beyond Coffee & Chocolate in Bogotá's Dining Scene
Beyond Coffee & Chocolate in Bogotá's Dining Scene
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