What Briffard introduced to Le Cinq is a more
Asian touch, a way of cooking that focuses on a product, with less heavy
creamed sauces and the likes. This does not mean that he cooks light food, as
you will still be more than satisfied after a meal here. However, Briffard's cooking encompasses more
Asian spices and products than a number of other French chef's food. An example
for this would be a duck dish. It features a large piece of the breast that is
glazed not unlike the way you will find it in Chinese cooking. On the side of
this, you find a pastilla that reminds you of Northern African food. It
contains the minced duck leg and a hearty portion of foie gras. This gives you
a beautiful, gamey, livery flavour encased in crunchy phyllo pastry.
Even better, and much more classical is a sweetbread, served with girolles. It is an interesting dish, because despite being fairly traditional in terms of flavours involved, Briffard tweaks it a bit here and there to turn it into something superb. The sweetbread for instance is slightly caramelised, in order to make its surface even crunchier. The cooking is just right, not overdone and not underdone. Thus you have the incredibly creamy centre, and a fine, very crunchy crust atop. A bit of wasabi around the plate helps lift up the flavours a bit and gives some punch to the dish. Together with the hearty veal jus, this is an absolutely outstanding dish. It is a kind of contemporary version of classical cooking that makes sense, and is extremely satisfying to eat.
If the desserts have often been described
as being less good, an apricot and gianduja creation is quite remarkable. To
make the fresh, slightly acidic taste of the abricot work with the rich and
nutty gianduja work so harmoniously is a rare achievement. It is one of these
desserts that make you wonder why the Parisian grands restaurants manage to serve sweets that are so much more interesting and tasty
than pretty much anything else around the world. It's a masterpiece.
Apart from allowing you to eat very well, a meal at Le Cinq is an experience that goes beyond what lies on the plate. The service under the charming Eric Beaumard for instance is absolutely perfect. Friendly, spot-on and knowledgeable, the team here takes great care of their customers and adds even more to your experience. The room itself, as grand and richly decorated as it is, is much warmer than others in Paris, and has a feeling of intimacy to it that few places have.
Thus, Le Cinq really epitomises what can be called a grand restaurant. It serves a kind of food that is resolutely modern in its approach to combining flavours and yet more than classical in serving generous portions that you only find in France. Its great to see someone put more than just a tiny slice of duck breast your plate, especially when it is as good as here. With the superb service, and 2300 wines on offer here (at very reasonable prices) there is little that can detract you from having a superb time here.