Le Cinq, Paris – 29 June 2013

It had definetely been too long. I cannot begin to tell you how I anticipated being back in this fab place. The prospect of being invited here for lunch by good friends Jerome and Dragana, and later on having a blast with 60.000 people at Stade de France, watching my 50th Bruce Springsteen or so. Actually Paris is – together with Frankfurt – probably the city I have seen the most Bruce shows., – let me see 1997, two shows, – 1999, 2002, 2005, 2006 and now 2013 – a good 7 shows over the years.

Bruce – is of course also likely to pop up in the lobby or tea room of George V. – but being in a “French” crowd, we were running a bit late – and therefore no time to absorbe the beauty of the tea-room, or to look out for Bruce – but straight into the beautiful arms of Le Cinq. However we did notice that the “crisis” has not have any impact on the flower budget of the hotel. Flowers everywhere.

If there is one thing you do not need to worry about here in the hotel and in the restaurant – it is the service.  It is as good as it gets.

"Le Grand Salle"

“Le Grand Salle”

I remember reading that the architect behind this room strived for making the room look like a dining room more than a restaurant. I do not know if he succeeded. I guess you have to have a monster salary to have a dining room like this. But nevertheless it is a beauty. And the waiters are everywhere. As we noted, it is like watching a ballet. A  ballet with a lot of action, our great sommelier had some work to do – and you could actually se he was stressed every now and then. Just in compare, I have never ever experienced Daniel Kiowski stressed. BUT, a good sommerlier this one was. He came with advice and was close to a perfect sommelier in my humble opinion. A great grande champagne opened the “party”. Comptes from Tattinger. As good as Champagne gets in my eyes.

A Condriue and a white Chateauneuf du pape was ordered to follow. Jerome being my earliest friend to direct me to Rhone whites, after all these years I am happy to admit….those are my favourite whites these days.

Old and new friend, and lovebirds...

Old and new friend, and lovebirds…

Ready to go…

Amuses - round 1

Amuses – round 1

Salmon, parmesan flake and a “flower” with some fish eggs. None of these extraordinary, rather blant, an optimist would say pure.

Amuses - Round two

Amuses – Round 2

The thing on the left I have forgotten – in the middle a redish thing, and to the right a wonderful pea creme. From all these tasters only the pea creme stood out, and the parmesan flake was nice. The rest, well …pure. But a weak start of the menu, and we were beginning to get nervous here.

Great bread selection.

Great bread selection.

Happy to find the same fluffy bread – to the left – as in beloved Lameloise. It did not quite hit that level, but still very nice bread indeed.

Calamares

Calamares

I did not get a copy of the menu, so I cannot give you the full description of the dish. What I can tell you – is that this dish was among the best I ever had. Every variety of Octopussy cooked to perfection. It will be among my dishes of the year for sure, of my life maybe 10p.

Razor mussels / shrimps

Razor mussels / shrimps

We all agreed on the texture of the chopped mussels and the taste as being perfect. The raw or almost raw shrimps we did not like. I did not care for the presentation. Back to shaky. 7.5p

A little in-between

A little in-between

And a great one. With a hidden ravioli inside the “soup”. What a taste of chantarelle. 9p

The butter cover - V

The butter cover – V

Very tempted to ask if I could take one of these with me. Would be a nice memory. I did not. And I did not bring one with me. But I do love an eye for detail.

My main dish.

My main dish.

I have absolutely no idea what kind of fish it was. I did not know the name in French nor in English. It was steamed with a very citrus tasting creme and a poached egg on top of the beautiful fried zucchini  flower leaves. 8p

Pigeon with fois gras and cherries.

Pigeon with fois gras and cherries.

The verdict was not balanced on this one. Jerome found it lacked tasted – especially the reduction he found very weak and was not happy with cherries anyway. Dragana found it the best dish of the day. And it looked stunning – so lets say Jerome, a 7, Dragana a 10 – I guess we would would it somewhere around 8-8,5p

Sorbet of blackened lemon

Sorbet of blackened lemon

A little pre-dessert – might not look like a lot, but we all loved it. It had the wauw factor like the starter had. It was spot on. 10p

3 riders were approaching...

3 riders were approaching…

and the wind began to howl. Strawberry desserts waiting to be served to lucky us. Not a dessert man. Not a strawberry man. But man was this a great dessert. Strawberries never tasted richer or better. 9p

The aftershow. the sweets is a story for itself – you are spoiled with a waggon of goodies.

Make your selection

Make your selection

or let this PERFECT waiter do the trick.

or let this PERFECT waiter do the trick.

Marsh-mellow strawberry.

Marshmallow strawberry.

So – that was the end of a great show. Like any good Bruce Springsteen concert, a show with highlights and never uninteresting. A show that had us entertained a good 3 hours. Almost like a Bruce show lol.

Conclusion:

Of my three visits, I think this was the weakest performance of Le Cinq. Would I like to back. Any day. Like Jerome stated in the beginning. It is like a ballet. I think especially the amuses let us down.  But forget that and minor complaints and you have yourself a ball with stunning food, great presentations, top-notch service – and a wine book to die for. The number of wines to choose from are second to none. I do not have to wonder about the wine cellar nor the storage solutions Le Cinq has chosen. For I have been there. On a previous visit Oscar and I inspired the cellars. Organisation is everything like in all aspects of life. The small alleys in the cellar had all wines beautifully arranged and easy to get hold of. I have good friends who are actually happy with the systems you get here – http://www.loknstore.co.uk/

I thank you Drag and Jerome for this wonderful lunch, more importantly I thank you for your friendship. May your love last forever. And I thank you Bruce for directing me to this pearler in the first place 🙂

Oscar selecting a nice drop...

Oscar selecting a nice drop…

My rating for this visit: Food 8.5p (10), service 5p (5), ambience 5p (5), Total Score  18.5p (20)

Restaurant Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik – April 2012

Halfway through our stay in Dubrovnik I stumbled over this one. I had seen the sign promoting it, and walked down the alley to check it out. Outside was a very friendly man – who I would later get to know as our waiter Mario. He was busy opening for the day, but nevertheless jumped up the stairs to get me the menu, and happily explained about the dishes etc. I told him I might be back for the evening, – as it turned out – my family and I were back for the following 3 evenings.

Restaurant Dubrovnik has the most elegant and inviting al fresco dining I saw in Dubrovnik. Beautiful set tables, warm red colours, a (working) fountain in the middle and a great – and not overpriced – menu to choose from.

We loved this terrasse....

If the weather is nasty – which it got during the last part of our stay, they also offer a small room downstairs, next to the entrance, that fits 12 people or so. Nothing wrong with that room, but its not as elegant as upstairs, it is cosy though – but and interiour designer would go to one of the local artist, and order some great paintings  – or just exhibit them, in exchange for some of the ones that were hanging there. I know I would change that on my first day of management if I owned the place.

The second thing I would invest in would be electri heaters for upstairs. Its the first time in my adult life I have had dinner more or less outside at 14 degrees celcius, with my coat on and everything. That would be such a small investment and the extra amount of people choosing to dine here would increase for sure in those months that does not offer evening temperatures at a human level. Just to repeat if the management read this. Please consider NOW – next low season is coming again.

We were treated with the same amuse on all three nights. It was nice, but a top kitchen would have changed-  knowing we were returning clients. The dishes we got on all three nights were among the best we had in Dubrovnik. The service of Mario and the smile of the pretty female “hostess” were outstanding – and even the maitre seemed happy to see us again on the last two nights.

Here is some of the dishes we had.

Amuse - Creamy goat cheese with a cracker.

Octopussy terrine, Smoked tuna, Sardelles/Anchovis...

A local “classic” – done to perfection here. Loved it. Nothing to improve – you can say that it is not really innovative or nouvelle cuisine – but this was Dubrovnik kitchen at its best. 7p

Grilled vegetables with crumbled goat cheese

Perfectly grilled vegs – and an uncomplicated dish. 6.5p

Fillet of Beef with vegetables and a potato "tarte"

Beef cooked to perfection, lovey potato “thing” and good vegetables. It totally lacked salt and pepper, but I could adjust for that myself – and I did. 7.5p

Local wines on the menu, we chose this pinot noir – which I found nice, especially when chilled, it did lack a bit of acidity in the end. But we had it on all 3 nights – so I guess we were happy 😉

Great design on the bottle I think...Nice wine too.

My conclusion:

On the first night of our stay, we met a lovely couple from London. We salute you – thanks for the fun. Hope to see you further on up the road. They told Mario after the main dish on the first evening. This was our best meal in Dubrovnik so far. The second best meal was the starter they continued. That said it all. They too were back for the following night.

They had a point. We were also happy to at last find very good food at a decent price in Dubrovnik. In the end – on all three nights the bill was around 100 eur for a family, with good wine, starters and main. The plates for the kids were done – children friendly – our requests in that respect was met without a fuss.

Mario was a perfect waiter. Ever concerned about our well-being, always around. I hope the management appreciate his job and that he gets whatever he truly deserves. He would be an “added value” in most restaurants I know of. Thanks Mario.

I do think that the food at Restaurant Nautica was more innovative and more sharp in presentation – but it comes at at least double the price. This was honest and decent food, food that in the end just lacked a bit of extra seasoning – sometimes only salt and pepper – to make it perfect comfort food.

And just to repeat  – PLEASE DO INVEST IN SOME ELECTRIC HEATERS – that investment will be paid back by the month of November – at the latest.

I give Restaurant Dubrovnik my highest recommendation – should you ever be in town, say hi from Food Wine and Rocknroll

*

My rating for this visit:

Food  7p (10) service 4.5p (5) ambience 4p (5), Total Score  15.5p (20)

Dubrovnik Part 2 – Two good Restaurants of Dubrovnik

Finding a restaurant in Dubrovnik is not tough. The city is packed with possibilities. We had recommendations from our friends as well as from different kind of sources, magazines, guides etc. But still we struggled a bit to find the level we are used to in Luxembourg. The price level was as I mentioned in my last post surpricingly high and not always on par with what landed on the plates. Sea bass, scallops and oysters are found on most menus – Dubrovnik getting all those resoources from the clear waters surrounding the city – the Adriatic Ocean. Like I mention in the last post, wines are served and left on the table for you to help yourselves. Sometimes the waiter will lend a hand, but not always.

Anyway, I shall give you a selection of our favourite dining spots ranging from  bar/brasserie to top gastronomic ones – starting at the lower end of the scale with

Restaurant Veritas

More a bar than a restaurant, much more a terrasse in fact. The food here was very simple, but stil on a few occasions we were spoiled with something that rose above much higher priced places. It is situated on the corner of the small market square where Oscar and Emil where playing most days with the hundreds of doves. Comfortably chairs, shadow or a spot in the sun, Elvis will make sure you feel at ease, and his smile and speed will charm you.

Deep fried Octopussy with French Fries...

Beautilful, simple dish. If they had offered a home-made sauce tartare with this one it would have been the perfect dish.

Elivs and the Sea bass...

So after having met Bruce Springsteen already - Oscar finally gets to meet the real deal - Elvis.

One day, we just passed by for a drink, and Elvis told us we had to have the fish he just got in, – so we stayed a while, even took a walk, came back had a starter and was served this perfectly cooked fish which Elvis prepared before our eyes. It came with a garlic/oil dressing, we also ordered a gorgonzola sauce….and together it was one hell of a meal. One of the best we had in town and a 8p score. But on most occasions the food was more simple and Veritas definetely lives from the service of Elvis and the placement on this beautiful square. Most meals for a family with a bottle of wine will cost you between 75 eur and 110 eur.

My rating for Veritas: Food  4.5p (10) service 4.5p (5) ambience 4p (5), – I shall add half a happiness point for Elvis – Total Score  13.5p (20)

*

Restaurant Proto

Our first evening and a lunch a few days later we spent at Proto, which is highlighted as one of the best fish restaurants in town. One of the chefs Branko Kusovac is just back from a 45 day stay at Noma in Copenhagen – and Amra our great and beautiful waiter of the evening told us about his praise for that experience.

The old fashioned but nice dining room, like a German Weinstube in Munich...

A perfect painting in a fish restaurant, Oscar was very impressed. We had to go back one day, just to look at the painting...

Beautiful starter...

The smoked tuna blew us away, great in texture and taste, the sardelles/anchovis not too salty on a bed of salad, really a good simple dish 8p

Our mains….

Fish....damn was ít sea bass or sole .... with grilled vegetables

Great vegetables, the fish – I found that something went wrong, or maybe it was just my expectations. It was rather soaked – in butter or oil – or both – and not as great as it looked. The red reduction was misplaced in my humble opinion.

Grilled Sole with potatoes, Eggplant and Zucchini

A little less fish on the plate would have done the trick, however the fish good, again the whole plate a bit too soaky

We had two bottles of wines – one was this great Chardonnay

Local wine...

the second one a bottle of rosé – we had  an amuse, a starter and a main dish, the boys shared a great quality schnitzel with fries – the mentioned two bottles of wine, water and fanta. and the meal clocked in at just around 200 eur. Not really expensive, and with the 2 bottle of wines I guess you cannot really argue. We felt we had a good meal, nothing more nothing less. We liked the place and came back for the lunch as I mentioned and had this plate for me and just smoked tuna for the missus..

Great Great Great lunch plate..all you need.

As I said above, Amra was a great, serviceminded waiter, some of the food was great, some did not quiete impress on that evening. There is however a huge menu to choose from, great table setting, great bread, a decent wine list and a kitchen that seems to have some eye for quality and good produce. I wish Branko Kusovac all the luck in this world to achieve what he aims for. We thank Amra for her wonderful service on that night. We are happy to recommend Proto as a good restaurant in town.

My rating for Restaurant Proto: Food  6p (10) service 4.5p (5) ambience 4p (5), Total Score  14.5p (20)

I shall be back tomorrow with our two favourite restaurants from this trip – I shall leave you today with what must be a contender for the worst wine label ever. The wine as such was drinkable, but the bottle and label – oh dear.

Somebody fire that designer.