The waiter looks at me and opens his eyes wide. I see him in evident difficulty. He turns around. He looks for help but does not find it. He apologizes and tells me that it can happen. I accept his apologies and answer that no, it cannot happen in a restaurant of that level, hosted in a hotel of that level, in a city of that level. The waiter listens to me and disappears. Then comes Patrick, the restaurant manager’s assistant. He keeps on apologizing and talking, offers me sweet attention, desserts and words. He does not even want me to pay my check.
You are asking yourself the reason of this chaos. Easy: I have found a piece of plastic in my fish.
Stop. Let’s start from the beginning.
I am in Paris, in the hotel Four Season George V one of the most beautiful and important hotels in Europe. In there the three-starred restaurant Le Cinq of Christian Le Squer, a very important chef. He has earned three stars since 2002, from 2013 in the circle of cooks of “Le Cinq toques” of the guide Gaul Millau, in 2016 he was elected best chef of the year. Clearly it is an habit by now, when you have more restaurants to handle, and they are starred, Le Squer is not at Le Cinq.
Am I going to find one of these chefs cooking sooner or later? Hope never dies…
A great genius of cuisine deserves a wonderful location and the Four Season George V of Paris is absolutely one of these. Besides Le Cinq it also hosts other starred restaurants and thanks to the work of the American artistic director Jeff Leatham the wide and wonderful rooms are decorated by amazing floral arrangements.
Everything is great, but we are here for the cuisine.
You enter the room through a small cloister and it can host at least 60 guests: we are maximum 12. The restaurant manager explains me that this is a privilege that only the restaurants hosted in luxury hotels have: they can grant a flawless service and very high quality raw materials even if they serve a few people, renouncing to some of their earnings. Moreover, he tells me, the hotel is complaining a drop of visits: European people are missing and guests are mostly Asian.
After a good talk in French and the amuse-bouche, I am hit by a pizza triangle with pearls of basil, tomato, and olives that stimulates my palate, then I order.
I can choose between two menus: a simple gourmet and a lunch gourmet. I choose the second one, in particular the one with four courses.
I also order wine: the sommelier is good and prepared and he tells me that the bottle that I have chosen is their best as for quality-price ratio in their whole wine cellar, which is composed by almost 50.000 bottles inside the hotel.
The menu is composed by asparaguses, onions soup, grilled snapper, and a coffee mousse. The soup is the best dish in my opinion: there is no liquid, only the onions contain a cream, and when you break them it goes into the plate. All vegetables are provided by Asafumi Yamashita, the high fashion agriculture that in his small garden of Yvelines cultivates products and sells them to famous restaurants, and every year flies to Japan looking for very special seeds.
It is now moment of the main course: the grilled snapper, where I find a piece of plastic that puts the rooms and the service in crisis. From that moment on Patrick does not leave me for a second: he keeps on offering me desserts, he brings me to the kitchens (there are four in the Four Season and the biggest is the one of Le Cinq) where I meet a team of 25 people!
In the meantime I ask for the check and a coffee: many of you have asked me how coffee in three-starred restaurants is. Now I can answer: awful.
The check does not come though. Patrick tells me that the dinner is offered by Le Cinq because of the inconvenient. I protest: I want to pay. From the direction one only answer: no way. Then a very long discussion ending with the win of the restaurant. I stand up, say goodbye, and do not pay.
I have to say I do not share this decision (for example I would simply erase the price of the snapper and make the guest pay the rest) for the respect that I give and demand, but it does not prevent me from expressing opinions.
The restaurant has not astonished or thrilled me. Neither did its dishes. Great hotel, wonderful rooms, and amazing scenes decorated by Leatham but nothing more. The piece of plastic in the snapper has its weight though, I cannot ignore it.