BY MIKE PUCKETT
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Restaurant Cinq is located just minutes from downtown Houston inside the beautiful La Colombe d’Or Hotel, a historic mansion built in 1923. Originally built as the private residence of the founder of Humble Oil, this elegant building later housed the local Red Cross office. This landmark property, centrally located and close to the Texas Medical Center, Rice University, downtown, River Oaks and Greenway Plaza, now serves as a boutique hotel, a fine dining establishment and a gateway to the Houston Museum District. The public areas in this stately manor are unique and bring you back to a time when things were much simpler. The library is a great place to enjoy conversation during happy hour or as you wait for the rest of your group to arrive. I suggest you take the time to walk around a bit and check things out.
The dining areas at Restaurant Cinq are absolutely gorgeous. There are a number of different rooms to accommodate groups of different sizes. Stop by the classic bar and have drinks before dinner, as we did, for a sensational start to an incredible culinary experience. The restaurant has a wonderful array of specialty cocktails. We ordered a L.C.D Old Fashioned (bourbon, muddled cherry, orange bitters and triple sec) and a French Texan (Texas vodka, St-Germain, lime juice and a twist). I particularly enjoyed the French Texan – it was wonderful! I’ve said this before, but I will say it again: to get the most out of the experience when dining at a fine restaurant, I suggest you allow the chef to choose your courses and wine pairings. The chef is highly-trained professional when it comes to taste combinations, plus he has inside knowledge on what is freshest and “au point” that evening. We left the selection of our plates to the chef and were not disappointed.
The first course, a Crispy Foie Gras, was simply divine. The fatty duck liver topped with Berries Marmalade and Balsamic Vinaigrette went perfectly with the Gerard Bertrand with which it was paired. This original rosé had a very pale pink color along with some gray and whitish tints and the bouquet revealed delightful red berry scents. What a fabulous start to a wonderful evening!
The next course was an amazing presentation of Smoked Octopus, Saffron Custard, and maple sugar accented with toast and coffee. The octopus, paired with Acrobat Pinot Gris 2012, was smoked to perfection. It had just the right flavors and texture as you can imagine as you look at the photography.
Next up was one of my favorite dishes of the evening, the Heirloom Tomato Mélange with Pesto & Fresh Mozzarella paired with a fresh, crisp French Sauvignon Blanc. The mozzarella and tomatoes were so fresh and delightful; every bite had me chasing for another! Once again, the Chef had this small plate paired perfectly; the Henri Bourgeois Petit Bourgeois Sauvignon Blanc 2012 had herbal notes, some grassiness and no discernible oak flavor. It was a superb accompaniment to this vegetarian dish.
And now for the famous Restaurant Cinq entrees I have heard so many great things about. First, we enjoyed the Pan-Seared Gulf Red Snapper; a fresh and perfectly cooked fish topped with wild-caught lump crab and Beurre Blanc, it was my favorite dish of the night. It was unbelievably delicious with flavors that go on for days! The cherry on top was the Beurre Blanc (French for “white butter”) a rich and creamy sauce similar to a Hollandaise. Simply a wonderful dish which pairs beautifully with a Chardonnay. For our final entrée, we enjoyed the Roasted Rack of Prime Colorado Lamb served with spinach, carrots and mint sauce. Now, I must admit that lamb is not my favorite dish, and doubt I would have ordered it if I were doing the choosing. But, since I let the chef choose my dinner menu course by course, I had the pleasure of savoring the lamb here at Restaurant Cinq – and it was amazing! The lamb was paired with a La Colombe d’Or label Merlot 2012, a vintage which was deeply rich with berry and oak flavor.
And last, but definitely not least, came my favorite course, dessert! Chocolate Mousse: a smooth, sweet, light mass made from whipped cream and beaten egg white and flavored with both white and dark chocolate and assorted berries. Wow! What a delight! It was paired with Champagne: La Colombe d’Or Private Lable Brut NV. You must save room as the dessert here is well worth it. Restaurant Cinq lived up to the hype and more. It’s a great place to enjoy a delicious meal with friends or family. And it’s “the” place to go to share an intimate evening with that special someone. For your meal selection, I urge you to go with the Chef’s recommendation. And, after a fine meal, why not spend the night in one of the mansion’s elegantly-decorated rooms? All in all, this was a feast for the senses and one you must experience for yourself!
PHOTOGRAPHY: MIKE PUCKETT
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