Sometimes the marriage of flavors and textures in a dish blend together so perfectly, you can’t help but close your eyes in absolute food ecstasy. This is what happened when I bit into the braised octopus at the new Restaurant CINQ at the landmark La Colombe d’Or.
The octopus had the deep flavors of the ocean without being overpowering; the texture was crisp and tender without being tough or chewy; the avocado aioli, garlic puree and celery heart salad softened, yet complemented the octopus; and the crispy strips of chorizo gave the dish a savory kick that took everything to another level.
“It’s right up there with something I’d find in a five star restaurant in Barcelona,” my husband proclaimed as he finished the octopus with relish. Having just returned from two trips to Barcelona myself, I must say I agree.
It’s a testament to culinary talents of Restaurant CINQ’s young new Executive Chef, Jeramie Robison, who has given La Colombe d’Or’s classical French menu a partial facelift. Restaurant CINQ’s menu is split into a “New Ideas” chef-driven section, and a “La Colombe d’Or Classics” section, which includes classic French favorites like lobster bisque and rack of lamb.
I love it when a menu sounds so appetizing that I can’t decide what to order. Robison’s “New Items” had that effect on me. I was torn between choosing a duck tasting starter, with a crispy confit thigh, seasonal preserve, in-house cured duck prosciutto, arugula and confit salad, and the hudson valley foie gras, seasonal fruit reduction, brown butter, and reduced balsalmic. The foie gras won the battle, but I plan to return to try the duck tasting another time.
The chef prepared an Italian-inspired off-the-menu lamb meatball with fresh gnocchi and a tomato ragout for us to taste, something I enjoyed despite the fact that I’m not a lamb eater. Caledonia prawns set atop a bordignon polenta, tomato compote and shrimp consomme, the chef’s haute cuisine version of shrimp and grits, was rich, smooth and extremely decadent for a seafood starter.
Already replete by the time the mains arrived, I somehow managed to finish the incredibly tender and rich braised short ribs, with corn veloute, red wine stewed cabbage, wild mushrooms and veal demi glace. If I hadn’t been so full or calorie conscious, I could also have single-handedly devoured the extremely good macaroni and cheese side dish, topped with crispy bread crumbs and served in a cast iron skillet.
Even the wine was excellent, a slightly spicy but extremely smooth Belle Glos Meomi pinot noir, a descendent of Napa’s illustrious Caymus Vineyards.
The ambience and the flawless service had a lot to do with the overall experience as well. Due to a function on the first floor, we had the pleasure of dining in the third floor art gallery surrounded by an exquisite selection of curated art. It felt exclusive and intimate, like we had been given full reign of someone’s private dining room.
That’s the feeling that you’ll get when you dine at Restaurant CINQ. The space has been entirely renovated to offer a classic yet modern aesthetic that is elegant, intimate and romantic, while preserving the classic beauty of the 1920’s era Fondren mansion.
A hot young chef, an inventive new menu, and a dining room that makes you feel like you’re at an exclusive restaurant in Paris? Restaurant CINQ, C’est magnifique!
Restaurant CINQ at La Colombe d’OR. 3410 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006. Tel. (713) 524-7999. www.lacolombedor.com