Match of the week | Gratinated onion and sercial madeira

Match of the week

Gratinated onion and sercial madeira

If you eat in a 3 Michelin-starred restaurant, as I did last week at Le Cinq at the George V in Paris, you’d expect the sommelier to come up with some pretty fantastic pairings with the food.

Which of course they did although most of them, including the stellar glass of 2017 Michel Niellon Les Chaumées Chassagne Montrachet that accompanied both the Dublin Bay prawn with warm mayonnaise and seabass with caviar and buttermilk from the Signature menu, were ones you might have expected

But the standout match for me was a ‘gratinated onion’ with a glass of 1999 Sercial madeira which is one of the best pairings I’ve had this year.

It was a dish that was utterly trashed back in 2017 in a review by the Observer’s restaurant critic Jay Rayner but both it and the chef have survived and I have to say I found it absolutely delicious. The gorgeously sticky onions were I think filled with a creamy onion purée which made it taste like a fabulously rich French onion soup, as indeed it should at 75€ (though that pales into insignificance beside the 150€ you pay for the Dublin Bay prawn) Still, whoever went to Le Cinq expecting knockdown prices? At 530€ for the tasting menu which has been put on to celebrate the 20 years that the restaurant has held its 3 Michelin stars, it’s a once in a lifetime experience.

By comparison the ’99 D’Oliveiras Sercial which you can pick up for £82 at L’Assemblage is a comparative bargain and would make a great present for any madeira - and French onion soup - lover.

Dry oloroso sherry would work well too, I reckon

You won’t be surprised to learn I ate at Le Cinq as a guest!

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