LE CINQUIÈME JOUR
by Caro Blackwell and Chené Koscielny
All photographs by Caro Blackwell from Taste of Savoie
What are we on about? Le Cinquième Jour
Le Cinquième Jour is the creation of Chef Walter el Nagar, an art curator turned chef from Milan, who began his culinary journey in Italy and developed his skills throughout Europe, Mexico and the USA. Also known as The Mad Chef, Walter has gained an international reputation for his dynamic and evolving menus and pop-up restaurant concepts that have been seen in Los Angeles at the Barbershop Ristorante, Barcelona, Ibiza, Moscow, Tulum and Singapore.
ONLY 12 SEATS
The first thing that makes Le Cinquième Jour an unique experience in Geneva is the chef’s counter, a first for Switzerland. There are only 12 seats at the counter – a semi-circular wooden table in front of the kitchen creating intimacy and close involvement with the chefs at work. You’re watching them cook your meal in front of your eyes. The restaurant has a continually changing tasting menu as the chefs experiment with seasonal and local tastes.
Diners book slots online at different times, so the restaurant is never entirely full and the chef and their two assistants have to keep very cool and collected to present the diners with their courses, while being carefully watched by their audience.
FINE DINING FOR ALL
Walter believes too often the experience of gastronomic cuisine is reserved for the wealthy. So, he is shaking up this paradigm by opening up this fine dining experience to those less privileged in the city. On the fifth day the same menu that is offered to the public on the previous 4 days is served free of charge to people in need as identified by the restaurant’s local charity partners.
On the evening that we dine, Walter teams up with old friend and fellow chef Marco Ambrosino, owner of the restaurant 28 Posti in Milan. Throughout the evening they work their magic in front of us producing an exquisite six- course menu labelled: Project Collision 1. Their joint efforts is the start of a series of ‘collision’ projects with other chefs which Walter has in mind for 2019.
Our amuse bouche consists of an amazing display called Cristal de capucine, tartelette comme une fondue, sphere des eaux du lac. The impressive freshwater ball made from jellied lake water is a injected with crayfish and served with a mackerel broth drizzled with dill oil and a delectable little melt-in-your-mouth fondue tart. It is washed down with a crisp dry white wine called Jacqere Apremont from the Haute Savoie
This is followed by a delicious locally made sourdough bread, fermented butter made with Gruyère double cream and buttermilk churned to become fermented and a snow of Cenovis (Switzerland’s answer to marmite). This is so more-ish… you just can’t stop yourself.
UNUSUAL FISH DISHES
Next we are presented with an oyster dish covered with charred cabbage – the oyster is chopped and mixed with an oyster mayonnaise.
This is followed by a nose-to-tail omble chevalier (char), served alongside chestnut and sage. The slightly aged and slow cooked fish is served with the chestnut milk alongside the fish skin, which had been dried and fried. Under the skin is ‘sausage’ meat made by combining the belly of the fish with fish eggs.
Next up: a pasta dish made by Marco – spaghetti, eau d’orge (barley water) and smoked herring.
OH SO TENDER
An oh-s0-tender slow-cooked lamb dish topped with a mixture of eggs, breadcrumbs and lemon is our next gastronomic delight paired with a light red 2015 Nebbiolo from the Val D’Osta. All of the wines served are organic, single grape and sourced from within 200 kilometres of Geneva.
The dessert from our innovative tasting menu is a pomme noire (whole fermented apple) alongside with a persimmon foam (sweet, orange tomato-like fruit of the Japanese kaki tree) and a crumbled pine nut meringue served with a glass of Kombucha (fermented) tea. Fermented food appears to be all the rage in fine dining apparently.
Instead of the traditional after dinner chocolates, we receive an extra treat of crystallised cerfeuil tubereux (root chervil), a fried tube of root vegetable with a parsnip, carrot taste. This is an acquired taste, we think. Maybe if it is covered in chocolate?
This intimate dining experience is such a great concept and can be enjoyed as a couple or alone – it’s the perfect combination of cooking theatre, great atmosphere and fine food and it makes for a very special night out. It’s not cheap, but we like the 5th day ‘charity’ angle and it’s definitely an out of the ordinary experience. If you’re a meat and potatoes or steak and chips type of guy or gal – it’s probably not for you.
Lunch is a three-course menu and dinner is a six-course tasting menu
Lunch is CHF35 per head and there is a vegetarian menu option.
Dinner is CHF110 per head and there are two wine pairing options one at 90 CHF and one at 50 CHF, for the non-drinkers there is a juice pairing offered at 25 CHF
Open Tuesday – Friday for lunch and dinner
From 12:00 – 14:30 and 18:30 – 23:00
Le Cinquième Jour
Rue des Eaux Vives, 25