Restaurant le Cerisier in Lille: good but boring

Le Cerisier, in Lille, offers quality cuisine for a Michelin-starred restaurant, but it’s hampered by laborious service.

For my third dinner in Lille, after La Table du Clarance, I chose another Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Cerisier. Ideally I would have preferred a different date, as Le Cerisier’s most elaborate menu is only served on Saturdays, but unfortunately there was only availability on Friday evening. Anyway, the comments on the restaurant are positive, so I’ll go with the proposed menus and I’m very confident.

You’ll find all the articles about this stay in Lille at the bottom of the page.

The concept

Le Cerisier offers French cuisine halfway between tradition and modernity.

The setting

The restaurant has two different offerings: a brasserie on the first floor and a restaurant upstairs. Of course, I booked the second one.

The room is large and bright, with a sleek yet warm style.

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It also features a large open kitchen.

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The menu

The restaurant offers 3 menus. The first is only available at lunchtime, the second is a 5-course tasting menu, available all the time, and the third is a 7-course tasting menu available only on Saturday evenings.

So I have no choice but to go for the 5-course menu.

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The dinner

A complete change of style from my dinner the day before. Whereas one was in an old-fashioned, classic setting, this one is in true modernism.

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Fortunately, the dining room has much more charm.

The receptionist is busy with a customer on the phone, so I’ll have to wait a few minutes before I’m taken in charge. When she’s finally available, she sends me to the floor above, where the restaurant’s reception is, since downstairs is the brasserie. It would have been better if it had been clearly stated. Her suit, on the other hand, really needs a trip to the cleaners – it doesn’t make a very good impression.

I arrive on the floor, where they take my coat check and seat me at my table. I’m ideally placed in the front row to admire the ballet of the kitchen brigade. In fact, almost all the chairs face the kitchen, and I think that’s a great idea.

The choice of menu is quickly made as I have no choice, and I’ll ask the sommelier to recommend a few wines by the glass rather than embarking on a wine-pairing that’s generally too copious for me (or let’s rather say that I don’t drink fast enough).

They start by bringing me appetizers.

The first is original: a virgin gin and tonic with juniper berries.

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I think the idea of working a cocktail like a dish is excellent, and reminds me of the bloody mary at Angle in Barcelona. It’s nice and fresh, but in no way resembles a Gin Tonic.

More traditional appetizers follow. They won’t be served on plates, which makes photography difficult (in fact, one will explode between my fingers). I only managed to order a glass of champagne for the aperitif in the middle of the amuse bouche service.

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I’ll retain an excellent Jerusalem artichoke cake, a marriage between beet and haddock, and a very fine sardine with licorice.

Overall, it’s quite sophisticated, creative and successful, and they’re served one by one, which I also think is a good idea, even if I’d have preferred them on plates.

Apart from that, I get the kind of waiter I can’t stand in a restaurant. Honeyed, mannered, almost condescending… Well, it’s subjective, some customers like to be treated like that because it makes them feel that the staff are at their feet, but that’s not my style.

He then brings me an assortment of butters: sweet, smoked salt, and I think the last one is snail butter. All three will be excellent.

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But it would be better with bread. Bread is served to the table, slice by slice. I see the waiter going from table to table but nothing for me. He then goes off to do something else. I’ll end up with a slice of bread 10 minutes after the butter has been served.

The first course arrives: Langoustine glazed with buckwheat, emulsion with langoustine legs. Tabbouleh with watercress sauce

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The langoustine is very good, but not cooked enough for my taste. The taboulet with watercress sauce is decent, but the emulsion is good. In the end, however, the blend is quite successful.

I find, however, that there are too many things on the plate and that more simplicity would be welcome.

There’s a bit of a wait. Yesterday I had three courses while drinking a glass of wine, today it’ll be one or one and a half… With nothing to do but watch the kitchen, I’m surprised that the dishes come out so slowly. There’s only one menu, everyone eats the same thing, they have reservation times, there should be more rhythm.

The second course finally arrives: Turbot, extraction with pea pods, french style peas

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Visually, it’s superb.

The fish is perfectly cooked, as you can see from this photo…

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It’s very fresh, with a lemon aftertaste, and the marriage with the smokiness of the peas and bacon is remarkable. And on a personal note, peas and bacon bring me back to my childhood, like those simple grandmotherly dishes that have gone out of fashion.

A truly excellent dish!

But what a boredom! It’s a good thing I’m in the front row, so I can admire the work in the kitchen and the way the dishes are laid out. By the way, the preparation of the lamb that follows looks like a lot of work. What’s more, there’s only 3G reception in the room, so I can’t even distract myself by reading the press on my phone.

The lamb finally arrives: Lamb, cromesquis, sweetbreads, artichoke, fregola.

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The fregola (served on the side) is delicious (Sardinian pasta).

The meat is perfectly cooked, but perhaps it lacks something…

The sweetbreads are excellent and perfectly cooked. The tapenade is an original idea, at least at the beginning because it’s too present at the end.

I’m then asked if I’d like some cheese. I’d be delighted to.

Do you like everything?

Er, yes…

Maybe you want to choose?

Er…well yes“. Weird question.

Follow me then“.

Unlike most restaurants, it’s not the cart that comes to the customer, but the customer who goes to the cart. It’s in the cellar with the wine bottles to stay at the right temperature. Brilliant idea!

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The cheese will then be brought to my table with a salad. Good idea.

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I’d like to recommend some water. I wave to a waiter who waves back, like “I’m busy but I’ll be back”. He just went to chat with a colleague, and I’ll never see him again and won’t order water.

Time for pre-dessert. A waiter comes…

Do you want me to talk to you in english“. (in english)

Do I speak French so badly….” (in french)

All of a sudden he looks super embarrassed and I’m getting more than fed up.

Baba infused with cherry blossom.

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It’s fresh and light, perfect before dessert.

Asparagus flambéed in a Norwegian omelette, cherry gin, juniper berry, tonka.

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It’s excellent, and in terms of creativity I wonder where the chef got such an idea! It’s very good, light and you can really feel the taste of the asparagus.

As someone who is not a fan of desserts and sweet things, I bow and applaud.

A waiter, a very pleasant one this time, comes and asks me if I’d like some more water. I’d love to, but since all I’ve got left is coffee, I’m not going to take a 1.5l bottle. He proposes that he could get me a 33cl from the brasserie. Perfect and an excellent initiative.

I’ll finish with a coffee and mignardises.

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This concludes the dinner with a total bill of 180 euros.

A dinner that lived up to all its promises, with an excellent balance between tradition and creativity. The execution was perfect, and if I have one or two criticisms, they are purely matters of taste, with all the subjectivity that goes with that.

Too bad the service isn’t up to the cuisine’s standards.

The service

It was slow, terribly slow, but I don’t think it was just a question of the service: I had the impression that it was the kitchen that was lagging a bit.

Then, as far as the staff was concerned, it was a mixed picture.

A pedantic, obsequious, insufferable waiter, a second who ignores me when I call him and doesn’t come to see me…

To counterbalance this, the one in charge of the cheese was very friendly and pleasant, and the one who finished serving my table was just perfect (I think it was the sommelier). Professional, friendly, helpful, without overdoing it. If I’d had him throughout the meal, my experience would have been infinitely better.

The atmosphere

Relaxed but hushed, very pleasant.

Bottom line

An obviously mixed experience.

As far as the cuisine is concerned, the balance between classicism and creativity is perfect. It’s good, it’s fine, it’s not overdone. The chef really does an excellent job…although he should ask his staff to step up the pace a bit.

As for the service itself, it was like Russian roulette depending on who I was dealing with. Add to this a slow service, and it logically tarnished my experience, as this is inseparable from the overall feeling.

The articles about this stay in Lille

#TypePost
1DiaryOrganizing a trip to Lille
2TrainParis-Lille, SNCF TGV 1st class
3HotelMoxy Lille City
4RestaurantEstaminet chez Raoul Lille
5RestaurantLa Table du Clarance, Lille
6HotelL’Hermitage Gantois, Lille
7RestaurantLe Cerisier, Lille
8RestaurantLe Braque, Lille
9DiaryVisit Lille
10TrainLille-Paris, SNCF TGV 1st class ( useless, no review)
11DiaryDebriefing my trip to Lille

Bertrand Duperrin
Bertrand Duperrinhttp://www.duperrin.com
Compulsive traveler, present in the French #avgeek community since the late 2000s and passionate about (long) travel since his youth, Bertrand Duperrin co-founded Travel Guys with Olivier Delestre in March 2015.
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