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Le Cirque Review for Winter Restaurant Week 2010
February 6, 2010, 2:37 pm
Filed under: Eat, Go | Tags: , , , , , ,

I suppose anyone who lives in NYC has heard of the venerable bastion of fine dining that is Le Cirque. You know, snooty French waiters, jackets required, that sort of thing. Restaurant Week goers often complain that they feel as though they’ve been treated poorly, but I found my experience to be quite the contrary. The staff was welcoming and gracious, pulling out chairs, folding napkins when patrons left to use the restroom, and didn’t so much as flinch when we declined to drink anything but tap water.

I had the Maine shellfish to start, followed by the diver scallops and ending with the milles-feuilles. I like fancy foam as much as the next person, but I don’t like it when there is so much foam that my view of the actual food underneath it is obscured. The shellfish were perfectly cooked, and the red pepper-yuzu broth was light and complementary, not detracting from the delicate textures and brine of the shellfish. The fregola Sarda (a rich, earthy Sardinian pasta made by rubbing coarse semolina pasta and water together to create crumbs) grounded the dish and provided a welcome heartiness.

The three diver scallops were divine by themselves, but really shone when eaten with the other components of the dish. I loved the sweetness and the richness of the buttery butternut squash puree, the salty meatiness of the bacon jus, and the crispness of the broccolini. If it were socially acceptable to lick a plate in public, I would have done it. Normally, I would complain about getting just three scallops, but I felt that it was actually the perfect amount of food for a main in a three-course meal. Each bite was just as delicious as the first, and there was no declining marginal utility. I was immensely satisfied.

The pork belly with spicy black lentils was good, though I feel the quality of the pork belly was only so-so. (Not quite enough fat.) Finally, it was time for dessert. The chocolate milles feuilles was a disappointment for me. This is what I was expecting. This is what I got:

It’s not that it wasn’t tasty; I just wanted my “thousand leaves” of flaky, buttery pastry and I didn’t get it. I should have gone with the creme brulee like Sara (lots of egg whites, very light). *le sigh*

This was easily one of the better RW meals I’ve had, though I suspect the food is probably better when the kitchen isn’t slammed. Every seat in the house was full, and I’m guessing that with the recession, there have been quite a few empty seats in recent months. I wasn’t so impressed that I’ll go back again, but I did enjoy my meal and my second Adrian Grenier sighting (he was dining with a group of very normal-looking friends).

Be forewarned: drinks are pricey. You might consider teetotaling if you want to keep the bill low.

Le Cirque Restaurant Week Winter 2010 Menu
Lunch $24.07, Dinner $35

Cannellini Bean Soup with apple, walnuts, and hon shimeiji mushrooms
Roasted Golden Beet Salad with gorgonzola mousse, pear, and spicy cashews
Sautéed Maine Shellfish with fregola Sarda and red pepper-yuzu broth
Chicken Parfait with porcini gelée and poppy seed crackers
Venison and Pistachio Sausage with celery root and pickled cherries

Diver Sea Scallops with butternut squash purée, broccolini, and bacon jus
Salmon Fillet Confit with sumac crust, jicama, and citrus broth
Berkshire Pork Belly with spicy lentil salsa and radish salad
Bavette Steak with parsnip purée, sweet and sour mushrooms, and watercress

Baba au Rhum with citrus fruits
Crème Brûlée Le Cirque
Milk Chocolate Milles Feuilles


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