By Christopher A. Pape
There is only one restaurant in the city whose name evokes pangs of pleasure every time it is uttered. And there is only one restaurant whose force of will and height of reputation has ushered in countless replicas and launched the careers of some of the most acclaimed chefs in the world. This restaurant whose doors open for only the most elite of crowds is Le Cirque.
Nestled within the austere embrace of the Bloomberg Building in midtown east it is a bastion of the wealthy and famous – where Barbara Walters and Liz Smith sit at the same table and hold court – as passerby comes to great them – one knows ones place at Le Cirque.
But for all of the pageantry, the food is divine. From start to finish; from first bite to last – we loved everything. And though my guest and I were both star struck we held our wits long enough to savor the food and sip the wine and postulate how one day we could be like Barbara – having admirers come to to pay their respects.
We decided (or one might say we really didn’t have any other choice) on the five-course Le Cirque Classic tasting menu. Developed over a thirty year period its highlights include foie gras ravioli whose creaminess and velvety texture made us swoon and flashed in our minds a life not easily attained or forgotten. Or perhaps the paupiette of black cod with leeks, potatoes and rocca di frassinello sauce introduced by Chef Boulud in the 1980’s - its complexity of taste and depth of flavor intrigued our palates and it was as if we could have made love with the dish. Desserts were just as delicious and every morsel of the crème brûlée “Le Cirque” designed by Dieter Schorner in 1982 was eaten and if it had been appropriate I would have liked the plate clean.
Le Cirque is like a glamorous woman (i.e. Sophia Loren) it/she only gets better with age. With an attentive staff, soaring ceiling and a crowd that any other establishment would be envious of, it resides at the summit of fine dining in New York City and is the benchmark with which all other restaurateurs aspire.