So, we figured that the wait staff would be entirely too eager to please us and that our meals would be extraordinary as we were no longer incognito.
Too bad we were wrong.
Not that the wait staff was unpleasant. On the contrary, they were quite amicable. The host greeted us knowingly, the reservationist came to our table to welcome us, our main waiter was attentive, but not overbearing. Still, it took too long for someone to bring our menus.
Because we’re not advantage takers, we felt compelled to stick to the Restaurant Week menu. Luckily there were a few options that we hadn’t tried & since one of our previous party couldn’t join, our newest companion was happy to order the dreaded skate. Even the presentation of it was more elegant than the last time–a definite improvement.
However, I didn’t bother to taste it, because I didn’t care. And here’s why: for my second meal at one of New York’s foremost French establishments, I opted for the Saffron Linguine starter. The accompanying sardines, seared and set atop a zucchini/caper relish were delightful–umami and tangy, salty and light, dare I say there were perfect. Unfortunately the dish is called Saffron Linguine & the linguine was possibly the worst pasta I have ever had. Ever. No vibrancy of color one might expect from a saffron dish served at a place with a chi chi circus theme and what’s more, the pasta tasted like nothing more than dirty water and clumped together as if it’d been sitting around since the last time we were there, waiting for some poor soul to order it. Absolutely disgusting. I would have sent it back, but I was already eating for free and I didn’t want to jeopardize the sanitation of my forthcoming courses.
My main: Chicken Ballantine with corn, arugula and maitake salad. The corn was super sweet, too sweet really. I’ll assume it was because of the dressing in which it had been tossed, though I can’t be sure–it is the height of corn season, so maybe Chef just got the bestest of the freshest that day. The chicken was weird. For the most part it was dry, yet occasionally, I bit into a moist, flavorful, delectable bite. How one cooks a roulade unevenly is beyond me. I’m pretty sure the lamest of home-cooks couldn’t manage it.
For dessert: Rocky Road. A caramel panna cotta, topped with chocolate cookie crumbles, chocolate sorbet and toasted marshmallows. Decadent & honestly, pretty good.
The wine was delicious, but I didn’t bother to write it down, something comparable to what we’d had before. All in all, my ultimate review of Le Cirque can be summed up in a single aphorism: meh.
It really was one of the most disappointing dining experiences I’ve ever known. For a place to invite our party back to show they could do better–I simply expected better.