Thursday, February 5, 2009

Le Cirque for Restaurant Week

Le Cirque
151 E 58th Street

My girlfriend and I had gone to Le Cirque for restaurant week last summer and loved it, so when I found out that they were extending the $24.07 lunches through February, I jumped on a reservation. We were seated in practically the same seat as last time. Men are required to wear jackets in the dining room where tables sit beneath a domed ceiling and earthy, orange undertones. We are seated at our table and greeted by a waiter carrying a bread tray with French bread and multigrain rolls. I tried the multigrain which was good, but not anything special and could have been softer.

The restaurant week (RW) menu offers diners a choice of appetizer, entrée and dessert for $24.07. Not a bad deal at Le Cirque considering that unlike a lot of other RW menus that offer cheaper versions of normal menu items, the RW menu has normal menu items that normally cost $45 for 2 courses. I started with an order of chestnut pappardelle with veal ragout, mushrooms and topped with candied rosemary, which was sugar-coated and I probably shouldn’t have eaten the entire sprig at once (the taste was a bit overwhelming). The pappardelle, however, was wonderful. I could have licked the bowl if decorum would have allowed it and I was pleasantly surprised by the entrée-sized portion. If I could come back and just order this, I would.

For my entrée, I ordered the steak (medium-rare of course). The RW menu online notes that it is a hanger steak but when we arrived it was another cut. I can’t recall which but the meat was tender, juicy, and cooked medium-rare. The problems lie in the footnotes. “Dried cherry tapenade.” This came very close to ruining the steak. I like olives. I like cherries. I don’t want either coming close to touching my steak, nor with each other. The tapenade was tart, olive-y and not very appetizing. Luckily the steak wasn’t smothered with the sauce and I managed to get through it. The 4 pieces of radicchio on the plate were covered in the sauce and were too bitter to be enjoyed anyway. Potato confit? I guess that’s French for “4 small diced cubes of plain baked potato.” Can I have some more of the pappardelle?

We both ordered the warm chocolate fondant for dessert, which I usually a safe bet to order at a restaurant as it’s fairly simple to make. It was delicious, of course, but didn’t really have any imaginative aspect to it. The cake was served with a spoonful of chocolate ice cream with some crushed peanuts on the bottom.

Was it worth coming back? Absolutely. I loved the pappardelle, liked the steak, and had a satisfying dessert. For $24.07 during restaurant week it’s certainly worth coming for lunch. The service is excellent as you aren’t really assigned one particular waiter, but are aided by an army of well-trained servers. It’s a bit of a high-browed experience but the price is right during RW and I am looking forward to the menu choices in the Summer.


  1. The cherry-olive ruined the steak for me :(

  2. Oh also you forgot to say that the steak is grass-fed!