Restaurant week in New York...Click here for info NYC Restaurant Week
My favorite dates involve the beach, food or photography. Not necessarily in that order and if I can include more than one in any particular outing, well it is certainly a 5 star experience.
We previewed the menus available on the restaurant week website and my narrowing down system involved sharing the links with the Mr. to decide which ones had appealing dishes for him as well. It's funny, when it comes to food, I am the one more willing to experiment although he claims to be more of an adventure/thrill seeker in life. He's not really, but don't tell.
The decision is made, we will be heading to Le Cirque. Click here for more on Le Cirque.
An uneventful drive, the modern age of GPS has made driving in and around NYC far less scary. I have a harder time actually figuring out public transportation and as far as cost, well, when you average parking and gas vs. train tickets (we would still have to drive 40 minutes or so to the station) it seems pretty break even to me.
Ahead of schedule, we wander around a bit before our reservation. Here's what it looks like from the street:
and one of the bonus' of eating in NY is I can be a tourist as much as I want. In fact, I wasn't even going to take these photographs until I saw a man doing the same.
We killed a little time in Bloomingdale's and walking around the block taking in the sights.
Although still early, we headed into the restaurant, checked our coats and sat for just a few minutes in the lobby/bar area. We noticed the extreme 27' wine tower (I looked up the statistics) and the various ways the dining rooms could be shifted for privacy of celebrities.
Yes, Le Cirque is French and the literal translation is The Circus. A few years of high school French were worth something. I notice the elephant just inside the entrance.
Something to look at everywhere. The cocktail menu and wine list keeps me quietly amused for the few more moments until we are seated at our table.
We are presented with both the regular dining menu and the Restaurant Week offerings. We never even opened the regular menu and with having previewed the specials online before arrival, we are already fairly certain about our choices.
Not a word I use often, but the dining room is whimsical. The ceiling of umbrellas or parasols...
We are asked about water choices, still or sparkling. Still. Bottle or tap. Bottle. If is a flu epidemic after all and a woman already coughed directly on my head while on line for the coat check.
The bread basket choices were all sampled and wonderful. Dark bread with raisins and nuts, herbed and salted "rolls" and an airy on the inside, crusty exterior almost mini-baguette were all lovely.
I decide to include a cocktail and order the Forest Breeze. As you can see, a healthy layer of fruit is included so I am already off to a nutritious start.
The Mr.'s first course arrives. Can you guess?
Yes, you are correct - French Onion Soup!
I sample the soup and the broth is lovely. It has the correct balance of body and delicacy. The onions are a manageable size for the spoon and the bread yields easily to the spoon.
My starter is the Winter Orichette Pasta which includes mussels and chorizo. This combination can never be bad.
Over the past few years, I have actually had my fill of braised short ribs. Yes, the meat is tender, delicate and overall simply wonderful. It is served on a lovely pillow of creamy mashed potatoes and topped with crispy kale (I ate the kale, the Mr. pushed it aside) and the carrot is fork tender and sweet. However, it is no longer "new" to me and so I order the Merlu.
The fish is served over butternut squash with a parsley puree. And yes, I have noticed all of the cute monkeys on the various dishes. Such a nice touch. The fish is dense with a crispy outer layer, yet moist and succulent.
For dessert, the Mr. order the Fine Apple Tart. If he can have apple pie in any form, this is what he will order. I try a bite and it is quite light and flaky.
He also asks for a cup of coffee. This was one area of the service I thought odd. We were not asked if we would like coffee or tea with dessert. An oversight? Our desserts waited, but we continued chatting away and glancing at the Inauguration on the television in the dining room. Odd?
The Mr. has stories about his grandmother taking things, salt and pepper shakers, silverware, small glasses, sugar bowls, whatever, from restaurants when he was a child. She would simply put whatever it was she wanted in her purse and take it home. He jokes I should put the creamer in my bag. I would never, but then he asks me to seriously pick it up. Heavy. I comply for his amusement - to pick it up, not take it.
My dessert was a bit camera shy for some reason. I could not get the shot I wanted with pleasing lighting, but here it is... the chocolate cake with a cannelle of ice cream and chocolate bits that remind me of the layer in a Carvel cake. I'm sure that is not the reference the chef would like to hear, but it is the most familiar to many.
Honestly, I didn't care that much for the cake. It wasn't bad, it simply wasn't fabulous. The ice cream was delicious and again, I loved the monkey.
Something else I noticed, the restaurant does NOT want you to forget for one second where you are - not that anyone would. It is Le Cirque after all.
Yes, I did think of my mother and the circus during my lunch date. My first memory of the circus was the big tent and the bleacher style seats, the man who walked around selling cotton candy and another with popcorn, the animal acts and Ring Master. How lucky was I to go to the circus? How lucky am I to dine with the Mr. at Le Cirque?
Our date is over and we head home. It is a holiday, it is Martin Luther King Day, it is the second inauguration of President Obama, it is a Monday and we have been Fed Well, together.