Hello readers!!! I am back after an almost 2 week hiatus. Work has been busy and this month has been craaaaaaaawling by at a snail's pace. Apparently February is the shortest month of the year but it sure as heck doesn't feel like it!!
Now, although I've been busy at work during the week, that doesn't mean I haven't found the time and opportunity to eat! I've mentioned several times already that I LOVE living in Midtown East. Not only is my apartment ultra-close to 3 subway lines, but it's also within walking distance to so many wonderful haute French restaurants. French food is without a doubt one of my top three favorite cuisines (my other two favorites being Japanese and Chinese [and all its variations], since I can't live without rice!) - there simply isn't a better combination than the top quality food and top notch service inherently found at most classy French restaurants. La Grenouille (53rd between Madison and 5th) and Daniel (65th between Park and Madison) are located in our neighborhood, and a recent discovery, Le Cirque (58th between 3rd and Lexington), is a stone's throw away as well!
My fiance and I headed up to Le Cirque last Friday evening for dinner. They had extended the duration of their Restaurant Week menu, so we were lucky enough to be able to experience it. I've tried a few restaurants during Restaurant Week (ie. Butter, Brasserie, Dos Caminos...) and although it's a wonderful concept for us middle-class folk, the food usually doesn't deliver. Choices are minimal and unoriginal and the quality is not so good, to say the least. In my almost 5 years of living in NYC, I can only recall 2 excellent Restaurant Week experiences I've had, and they were at One if by Land, Two if by Sea, and now Le Cirque.
(58th Street between 3rd and Lexington Avenues)
The only negative thing I have to say about Le Cirque is that upon walking into the lobby, the receptionist directs you to a coat check section before bringing you to your seat. Rather than wait in line to check my coat (which reminds me too much of going to a nightclub), I think it'd be much classier if they had someone at the receptionist counter take our coats for us and check them in on our behalf.
Le Cirque is on the ground floor of a section of the Bloomberg building. The Bloomberg building is a very unique, circular construction, and as such, the restaurant is built in the shape of a semi-circle. The interior feels like a warm and high-class French restaurant, me likey. :) I can't remember what I had for an appetizer (something shrimp-based) but my fiance enjoyed his lamb shank terrine. You can always tell when my fiance is in fine-dining mode when he starts eating reaaaaaally.... slooooooowly... in bite-sized morsels. Usually my eating pace is half as slow as his is (eating family-style with the 3 men of his family is always a harried experience! lol) but when we are eating out at fancy joints, a mysterious sense of calm comes over him and then I'm the one who looks like Miss Piggy. No joke.
My favorite course at Le Cirque was the entree: Berkshire pork belly. I believe this was the second time in my whole life I'd ever had pork belly (the first time being at Casa Mono) and it was PERFECT. Just the right amount of fat crunchiness on top, followed by braised soft texture beneath. I know "pork belly" doesn't exactly sound the most appealing, but I guarantee you will find it has the most delectable combination of softness and crunchiness all in one. Not in the least bit overwhelming. Double credit goes to Le Cirque for offering something as unique as pork belly on their Restaurant Week menu. They could have so easily followed all the other restaurants and had your standard fish and beef prime rib available.
Dessert was also a delight! It was called "milk chocolate milles feuilles" which consisted of soft and delicious milk chocolate sandwiched between two lovely wafers, I think. It was complemented with salted caramel ice cream and was very, VERY good. Sweet, but not rich, which is good for me! Hubby-to-be chose the tiramisu but he definitely preferred mine! So what else is new? :)
Decor/ambience: 4.5 out of 5 (lovely red and gold undertones made for a warm and classy dining experience... minimalist decor is so overrated these days!)
Food: 4.5 out of 5 (10/10 on the entree and dessert, but their bread rolls could have been better...)
Service: 4 out of 5 (not in the 5 star league of Jean Georges and La Grenouille)
Value: 5 out of 5 (GREAT quality 3-course meal for only $35!)
"It" factor: 4.5 out of 5
M&M's overall satisfaction: 4.5 out of 5
Bottom-line: We were HUGELY satisfied and very impressed with this meal. Will definitely be back when I'm next in the mood for pork belly!