Few restaurants in NYC have been so intimately associated with a single personage as Le Cirque with Sirio Maccioni. From its first incarnation in 1974 in the Mayfair Hotel to its reopening in 1997 at the Villard rooms in the Palace Hotel (subsequently the home of Gilt and soon to be the home of a restaurant from Michel Richard) to its present location in the Bloomberg Tower, Maccioini has been there all along, shepherding the iconic restaurant through triumphs and trials and ensuring that its glamorous society crowd feels duly coddled and pampered. Eric Asmiov of the New York Times judges that it was the “most celebrated restaurant in New York in the late 1980’s and early 90’s” when Daniel Boulud was its chef.
Though the restaurant has since lost some of its heyday luster, it is still a formidable presence on the NYC restaurant scene that serves sometimes excellent (and sometimes uneven) French and Italian cuisine in a dramatic, plush atmosphere. The design by Adam Tihany features a shimmering, fiery orange and gold canvas canopy evocative of a circus (an echo of the literal English translation of Le Cirque, but also a witty tribute to the legendary ringmaster-like facility of Maccioni, who also owns Osteria del Circo) and walls trimmed in polished macassar ebony. The best dishes include a torchon foie gras with cherries, balsamic and pistachio, a dover sole meunière and diver scallops “black tie”, with spinach, turnips and truffles. This is a restaurant where a little bit of flamboyance and peacocking is not only tolerated but also celebrated. Le Cirque is a bit of a time capsule to the flushness and excess of the 80s; but that’s OK, as it preserves, relatively intact, the experience of one of the brightest stars in NYC’s culinary firmament of yesteryear for the present generation.
151 E. 58th St.
New York (nr. Lexington Ave.)
212-644-0202 Mon-Fri, 11:45am-2:30pm; Sat, 5:30pm-10:30pm