Thursday, June 01, 2006


Le Cirque: All Buzz, No Honey

I have a confession to make: CultureGrrl is not the shlepper (Rosten, P. 351) she pretends to be. Thanks (but no thanks) to this morning's Getty Museum press breakfast, she has now eaten at Le Cirque in its three incarnations---more times than she ever chowed down at Dunkin' Donuts. And she has always found the reality of Le Cirque to be less exalted than the hype---this time, at the recently opened new facility, FAR less.

To answer my question in my previous post, Sirio Maccioni was not in evidence when I arrived at 9 a.m., but he was conspicuously obstreperous by the time I left. Sitting at the bar by the front entrance, he was chewing out one of his sons (Marco, I believe) right in front of me, as I was about to head for the street.

Sirio (testily): Tell them we are out of Dover sole! Don't change anything!

Marco (with irritation): We are all sitting down here having wine, while there's a disaster up there! (Walks away in a huff.)

They weren't referring to the Getty event (no fish on that menu---not even lox for the bagels). But while it was no culinary nightmare, the Getty spread certainly did nothing to entice me back for dinner or even lunch. If you didn't grab some watery orange juice from a tray while you were standing and shaking Michael Brand's hand, you were out of luck once you sat down at the table. There it was only tepid coffee or water, along with your basic fruit, bagels with plain cream cheese and some ho-hum scrambled eggs.

To my horror, Dannon yogurt was proferred in individual plastic containers---the ones you can pick up in the grocery store. We were assured by the Getty people that there would be a third course of dessert delicacies, and I dutifully waited, in order to report back to you. Nothing came. (So I went and got me some Donuts!)

Jean Georges and Daniel remain my two favorite New York City restaurants, but I had recent tidings of a true disaster at the latter: My daughter's former housemate Finch (he asked me to use only his nickname), now a Cornell Hotel School graduate who has been hired to cook at Per Se, was auditioning last month in the kitchens of various elite restaurants. He told me that he was at Daniel (which occupies Le Cirque's former space at the Mayfair Hotel), when the New York Times' restaurant critic, Frank Bruni, got a bit more than he had ordered---a tray of dirty dishes, accidentally dropped on his table.

Daniel's last Times review, four stars, was by William Grimes in 2001. He called the service "a model of professionalism," which it usually is.

Are they now shuddering in anticipation of a brutal Bruni?

(You were maybe expecting me to write about the Getty? Would CultureGrrl ever let you down? Patience, art-lings!)

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