Welcome to our list of favorite dining destinations in New York's Hudson Valley and Adirondack regions. We visit restaurants, wineries, barbecues, and a smattering of off the beaten path culinary destinations like maple sugar shacks and fromageries. My friends and I have been dining out together weekly for over twenty years. The locations we write about are our favorite destinations. We are not claiming they are the best, just our favorites. The posts are not "reviews" in the classic sense. - we offer only our picks, not pans. We will leave the criticism to others. We are a happy blog. We much prefer a good bistro to "haute cuisine", especially if they also have a nice bar. We prefer a crock of cassoulet and a bottle of Beaujolais to just about anything else. If you enjoy simple home style rustic cooking with a decent (but not too expensive) bottle of wine, then pull up a chair and join us.

This Month's "Well Said!"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

Ferran Andria

Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Chef's Tasting at Le Cirque

Le Cirque
151 East 58th, Beacon Court
New York, NY 10022
Reservations - 212 644 0202
Closed Sundays

Le Cirque's Kitchen
As our party of seven gathered near the bar waiting for an escort to our table in the kitchen, a most recognizable figure  - the Patron, Sirio Maccioni - sat in reception just inside the front entrance greeting regulars.  We had come by this special invitation to a "chef's tasting" in the restaurant's kitchen in the circuitous way that these things sometimes happen when you're lucky - a friend of a friend who knew somebody who worked in the kitchen. Our sponsor for the evening was the restaurant's grill chef - Christina Towers.  An earlier scheduled date had been scuttled because of some changes in staff. Olivier Reginensi, the new executive chef, had just come on board, and Christina suggested we wait for the kitchen to settle in to its new routine before we drove down.

Le Cirque offers a six course Chef's Tasting menu for a very reasonable $135 per person (plus wine). Because of our "connection" we enjoyed an employee discount, and a few additional courses mysteriously appeared throughout the evening.
The first course was a daurade ceviche, a citrus marinated sea bream, fresh and brightly seasoned with some cilantro and plated with slices of avacado and carrot salad. Paired with a bubbly glass of Champagne Ayala, we were off to a good start.

Rina and Chef Christina Towers
A pair of roasted langoustines arrived soon after, perched on some zucchini and asparagus au pesto. A ricotta gnocchi, the first of two pasta courses, arrived with some early spring Oregon morels. What could possibly be better than spring morels?  Actually the next course. When the captain presented the the paupiette of black bass, he announced it was the Le Cirque's "signature dish". It truly was a wonderful preparation, with a mandolined sliver of potato seared to a crispy - almost potato chip crispy - finish, and wrapped around the still moist and delicately flaky sea bass. It was drizzled with a sauce made from a red wine reduction of Rocca di Frassinello. Not Rambler's typical bistro fare by any stretch but I think I could get used to it. Just fabulous.    

A perfectly pink seared duck breast was served with enough vegetables to make Mary happy, tiny heirloom radishes, braised petite turnips, and a real treat - some Ligurian Tagiasche cured olives.  It was enough to distract your attention from the main attraction, the duck.

Just when we thought we were finishing up the last course of tropical sorbets and frozen pineapple yogurt, a second dessert course arrived.  It was a large enough selection of candies and pastries to startle the most fervent chocoholic, along with piping hot chocolate souflees and creme brulee and table favors for the ladies - miniature travel size jewelry boxes filled with house made chocolates.  Over the top it was, and that is an appropriate description for a restaurant whose name means "the circus". We were indeed treated to a three ring spectacular.

If you do stop in please let our other readers know about your visit in the comments section.
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Le Cirque on Urbanspoon
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