Follow posts tagged #woody allen, #annie hall, and #diane keaton in seconds.Sign up
Review: Le Cirque Restaurant, 151 E. 58th St., New York
My rating: 3 1/2 Stars
Le Cirque is a famous restaurant in New York - you might recall in Woody Allen’s film “The Mighty Aphrodite” Woody’s Character’s wife (played by Helena Bonham Carter) asks him to come to dinner at Le Cirque with some friends of hers as she tries to open her own art gallery. It is known for its circus tent decor, and framed prints as well as dinner plates that feature circus animals. Here is the table setting plate featuring a monkey that was on my table when I arrived for dinner:
One interesting fact about Le Cirque is that before making it big with his own restaurants, celebrity-chef Daniel Boulud was the executive chef at Le Cirque from 1986 to 1992. Boulud went on to open restaurants in New York, Palm Beach, and most recently the ‘Cafe Boulud’ in Toronto.
Here is a photo of the seating area when I arrived. It is empty only because I dined early tonight as I’m seeing Tom Hanks on stage in the Nora Ephron play “Lucky Guy” after dinner tonight. When I left the restaurant was full - indeed it is sometimes difficult to get a reservation here as it is a very popular place.
Here is a close up of one of the prints you can see on the wall of dogs jumping through hoops:
For dinner tonight I started with a lobster risotto. Le Cirque’s theme color is red, so the risotto had a red hue to it:
You can see the plates has two monkeys on it, with joined tails. The joined tails is cute in a romantic way if one is here with a date as it would be a funny conversation piece - it made me think of Emma and I momentarily, but I didn’t dwell on that. The risotto was good, not the best I’ve had, but quite enjoyable.
For my main course I ordered the house special - soft-shell crab. Maryland soft-shell crab is in season now, and I often like to have it this time of year. My favorite soft-shell crab is served at a French restaurant in Great Falls, Virginia (just outside of Washington, D.C.) called L’Auberge Chez Francois, and I dine there whenever I am in the D.C. area - they do this dish to perfection. The Le Cirque soft-shell crab was good, though not up to Chez Francois standards. Here is a photo of the Le Cirque offering as it arrived at my table:
For dessert they had many nice choices. I opted for the Crepes Suzette as I always enjoy this dish. At Le Cirque they prepare this table side, in a dramatic way, which is appropriate for a restaurant called ‘the circus’:
Here the waiter makes my Crepes Suzette by my table. When he ignites the Grand Marnier we are in for quite a show. Here it goes:
Haha - light, camera, action! This flame is intentional and people at the nearby tables can’t help but look at the show and applaud.
The end result is my Crepes Suzette on a plate in front of me. It was very good, and despite the flames not burnt or overcooked. I think this was the highlight of the meal for me - a great dessert - very tasty!
Le Cirque gets a lot of celebrities, and tonight New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg was dining here. I was leaving just as he was arriving. My driver had pulled his Cadillac up to the door to pick me up and take me to the theater for the play, but had to move his car out of the way so that the Mayor’s motorcade could pull up. I got in the car and my driver and I waited for the Mayor to exit his Cadillac SUV and enter Le Cirque, and once he was inside the restaurant we got the all clear from the Mayor’s security detail to drive on. If I hadn’t dined early in order to see the play he might have been at the table near my own - who knows. As it was, I am happy to be going to see Tom Hanks live on stage as I have a great seat close to the stage and really liked his films ‘Big’ and ‘The Money Pit’.
Review: 21 Club, New York - Drinking in the History.
Few restaurants in the world conjure up the history and glamor of New York’s 21 Club. I have had the pleasure of dining here multiple times and each visit is something I look forward to.
My Rating: Four Stars
The Front entrance of 21 Club: 21 W. 52nd St., New York - I took this photo prior to going inside.
Historical glamor: Marilyn Monroe at the 21 Club in 1955:
Chim & Marilyn Monroe at the 21 Club, 1952:
The 21 Club is a celebrity hotspot to this day, with a who’s who list of A-list actors and famous individuals making it their destination of choice. 21 Club has been featured or mentioned in numerous films over the years: in Woody Allen’s ‘Manhattan Murder Mystery’, in Whit Stillman’s ‘Metropolitan’, and don’t forget Grace Kelly mentioning ordering Jimmy Stewart’s dinner from the 21 Club for delivery to him in his apartment in Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’. What gentleman wouldn’t want Grace Kelly to take care of him? Grace Kelly is in my opinion the most attractive actress in the history of Hollywood.
Ernest Hemingway was reported to have said to a bartender at the 21 Club ” Since I’m not drinking, I’ll just have a tequila”.
More recently: Alec Baldwin photographed at 21 Club.
So, let us get down to my visit. Service is friendly and welcoming, as always. I was looking forward to trying the Great Gatsby drink offered presently at the bar, as a tie-in with the film. The cocktail they call “The Beautiful Fool” - a reference to the Daisy Buchanan’s character in the movie and the book.
Carey Mulligan playing Daisy Buchanan in “The Great Gatsby”
Here is the drink as it arrived at my table (I sat at table 25 on this visit):
The Beautiful Fool is made with Gin, St. Germain (elderflower), Chamomile Syrup, Lemon Juice and Grapefruit Juice.
Here is a photo a colleague took of me holding my “Beautiful Fool” cocktail at the 21 Club:
Obviously ordering a Gatsby-themed drink called “The Beautiful Fool” made me think of Emma. I remember the last time I embraced her at the Four Seasons in Toronto a long time ago. However, let me talk a bit about the drink’s name:
In the book as well as in the film, Daisy Buchanan says that when her daughter was born she hoped she would be a beautiful fool. This phrase F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in because his own wife Zelda said the same thing in 1921 when their daughter ‘Scottie’ was born. What Daisy meant was that she saw through people and society, and thus had trouble being happy. A beautiful fool would have a happy life as she would never see past the psychological defense mechanisms - the masks - that people put on, and would thus be happy all the time. To be able to see as a writer sees is sort of to exit the world of innocence and face the reality. So, wishing to spare her daughter the perceptive ability to see things as they are is Daisy’s wish.
Is Emma a beautiful fool in the Gatsby context? Well, she attended a top girls private school and then went on to a top-ranked university and graduated with honors, so she is quite intelligent. She acts like she is a beautiful fool, but I think it is a veneer and that beneath the surface she, like Zelda Fitzgerald, has a writer’s insight into the world. She just hides it and pretends she doesn’t have it - and maybe she is all the more clever for doing so as people tend to underestimate her as a result. Food for thought as I drink my cocktail.
I ordered for my appetizer Beefsteak tomatoes with blue cheese, which were good, though it isn’t tomato season yet so they weren’t as ripe as they could have been if I had visited later in the season. For my main course I had the Dover sole (a favorite dish of mine) and it was very nice. Here is a photo of it as it arrived:
My favorite Dover sole is at the Four Seasons Restaurant as I mentioned in a previous review, but 21 Club dos an excellent one too - it is really splitting hairs to pick as they are both delicious.
The highlight of my meal was the dessert: they make the best Vanilla Ice Cream Profiteroles in town, and today they had homemade pistachio ice cream on the menu too, so it was going to be a tough choice. However, my waiter, seeing my indecision, suggested the kitchen make me a custom dessert of pistachio ice cream profiteroles. I agreed, and it was the best ice cream profiteroles I have ever had. Now that is great service from a classic restaurant! The next best thing to Grace Kelly seeing to my dining needs haha. This is one reason why I love the 21 Club and return here often.
My custom dessert:
They deserve their accolades at 21 Club:
Some art in the restaurant from years past showing scenes at 21 Club:
A great meal, and food for thought as well.
A photo I took from the inside looking out: the view from 21 Club:
The Bar room at 21 in this stock photo, showing the toys hanging from the ceiling.