As the fashion for haute cuisine falls away, the more casual wine bar has become a kind of economic savior for the city's classic high-end chefs — one reason, as we noted in our Fall Preview year, the likes of Daniel Boulud and Alain Ducasse have embraced the genre wholeheartedly. (It's easier to lure customers into wine bars, and wine is a much higher-profit item than food.) Now Le Cirque has gotten into the act, opening its new wine bar tonight. Says the restaurant’s legendary owner, Sirio Maccioni: “Our new wine lounge is a more casual side of Le Cirque, with chaise longues and where no jackets are required. We wanted to offer something, in our lounge, without all the rigueur of the dining room.” The centerpiece of the wine bar is an immense wine tower, with, according to Maccioni, “20,000 bottles of wine and the right menu to go with it.” Somehow it just doesn’t seem right to go to Le Cirque without a jacket, though — no matter how many bottles of wine they have.
Le Cirque wine-bar menuRelated: Grape Nuts [NYM]
Each week, we highlight one of the city’s great but obscure young chefs.Name: Jason Kallert
Restaurant: Le CirqueBackground: Kallert is a CIA graduate who, after time spent under the late Patrick Clark at Tavern on the Green and Union Pacific with Rocco DiSpirito, began a long association with Le Cirque, outlasting three executive chefs: Sottha Kuhnn at the original Le Cirque, Pierre Schaedelin at Le Cirque 2000 and the current iteration of the restaurant, and his replacement, Christophe Bellanca.
Self-described style: “Very simple and traditional. I’m not into too much technical stuff or using crazy Asian flavors and herbs. If garlic and thyme goes with lamb, I use garlic and thyme. I’m not as creative as some chefs. I like a classic approach.”
During last night's CB3 meeting, partner Andrew Salmon would reveal only that Momofuku Ko will hit capacity at fourteen, with no waiters and with fixed menus changing daily. “You sit directly across from the cook,” Salmon told the board. He kept the “vaguely Asian” food quiet, conceding only that it would include “all local ingredients all sustainable development.” Unfortunately, he didn’t take the time to make sure a petition was including in the application, so no motion could be passed. Projected opening date: two weeks' time!
Fashion Week brought the usual celebrity infestation to town last week for glitzy after-parties, but we’ve already covered those. The real question is, where did the “normals” catch a bite? And of course by normals we mean billionaires, Nobel Prize winners, and Super Bowl champs, all of whom made the scene this week.
There’s an entertaining and incisive interview with Le Cirque's Sirio Maccioni at Portfolio today. Lloyd Grove presses the great man on his feelings about the New York Times critic ("Frank Bruni, if that's his name"), the firing of chef Pierre Schaedelin ("Pierre could have stayed"), and what it takes to make a restaurant work on that level in New York ("Here you need to do a minimum of $12 million a year. Otherwise we are broke"). The interview was done before the Times restored the restaurant's third star, so there's a lot of fire there. Things seem to be better now: We stopped in the other night, and Sirio's son Mario told us that after the review, “My father didn't yell at anybody for four days.”
World According To…Sirio Maccioni [Portfolio via Gawker]
Who says Frank Bruni has no heart? After demoting Le Cirque last year, Bruni restores the third star, courtesy largely to new chef Christophe Bellanca’s masterly handling of ultraluxe ingredients and, of course, the Maccioni family’s trademark feudal service. [NYT]
Maybe you don’t consider the salmon at Dovetail “a religious experience,” the way Restaurant Girl does, but everyone seems to agree with Adam Platt that it’s a very fine restaurant and outrageously good for the Upper West Side. [NYDN]
Related: This Dove Flies
Ryan Sutton has filed the first review of Adour, and he makes it sound, at least to anachronistically minded readers, truly awesome. Did you know Adour is serving lobster thermidor? Lobster thermidor! In this day and age! Sutton is also impressed by the virtual wine list, as most other visitors have been. [Bloomberg]
Starting today, the Port Authority is accepting early bids from developers for control of a two-story restaurant atop the Freedom Tower, with a grand opening slated for early 2013. [The Real Estate/NYO]
More bad news about the FDA: It’s “so understaffed that, at its current pace, the agency would need at least 27 years to inspect every foreign medical device plant that exports to the United States, 13 years to check every foreign drug plant and 1,900 years to examine every foreign food plant.” [NYT]
Le Cirque’s Restaurant Week menus are such a hit that the Maccioni clan is going to make them available every weekday in February. [Zagat]
Michael “Bao” Huynh has left his post at Bun, saying he couldn’t get along with his partner. Next up: a new noodle shop in Tribeca. [Insatiable Critic]
Burgerphilia: a new term about burger obsessives we won’t be using. [Time]
Related: Daniel Boulud’s Downtown Burger Place Finally Signs the LeaseA Table in Heaven, a documentary that looks at Le Cirque’s move from the Palace Hotel to the Bloomberg building, was screened at the Sundance Film Festival and promises to show Sirio Maccioni’s tendency to exceed the restaurant’s 2 percent cap on free meals. [NYDN]
The city’s Board of Health is set to reenact its legally contested rule requiring all restaurants with fifteen or more eateries nationwide to post the caloric value of food items on their menus. [NYDN]
Related: Fast-Food Biz Wins Fight Against City Hall
Restaurants and nightclubs currently owe the city $14 million in health-code violation fines, which means that high-roller venues like the Rainbow Room can get away with stiffing the city out of $50. [NYP]
Times Square’s Spotlight Live became the latest scene of club violence when one man was killed and five others stabbed there yesterday morning. [NYDN]