Sirio-usly?Sirio Maccioni ain’t happy that his designer Adam Tihany worked with Daniel Boulud.
Le Cirque Gets on the Wine-Bar BandwagonAs 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 menu
Related: Grape Nuts [NYM]
Sirio Speaks Out on That Guy From the ‘Times’ … What Did You
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]
Michael ‘Bao’ Huynh Out at Bun; A Le Cirque DocumentaryMichael “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 Lease
A 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]
City to Reenact Calorie-Display Rule; Bloodbath Near Spotlight LiveThe 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]
Jacques Pépin Eats Everything Except Raw FetusesIt was a foodie fantasy last night at the Waldorf-Astoria, where the likes of Daniel Boulud, David Bouley, Sirio Maccioni, Drew Nieporent, and Jacques Pépin had gathered for the lavish annual Food Allergy Ball. We caught up with Jacques Pépin in the grand ballroom before he was to be honored for his valiant fight against cross-contamination. Asked if he had any food allergies himself, the master chef admitted, “No, I don’t,” adding that “I’m a real glutton. I eat anything you put in front of me.” We found that hard to believe from a man known for culinary perfection. “Ask my wife!” he said, so we did. “He’ll eat anything I put in front of him!” Mme. Pépin testified. Still, we wondered if old Jacques can be a diva at home — had he ever pronounced Lady Pépin’s grub “unacceptable”? “Are you kidding? She’d put it on my head, I say that!”
Eight-Cent Falafels Worth Every Penny in the East Village; Chris Lee Has aCobble Hill: Sahadi’s might have a fancy new sign to flaunt at Trader Joe’s, but are they cutting corners to compete? The Brooklyn Paper reports that customers are “fuming that the grocer has replaced the classic glass jars with generic plastic containers in the nuts, dried fruits and candies section.” [Brooklyn Heights Blog]
East Village: Next Friday, Tasty Falafel on St. Marks Place will sell sandwiches for 8 cents each from 4 to 9 p.m. and host a falafel-eating contest at 6. [Gridskipper]
Lower East Side: A new wine bar is on the way, and Gino and Guido are now accepting applications in the TRE space at 173 Ludlow. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Midtown East: Gilt has announced that chef Chris Lee has spent $8,000 on a 1.51-pound white truffle, which is “significantly larger than the truffle that Sirio Maccioni of Le Cirque won in a highly publicized October bidding.” We wonder what GM Elli Jafari thinks about that tougher tuber. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Upper East Side: Serendipity 3 has pushed back its reopening from tonight to December 5, after being closed by the DOH. [Eater]
Who Is Le Cirque’s Mystery Ragamuffin?Brave is the man who strolls into Le Cirque without a jacket: Woody Allen once made the front page of the Post when he was turned away after doing just that, and Frank Zappa, upon being forced to wear one, famously told Sirio, “This better be the best fucking meal of my life … If I don’t like this meal, you’re paying for the suit.” (They went on to become buddies.) We were intrigued, then, when the subject of yesterday’s Ask a Waiter column, Elli Jafari, told us that to this day, just one man is allowed to break the rules. “He normally wears a sweater and a vest,” is all she would give us. “He’s one of the richest people in New York City.” Any Le Cirque regulars — or astute hypothesizers — want to speculate as to who this frowsy fat cat might be? Here’s a clue: We hear his personal life isn’t so perfect. Your guesses in the comments below, please.
Earlier: Elli Jafari Tells You How to Order Like a VIP at Le Cirque
Have White Truffles Finally Gone Too Far?We have some bad news. The bagel, that beloved, affordable symbol of New York cuisine, has gentrified. Chef Frank Tujague of the Westin hotel in Times Square (where else?) has unveiled the $1,000 white-truffle bagel, “topped with white truffle cream cheese and goji berry infused Riesling jelly with golden leaves.” Now we love all truffles, far too much to ever be so rash as to declare them to be so over, and there may not be a thing on earth that’s not improved by them (we’ve even considered using truffle oil as conditioner — it probably works wonders for split ends). But now that truffles are toying with the doughy purity of simple bagels, we have to wonder: Is this white-truffle thing not getting just a bit too precious?
Back of the House
Read All About Restaurant Bloggers; Everybody Loves GnudiThe Amateur Gourmet interviews Mario Batali, but he’s too starstruck to get tough with the chef (like he did with Sirio). One highlight: Batali insists that you can in fact drink a whole case of wine in one sitting. [Serious Eats]
It’s not an official review or anything, but Bruni ate at Maremma and wasn’t crazy about it. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
There are apparently a number of New York City “food bloggers” who have some influence on the restaurant business. [NYT]
The Other Critics
The Amateur Gourmet Goes Power Mad
Everyone likes a free meal, and bloggers are especially adept at schnorring them from restaurants who hope for good publicity in return. But no one does it with quite the audacity of the Amateur Gourmet, the world-class mooch whose Wellfed food-blog award we recently lauded. In a new post on Serious Eats, the Gourmet treats us to an especially shocking dose of his trademark hubris.