n EVENING at Le Cirque Signature is not only about food. If you have owner Mario Maccioni for company, the conversation can cover a whole range of topics – from his father, the 84-year-old doyen of the iconic Le Cirque restaurant empire, Sirio Maccioni (who still visits the New York restaurant twice daily), to the pros and cons of being an Apple fan. Rest assured, the food will be excellent, the wines perfectly matched and the company stimulating.
It was a perfect Bangalore evening on the terrace of the Leela Palace. Mario, his favourite cocktail – the champagne mojito — in hand, was chatting about politics (he’s a Libertarian, somewhere between a Democrat and a Republican), and Bikram yoga (his wife Maria is away at a yoga retreat).
The cocktail sets the mood for the six courses to follow. In the private dining room, Frank Sinatra (a Le Cirque regular back in the day) is crooning Fly Me to the Moon. Maccioni, a political scientist by qualification, found his calling as a restaurateur during a summer spent at Le Cirque at 17, manning the phones. Few restaurants in the history of fine-dining have seen such famous faces dining there, many indulging in the famous three-martini lunches of the day. From presidents to the pope, they have all walked through the Le Cirque doors. “The restaurant was always full, juggling reservations was the hardest thing,” he recalls. “I’d often hear, ‘Do you know who I am?’ if I turned down a booking.”
Between spoonfuls of his simple yet stunning white and green asparagus
oup, Maccioni points out that the magic of food lies in the quality of the ingredients. My lobster bisque is equally stunning, and I agree. My favourite Le Cirque dish, the Pecorino créme brulée is followed by the tubetti pasta stuffed with duck ragu. The mastery of chef Matteo Boglione is evident in each of the six courses, seamless service underlining the whole effort. Vegetarians need not despair. Many Le Cirque’s signature vegetarian dishes like the black truffle risotto have garnered rave reviews.
Maccioni takes us for a quick dekko to the kitchen. It’s quiet, no reality-show style tantrums in sight, sous chefs working meticulously, torching the créme brulees and assembling the Baked Alaskas. Maccioni’s watched the world’s best chefs up close, from Daniel Boulud to Alain Sailhac, and he understands the perfect success formula. Which is why he’s excited about the newest restaurant opening in the Hamptons this May. With a 14-hour day, a brand new set of staff in a brand new set up, it’ll be challenging yet exciting. He’s ready for it, he says.
With the irresistible Baked Alaska comes the news of a big family visit to India soon – all three generations of Maccionis. “I think my sons would enjoy it, Sirio and Egidiana (his mother, who is behind the Le Cirque cookbooks) too.” Meanwhile, Bangalore diners can enjoy the Le Cirque classics. Just like Sinatra once did.
The Le Cirque Signature limited edition menu is available through May for `6000++. Details: 25211234