Bread Basket: Pretzel, Walnut Olive, French Baguette w/ salted and unsalted butter. The Baguette was crunchy and perfect for soaking up sauces, the pretzel crispy and salty outside and buttery soft inside, and the olive walnut simply sublime. Better Pretzel than Mastros or Yankee Stadium, Better olive than Gramercy Tavern. Runner up to Spago for best basket all time. Better yet - After the first three courses I'd eaten one piece of each and went to grab another piece of Baguette for sauces when the waiter whisked it away and replaced it with a piping hot fresh basket stating "it isn't as good when it cools."
Course One: Lobster Salad w/ avocado, frisee, hericot vert, black truffle - A Le Cirque classic and for very good reason. Beautifully poached lobster over a puree of avocado and hericot verts, a layer or frisse, and a drizzle of black truffle dressing topped with a shaved black truffle. Delicious as it was decadent, a beautiful way to start. (note: the truffle was fresh and quite good, but certainly more for effect than taste....like plastic surgery on a super model....it was already great, but here is that extra unnecessary touch.)
Course four: Paupiette of Sea Bass with Pinot Noir sauce, crispy potato skin, microgreens and shredded savoy cabbage - Another Le Cirque classic and another winner in every way. Perfectly poached bass with a crispy paper-thin skin served over a crispy salad and covered with a sauce that can only be described as heavenly. Sweet and winelike yet bold and buttery, refined yet complex....more bread, please.
Course five: Organic chicken w/ Foie gras macaroni, truffle, asparagus, tomato compote - My second substitution as I don't favor beef and a second wonderful choice. Clean and tasty chicken with thin shavings of black tuffle beneath the crispy skin served over a layer of long handmade macaroni and a transcendent sauce of mushroom puree and foie gras. Wonderfully crisp asparagus and a beautifully complex grilled tomato compote lent additional flavors to the dish, as well.
Palate Cleanser: Tequila Sorbet with gold leaf, dragon fruit, dinosaur plum, coconut milk, and edible bowl - More pineapple than tequila, this sorbet was divine and a mere sign of things to come. The fruit compote was delectable and the coconut milk wonderful for offsetting the citrus. I'd like to say I knew the bowl was edible, but initially when I broke it I was worried....I think this was expected as my server then stepped in to suggest I "try a bite." The gold leaf....we'll chalk that up to extravagance, it had no flavor.
Dessert Fantasy: With common sense getting the better of me I actually excused myself from the table prior to dessert and went for a short walk in the Bellagio garden to help digest. Good idea, because the word fantasy was appropriate as I was brought not one, but two full portions. Really, is there ever "too much of a good thing?"
Dessert number one - Chocolate Souffle with creme anglais, vanilla bean icecream: No cutting the top off here, instead pushing a conical sphere of icecream into the center and watching the molten chocolate from beneath erupt over top - impressive....and delicious. Light and airy, perfect and fluffy, slight hints of chicory. Everything a souffle should be, yet so large that it went unfinished...or perhaps that was because option two was even better.
Dessert number two - Ice bowl with cherry ice, yuzu cream, strawberry sorbet, marinaded cherries: Appearing as a white cloud with pink flecks on presentation and suddenly erupting into swirl of colors with the addition of the sorbet, another unique presentation and even better flavor. Flawless and smooth lemon cream over a bed of cherries, perfectly tart sorbet...a contrast of warm and cold, crispy and creamy, tart and mellow...one of the best desserts to ever grace my tongue.
Petit Fours - Lemon Meringue, Cherry Marshmallow, Strawberry Tart, Macaroon, Banana Cream puff, chocolate pretzel: As though the gluttony of the meal was not enough 6 petit fores finally arrived with all being beautiful, well constructed, and tasty, but the tart and cream puff simply fantastic.
Finally, completely full, the check arrived along with a leather and gold jewelry box containing two truffles which were consumed the following afternoon. The first a cocoa dusted dark chocolate and the second a creamy vanilla with coconut flakes. Both, again, were wonderful.
All told, the meal was unlike anything I'd previously experienced. Wonderful food, stellar ambiance, and the service lacking in no department. In a city like no other, a city that has something for almost anyone, its hard to get lost in the shuffle....to get overlooked in the big picture. With the recent influx of Savoy, Robuchon, Stratta, and others I think Le Cirque has become overlooked. From the moment I first contacted them for a complete menu to the moment I walked out the door I can honestly say Le Cirque was perfection.