Le Cirque — 2 stars

Le Cirque, a French restaurant on midtown’s East Side, is a New York institution. It has been around for decades and can be counted on for “old school” classic dishes like foie gras and lobster thermidor. But how does it treat vegetarians? As it turns out, this New York culinary mainstay isn’t that great for the herbivores among us, and the food, though potentially promising, misses the mark.

The lunch menu features a three-course prix fixe. Certain dishes involve a supplement to the basic price, but as you can probably guess, the vegetarian dishes do not.

I started with the comte cheese souffle, which was okay:  the outside had formed a nice crust, and the souffle itself was light. The center was more dense, with a melted cheese texture. The souffle actually didn’t fall for quite a while after I started eating it.

There was no vegetarian main course, so the waiter had the cheese ravioli (pictured at the top of this post), normally an appetizer, prepared as my main course. The dish was very simply prepared, but it missed the mark. The ravioli itself seemed slightly undercooked, and it was far too buttery. The tomato sauce in the center was very acidic and tangy, which just didn’t go well with the buttery ravioli.

For dessert I had the rhubarb and lemongrass panna cotta. I liked the panna cotta, and the base — pistachio financier —  was great. I also liked the rhubarb, which was fresh and seasonal.  I was a little surprised, because I’m generally not a fan of rhubarb. Dessert was probably the highlight of the meal.

All in all, Le Cirque was a decent experience. There are some varied vegetarian first course selections (leeks vinaigrette, salad, the souffle, the ravioli), but no standard main course is vegetarian. As for the choices themselves, they were fine, but did not stand out in any way. The ravioli (which I think I also had last year, but now I don’t remember) was just a miss. The souffle was good but not noteworthy; dessert was probably the best part of the meal. Two stars.

Le Cirque’s Lunch Menu is below. (Return to the body of the post.)

I didn’t get a shot of the dessert menu, but these were the choices:

DESSERT DU CIRQUE

Crème Brûlée “Le Cirque”
celebrating thirty years of our original recipe 12

Chocolate Soufflé
traditional chocolate soufflé with vanilla gelato 12

Floating Island “Le Cirque”
baked meringue and crème anglaise 12

Rhubarb and Lemongrass Pannacotta
pistachio financier, rhubarb sorbet 12

Strawberry Pell Farm Vacherin
strawberry sorbet vanilla ice cream, basil syrup, fresh berries, crème chantilly 12

Toffee Pudding
pecan ice cream and whiskey foam 12

Pineapple Tart
coconut sorbet, passion fruit coulis 12

Selection of Ice Creams and Sorbets 12
house made ice cream and sorbet

What are your thoughts?