I know why I read restaurant reviews: To dine vicariously. This one had me jealously hooting.
Frank Bruni's review of Le Cirque, a New York restaurant of luxury and privilege that "connotes a culinary pecking order by which the rich and famous get the best tables and others get to breathe the same air," may be my only taste of the landmark restaurant this year.
Here's a bite, from Wednesday's New York Times:
I also experienced Le Cirque's famously split personality, half dismissive and half pampering, depending on who you are. On my first visit, when a companion and I arrived before the two other members of our party, a host let us know we should wait in the bar area not by asking or telling us to go there but by gesturing silently in that direction with his head. Most of the seats were occupied, so we stood. Over the next 10 minutes, no one asked us if we wanted a drink or anything else.
After we were taken to our table, servers seemed to figure out who I was and offered to move us to prime real estate with better sightlines. (We declined.)
So on a subsequent visit I sent three friends in ahead of me. One sat at the bar for 15 minutes without getting a server's attention, and a bartender quarreled with the two others when they asked that the charges for their Champagne be transferred to the table.
But I was treated like royalty when I showed up, and on another night, when I dined with a filmmaker whom the staff also knew, soft-shell crabs, which weren't on the menu, appeared almost as soon as she mentioned an appetite for them. ...
For the right diners on the right night, Le Cirque can muster a magnificent performance.