Not even the stellar service could save Le Cirque from a New York Times one-star rating. Writes reviewer Pete Wells:
In a series of meals since the late spring, Le Cirque classics like steak au poivre, Dover sole almondine and even the famous chocolate soufflé lacked conviction. New dishes lacked rationale. Nearly everything lacked seasoning. The kitchen gave the impression that it had stopped reaching for excellence and possibly no longer remembered what that might mean.
Beef carpaccio, the chilly maroon flesh stretched out below a scattershot application of radish and celery slices that had started to curl, tasted of refrigeration and surrender. In what was meant to be a salad, a white flap of flavorless squid was pulled over a length of octopus leg like a shroud; it sat next to frigid white beans that were crunchy at the center.
Roast chicken tasted the way roast chicken tasted in American restaurants 30 years ago (like nothing) and sat next to a muddy, shapeless swamp of porcini. A long log of Dover sole under a sheet of bread crumbs had neither the texture nor the flavor that might justify charging $49 for a fish stick.
$49 for a fish stick? Yikes. Sirio Maccioni, Manhattan’s living version of Henri Soule, is no doubt feeling what Jeffrey Chodorow felt after Frank Bruni skewered one of his restaurants, leading Chodorow to place a bounty of sorts on Bruni (whoever among his staff spotted Bruni at one of his properties and threw him out would be rewarded). But Le Cirque is an institution, as was the Pavillon under Soule.
The comment section is even more colorful than the review with defenders blasting Wells (“Giving one star to Le Cirque sounds a lot like the guy who hates the model just because she won’t sleep with him,” one fan posted) and fellow critics (or possibly rivals) making even worse allegations. Writes a former patron,
[O]ne of my (married) colleagues was propositioned by the eastern European “lady” seated next to him. She and her two friends seemed to think we three were a good mark. The bartender, he obviously was in the game with them too, put their drinks and appetizers on my check. i didn’t notice until after leaving the addition of three glasses of champagne and a smoked salmon plate. (I don’t eat salmon.)