Thursday, 18 July 2019

Steal Deal | This Award-Winning Restaurant Offers a Fantastic Tasting Menu for Solo Diners

Here’s an offer that you wouldn’t want to miss. Chef Matteo Fontana has been serving some very exquisite food at The Leela Palace New Delhi’s ambient rooftop restaurant, Le Cirque. He literally has the crème de la crème of Delhi eating out of his hand. In fact, one of the most famous food columnists of the country chose this restaurant to celebrate his birthday on the same evening that I went to experience the newly-launched Bite Size menu. 

Conceptualised for single diners and for guests interested in a less formal dining format, the Bite Size menu is served at the bar counter, for which just five seats are dedicated every Thursday and Friday evening. It comprises an eight-course tasting menu of Chef Matteo’s delicious creations. Keeping in mind the smaller portion sizes, the price has been pared down to Rs 1800, and I can vouch that the quality offered is top notch. This means that it’s a great opportunity for diners to experience the Le Cirque gastronomy, without burning a hole in their pocket. And in case you’re wondering if “bite-size” will be enough for dinner, let me assure you that each course is more than a couple of bites and highly satiating.

Top: The beautiful bar at Le Cirque.
Bottom: Seating at the bar counter; a fancy bread basket.

So without further ado, let me get started with telling you all about the food! As you’re seated you’ll be served freshly baked bread with two types of butter – salted and mustard – along with some sea salt. Then the culinary journey begins, and I am happy to describe it in detail not only to entice you but also to go over the flavours in my head all over again.

Top: Chicken liver pate; Pan seared wild scallop.
Bottom: Chilled Heirloom Tomato Consomme; Ravioli stuffed with
braised duck leg.

Chicken liver pate comes with three mini brioches and four jams – pumpkin and coconut, mango relish; berry compote and tomato jam. The highlight is the thin layer of chicken jus on top of the silken pate that lends it a beautiful finesse. 
Pan seared wild scallop is served on a bed of puy lentils. Although Chef endearingly says that it is French/Italian dal, it is cooked risotto style with oodles of butter and parmesan and drizzled with basil oil giving it more of an oomph. 
Chilled Heirloom Tomato Consommé is ideal for the current weather with a quenelle of tomato sorbet sitting in the centre and topped with three types of caviar – basil, lemon and balsamic. Served with a simple but beautiful tomato salsa on a crostini this course really celebrates this fruit in the most wonderful and seasonal way. 
Ravioli stuffed with braised duck leg is both delicate in its technique and rich with flavour as the duck is braised in Barolo wine. A wonderful balance is achieved with pairing this with parsley foam and again some flavour-packed bits of morrels swimming in the velvety pumpkin velouté.

Top: Green asparagus and barley risotto; Paupiette of Chilean Sea Bass
Bottom: Sous vide pork belly; Tiramisu in a Chocolate Sphere.

Green Asparagus And Barley Risotto is rather self-explanatory, except that it is cooked with basil pesto and sprinkled with dry tomato powder to lend it a hint of acidity.
Paupiette of Chilean Sea Bass is supposed to come with crispy potatoes, as per the menu. In case you’re wondering about the crispy potatoes, they are present in the beautifully thin and crunchy crust that coats the fish.
Sous Vide Pork Belly is cooked for 21 hours and the meat melts in the mouth, yet the top layer is beautifully crisp. It is served with smoked mashed potatoes and crisps of apple and red cabbage. Although the meat is succulent on its own, do not skip the accompanying jus, it is a must-have!
Tiramisu in a Chocolate Sphere is the finale to this beautiful meal. Here, Chef has gone far away from the traditional tiramisu in that a chocolate powder coated white chocolate sphere gives way to a filling made with almond custard. This is the only course that I would say is “not bad”, not because it is not delicious, but because I am a purist when it comes to tiramisu as it probably is one of my favourite desserts ever!

In a Nutshell: Would I go back for the bite-size menu? A definite Yes! Should you go and try it out? Yes, please!

Le Cirque, The Leela Palace New Delhi, Diplomatic Enclave, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi 110023.
Timings: The Bite-Size menu is available for dinner only on Thursday and Fridays. Only 5 seats available at the bar hence prior reservation is a must.
Meal for one: Rs 1,800++.

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