Le Cirque on HBO
- Withnail42 Dec 29, 2008 04:29 PM
Looks like there is an interesting documentary about Le Cirque now showing on HBO. Can't say how good it is but as I am recording it.
I thought it was very interesting. It mostly dealt with the time between the closing of the restaurant in the Palace in 2004 and the reopening in 2006. Quite difficult family dynamics between Sirio and his three sons. One criticism is that I would have liked more information about the changes made between the disappointing yet - according to one of the sons, deserved - two-star review after the reopening and the subsequent three-star review more than a year later. This part was completely glossed over, and given Sirio's apparent reluctance to change, I was left wondering how he was convinced to make certain adjustments.
re: Debbie W
yes! I was not surprised that they bounced the chef. I felt really sorry for him, but when they showed his food it looked like something I would have been happy to serve at home, but not something I expect in a high-end restaurant. And when they had the pre-opening tasting, no one was happy. I'm surprised they didn't axe him then.
The food shown after the chef-change had much more visual appeal.
I was also surprised at how little mention was made of Daniel Boulud. I was under the impression he was a great part of the success of Le Cirque.
It was a very entertaining 2 hours. My husband watched the whole thing with me. He's a food lover, but not obsessed like i am ;-)
There's an article in the NY Times about the documentary. Originially they were going to be done after the initial review, the later bits were added on as an update, that may be why there are less details.
My take away from this film is that Le Cirque is Sirio's clubhouse, and that Sirio is having an understandably difficult time letting go of the old ways. He comes across as a master at schmoozing the rich and famous, but as his sons tried to point out, that will not be enough to survive today.
He is a gentleman and a legend, but time marches on.
When he insisted men wear jackets and ties, or even seemed to back down to jackets, he ruled me out from ever patronizing the joint. My fine dining attire is black slacks, black socks, black penny loafers and a black polo shirt, all craftily chosen to disguise the food I will ultimately end up wearing.
How'd you like Kissinger, he looked like an old hollow shell of a has been power broker while he allowed Sirio to fawn all over him.
My wife and I were cracking up at his cynical and pleasingly slightly vulgar style. He was not sugar coating it for the cameras. What a character! Like Danna, my wife is not food obsessed like me, but is the one who heard about the show in the first place, asked me to TIVO it, and lasted thru the whole thing and liked it. Too bad about the dichotomy between swells and the rest.
Signs of his true self showed when he got giddy about advice from friggin Kissinger, WTF does he know about restaurants or real estate? That could have been edited out IMHO. I think Henry swallowed a frog at Le Cirque 40 years ago and that's why his voice is that way. Never could stand that man or his voice, had to vent !!!
The editing was funny, in regard to Kissinger choosing the Bloomberg building and the next thing you see is a newspaper article saying that Le Cirque would be opening in the Bloomberg building. Like Kissinger's advice was the deciding factor.
The way Sirio dealt with his sons reminded me of the way my stepdad dealt with me, my brother, his own three kids, my mom, and pretty much everyone else he ever came into contact with from when my mom met him in 1972 until when he died in 2005. Except my stepdad didn't have a lick of business sense although he thought he did. It's not that fun to be around someone who's always right, especially when you're growing up and don't have any power. It was pretty clear that Sirio's sons were swallowing a lot. His wife seemed pretty cool though.
What struck me was that the three sons all went into the family business (and stayed there), even though they seem to lose every battle about how to run it. I really enjoyed the documentary, but the attempt to create a narrative sort of failed:
1. There's this old school restaurant.
2. Its prospects dim, because times change but the restaurant doesn't.
3. Its prospects improve a bit, because the restaurant improves a bit.
I needed a little more drama! And a lot more about the actual food.