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Celebration dinner: Le Cirque or WD-50?

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karyn6277 Mar 2, 2011 08:07 AM

To celebrate my new job, I got reservations for both of these places on Sat night and am trying to decide which to go to. I'm 33 and my BF is 35. One of the best dining experiences I have ever had was at Ko for lunch...just to let you know what kind of dining I like. I have been interested in seeing what Dufresne is up to for a long time, but I read so many bad reviews, and I'm not in the mood to waste the money or ruin a Sat night. I found the documentary on Le Cirque to be fascinating and have also wanted to see what those folks are up to for a while. Ultimately, I guess either will be okay, but I'd love to hear what you think if you've been to both. I think we'd do the tasting menu at each place, although - no eggs benedict on WD-50s tasting menu makes me sad because that's such a famous dish, just like no foie gras ravioli on Le Cirque's tasting menu. I'd like to do the tasting menu and order those dishes a la carte, because that's how into getting everything that I'm curious about I am, but I'm pretty sure the BF would think I'm nuts. Thanks for your help.

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WD-50
50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

Le Cirque
151 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

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  1. loratliff RE: karyn6277 Mar 2, 2011 08:19 AM

    I admittedly haven't been to Le Cirque, but my tasting menu experience at wd-50 was one of my top three dining experiences. In fact, in retrospect, my boyfriend and I found it to be more impressive than even Per Se in some respects. I was turned off by the bad wd-50 reviews as well, but discovered them to be totally unfounded in the end.

    Also, I wouldn't even worry about having to order the eggs benedict a la carte—they will probably just include a tasting sized portion for you, if you ask. They are very good about substitutions.

    Just looking at the Le Cirque tasting menu, I would chose wd-50 hands down.

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    Per Se
    10 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10019

    Le Cirque
    151 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

    2 Replies
    1. re: loratliff
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      pauliface RE: loratliff Mar 2, 2011 08:32 AM

      I have not been to Le Cirque. But, like loratiff, I have been to WD-50 and loved it. Even if you don't love every bite, you'll find everything interesting. A great experience.

      (And for reference, I loved the Momofuku Ko lunch as well. Currently it has beat out several amazing meals (EMP, Alinea, Moto, and Sugiyama) for my best of 2011.)

      1. re: loratliff
        u
        uwsister RE: loratliff Mar 2, 2011 01:45 PM

        I wouldn't say the bad reviews are "totally unfounded" - I would say it's simply personal preference. wd-50 is definitely not for everybody.

        With that said, between those two choices I'd choose wd-50. Le Cirque's glory days are long gone, to be honest - I found the meal I had to be pretty forgettable and I haven't read raving reviews about it for a while. I wasn't totally crazy about wd-50, but wd-50 is anything but forgettable. It was an interesting experience and I'm glad I went (though I don't know if I'd return.) BTW I substituted whatever egg dish they had on the tasting menu with their Eggs Benedict at wd-50, so no problem there. That way you can try both (unless your BF will substitute too.)

      2. ellenost RE: karyn6277 Mar 2, 2011 05:33 PM

        Please cancel your reservation at Le Cirque. I recently had lunch there, and while the food was fine, the service was not (totally robotic). I frequently have lunch and dinner at Ko, and if you liked Ko, do not go to Le Cirque. I had a great meal recently at Corton, and have a reservation at the end of the month for WD-50. Thanks to all who have posted good things about WD-50. Looking forward to trying WD-50.

        4 Replies
        1. re: ellenost
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          wreckers00 RE: ellenost Mar 2, 2011 05:40 PM

          You can add the eggs benedict dish to the tasting menu.

          And ellenost, not to avoid the OP, but I have a slight feeling you'll be disappointed by wd-50...I hope not..but I did find wd-50 far more casual than I expected (not that that's a bad thing). The food is certainly hit or miss and I hope the desserts are still up to Stupak's level. Look forward to your review.

          1. re: ellenost
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            Riverman500 RE: ellenost Mar 3, 2011 03:52 AM

            Is Corton now using molecular gastronomy? Though I haven't been there in a year, my recollection was that Liebrandt used fairly classical techniques but with bolder flavor and textural contrasts and presentation.

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            Corton
            239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

            1. re: Riverman500
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              wreckers00 RE: Riverman500 Mar 3, 2011 05:23 AM

              It depends what you call "molecular gastronomy". I tend to agree with Wylie and others in the overuse of that term.

              If you mean do they use some liquid nitrogen and a sous vide machine....well then yeah they do--hell even Blue Hill uses that stuff.
              Having not eaten at Corton I can't comment totally, but from what I've seen, Liebrandt is doing some less-normal combinations in his food (definitely not totally out there like wd-50 though)

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              Blue Hill
              75 Washington Place, New York, NY 10011

              Corton
              239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

            2. re: ellenost
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              pauliface RE: ellenost Mar 3, 2011 09:35 AM

              Wow! The rare negative comment from ellenost! I think of you as rather positive, so I'd take note!

              I think you'll enjoy WD-50 if you go prepared for the fact that you won't love everything. It's a good 5 years since I went, but if I recall, some dishes are genius, many are very good, and some might miss. And I think I went away feeling that the weak spots were any cooked piece of fish or meat.

              Even considering the above, I'm a total WD-50 advocate, and plan to return on my next NYC visit (almost went this last visit but I snagged that momofuku ko reservation and it fell by the wayside...)

            3. k
              karyn6277 RE: karyn6277 Mar 3, 2011 07:37 AM

              Thanks so much for all of your replies. WD-50 it is. I will report back. xo

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              WD-50
              50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

              2 Replies
              1. re: karyn6277
                s
                SnowWhite RE: karyn6277 Mar 3, 2011 02:43 PM

                If you're 33 - wd-50 is THE place - take your parents to Le Cirque! And as long as you appreciate the construction and process of making the food - you'll have a ball! I recently went there for an anniversary and it was out of this world - at lease we appreciated it! But at $540 or so for 2 with chef's tasting & wine pairings - it ain't cheap - but it's fun! One of the best meals EVER.

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                Le Cirque
                151 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                1. re: SnowWhite
                  loratliff RE: SnowWhite Mar 3, 2011 04:33 PM

                  Your experience sounds very much like ours. Even for the dishes that we didn't "love," we still were in awe at their presentation and the skill involved. It was just an all-around fun meal.

              2. m
                MoxieMax RE: karyn6277 Mar 5, 2011 04:42 PM

                My two cents - unless you're looking for a very traditional experience, I would imagine you'd enjoy WD-50 more than Le Cirque. I ate at LC recently and I was not impressed. The food was ok, but then again, nothing spectacularly different from anything you can get a other, less expensive NYC restaurants. Had I been paying for it (rather than work) I would have been upset. WD-50 will combine good food with an experience, so you really can't go wrong.

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                WD-50
                50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                Le Cirque
                151 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                1. k
                  karyn6277 RE: karyn6277 Mar 8, 2011 07:34 AM

                  Well, you guys were so right, thanks - it was a lovely evening. I really like how unpretentious the decor is - it's bright and it almost feels like a diner with the booth type seats. We were warmly greeted by a quirky host and give a great 4-top table where my date and I could sit next to each other and cuddle - I know some people think that's obnoxious for a couple to do but I really love to lay my head on my man's shoulder after a long week of not seeing him.

                  There was no problem substituting the egg course on the tasting menu with the eggs benedict. Every server that we had (maybe 5 total?) was gracious and warm. The kampachi amuse bouche was my date's favorite course and the foie gras with passionfruit was mine. We both marveled over the eggs benedict, and of course the bagel ice cream. For me the best tasting dishes in terms of comforting and savory good food that you want to eat when you're hungry were the scallops and the beef & bearnaise. Those two courses filled me up and satisfied my hunger. The only thing that I really didn't care for was the squab - cooked sous vide, it was very red and clammy and tough.
                  Overall it was a great celebration and I left with no regrets, glad to mark this one off of my list. I'm not sure how often I'd go back, as it was $500 and if I'm going to spend that again, I think I'd prefer Ko, but I'm glad I went once.

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                  WD-50
                  50 Clinton Street, New York, NY 10002

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: karyn6277
                    loratliff RE: karyn6277 Mar 8, 2011 07:52 AM

                    Glad you had a nice experience. The corner booth near the fireplace is also a great table for a couple, for future reference.

                    I loved the squab, but I can see how it's not for everyone. The scallops with bone marrow are amazing.

                    What all did you drink? Wine or cocktails?

                    1. re: karyn6277
                      sgordon RE: karyn6277 Mar 8, 2011 08:09 AM

                      Glad you liked it! It seemed like for someone who dug Ko WD was the obvious choice.

                      You might find it worth going back for something more casual - the a la carte menu has no overlap with the tasting menu, so it's really a quite different (and much less expensive!) experience.

                    2. c
                      citykid426 RE: karyn6277 Mar 8, 2011 01:37 PM

                      I ate at LC once and at WD50 many times. Let me tell you there is a reason I keep going back. The chef at WD50 is kick ass creative and their staff is so nice. LC just can't compare.

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