Le Cirque, at the Leela Palace in Delhi, is redefining standards of culinary excellence in a sophisticated and stylish ambience.

Visualise this. You are sitting in an elegant dining on the 10th floor of an ultra luxurious hotel. You have the chef at your table, cleverly crafting your many course menu; you have the wine sommelier pouring his choicest collection of spirits with every course and you have the dashing Swiss General Manager of the hotel who regales you with his selection of Hindi words during the conversation. Would you not feel privileged?

I did during that wonderful evening at Le Cirque, the exclusive fine dining restaurant at the newly opened Leela Palace in New Delhi.

Classic with a twist

With its attention to detail, the stunning Le Cirque seeks to redefine standards of culinary excellence for connoisseurs. The menu has a mix of classic Italian and contemporary French. Chef Brown Birch, who has worked at Le Cirque in the U.S., says, “Most dishes in the menu are classic Le Cirque signature ones but, for some, we have tried to give a slight twist to suit the Indian palate better.” Having worked with Le Cirque and Michelin 3-star Enoteca Pinchiorri in Florence, Brown wants to take Le Cirque to a Michelin star level.

“The challenge is to make diners understand that we are not offering a regular Italian cuisine, primarily understood as pizzas and pastas but are here to present Italian in the contemporary French way,” says Chef Bhoite or Mickey, the Chef de Cuisine. “So we will offer food that will be more Italian but cooked in the French style of slow cooking so that every dish is unique in texture, flavour and presentation.”

Needless to say, that the team has taken care of every single ingredient. For example, Mickey points out, “We have Paupiette of Black Cod, a popular dish in which we use leeks, crispy potatoes, Barolo wine reduction. We import Russel potatoes from the U.S. as we are not happy with the starchier Indian variety.”

Ambience

Decorated with dark wood and leather and exclusive photographs of the Le Cirque family with celebs, the ambience is sophisticated and stylish. Le Cirque is not about one dining space. It features several intimate rooms that you can choose according to your requirement. Adjacent to the main dining area of 32 covers are two private rooms where plush cosy setting is the keyword.

There is also a Chef's Table where a close group of about 12 people can interact with the chef and a separate show kitchen area where the entire team is busy showcasing their prowess. There is also a Board Room with 12 covers where important occasions become the most memorable of dining times. With soft muted lighting and comfortable seating, The Bar and Lounge is, of course, the perfect spot to enjoy a drink. Wine aficionados can appreciate an extensive list of more than 400 labels.

Lastly, a word of caution. The hospitality wizard, Sirio Maccioni named his restaurant ‘Le Cirque' (literally means ‘The Circus' in French) when he first opened it in 1974 at the Mayfair Hotel. Remember to take out your best finery – the inimitable blacks and stilettos for well heeled femmes and black jackets for men - or else you will feel uncomfortable. For you are heading to the most sophisticated fine dining destination in town, which is nothing close to a circus.

Le Cirque Classics

Le Cirque salad (v): Shaved fennel, taggiasca olives, artichokes, tomatoes, candied cashews, white balsamic vinaigrette

Sirio's spaghetti primavera (v): Spring vegetables, pine nuts, light garlic cream sauce

Ravioli ‘Mama Egi' (v): Ricotta and spinach, sage brown butter sauce

Lobster risotto: Sauce Americaine, rosemary

Pan seared salmon: Fennel-saffron chutney, olive purée, asparagus, baby potatoes

Dolci Bomboloni: Sirio Maccioni's hometown recipe, cream, blueberry coulis, nutella gelato