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Le Cirque Coming to Chicago, Apparently To Show Us How It's Done

By Anthony Todd in Food on Mar 6, 2012 7:20PM

2012_3_6_LeCirque.jpg This Sunday, we were sitting on our couch reading the New York Times. The paper of record is not generally the place where we get dining advice for our home city, but we came across the following gem: Le Cirque, the fabulously overpriced celebrity-studded restaurant is coming to Chicago for one night only. Surprise: It's still overpriced here. Why do they think we care?

The event is part of what Grubstreet New York called Le Cirque's "traveling circus" - the restaurant is coming to ten cities around the country to throw events in private clubs. Each event will showcase classic dishes from Le Cirque's menu, and the fun comes to Chicago on March 23rd. So far, so good - we can get behind pop-up dinners, if they are sufficiently interesting. The food doesn't look to be that compelling - creme brule and tuna tartare are nice, but not enough to get us out of the house. However, if you love classics, maybe you'd be interested.

But this dinner costs $150 per person for three courses! Three courses! The Times attempted to justify this by saying that the meal, should one eat it in New York, would cost $135. That doesn't make it any less ridiculous. Even Next, with its admittedly high prices, only charges $17/course for El Bulli, a unique, time-limited meal at one of America's hottest restaurants. We've promoted meals this expensive before, but they've always had some sort of charitable angle. Why should Chicagoans shell out this kind of money to eat at a boring pop-up restaurant?

Well, they are bringing all of Le Cirque's signature china, if that helps. And while there won't be any celebrities, they are going to hang huge blown-up photos of Sirio Maccioni hanging out with celebrities, so you can pretend that you're actually in New York, rather than a club in boring Chicago. And you get a copy of Maccioni's autobiography.

Yeah, not so much. We can't deny the importance of Le Cirque to fine dining in the United States, and we wouldn't judge any culinarian who, on a trip to New York, decided to eat there. But bringing the fancy New York restaurant to Chicago and expecting the yokels with Stockyard Palates to shell out for banquet hall food verges on insulting.

The worst part? We're sure this will sell out.