Le Cirque Signature – The Leela (Andheri, Mumbai)

“Ordinary men hate solitude. But the Master makes use of it” – Lao Tzu

In most circumstances, I would agree with networking guru, Keith Ferazzi’s famous imperative “Never Eat Alone”. There is no doubt that breaking the bread has become a pre-requisite for successful business negotiations or building better relationships with colleagues and acquaintances.

However, eating alone is a test of character. Are you self-assured enough to avoid looking like “billy-no-mates” in the corner? Are you able to handle the stares of strangers? Can you confidently pitch up and ask for a table for one? “Yes, just for one, please”. Eating alone is perhaps the purest setting for food criticism – trust me, you pay a lot more attention to the food when you are alone as opposed to discussing the latest episode of New Girl with your gregarious dining pals. Solitude sharpens the mind.

I still remember watching a famous dating guru on VH1 advising men how to “fly solo” in nightclubs in the US. It was comical to see how many men flounder under the burden of rolling sans accomplice. Most people hold the (wrong) belief that having friends around you validates your social worthiness in the eyes of others.

The food at Le Cirque Signature is enough to distract even the most anxious of beings from thoughts of social humiliation. The soup of white and green asparagus was a superb marriage of the sweeter white and more bitter green variety. The minuscule brie fritters, whilst not unpleasant, did little for the such a wonderfully prepared and presented soup. The bread selection was fresh and warm, although the focaccia had a subtle “yeasty” twang.

The cauliflower flan was excellent. The cheese “fondue” topping with a hint of mustard again was a well thought-out combination. The flan itself was light, rich and when teamed up with sauteed vegetables made for a substantial main course. I hear it’s Jain-friendly too (impressive!)

The cheese board wasn’t exactly ground-breaking, but a host of jams, chutneys, apricots drenched in honey were interesting accompaniments. The weakest of the cheese, was a rubbery orange Cheddar, but the Brie was incomparably creamy and the Parmesan, whilst under mature, was still pleasant. The Petit Fours that came with the 5k Bill for one (I told you I pay more attention) were exquisite. The little macaroon was the highlight and up there with Pierre Herme’s accomplishments.

Le Cirque is fine example of how European cuisine can be translated to the Indian market i.e increasing the focus on vegetarian cuisine without uprooting the fundamental principles of the cuisine in question.

So here’s my advice, give the solitary dining experience a try. Call up Le Cirque, reserve a table for one and I promise you, you will never look back…

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