241 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013
(212) 226-6252

As someone who routinely lists French food as my most favorite of foods, I always get this tinge of excitement when I get to bury my face in coq au vin, soak my bread in the garlicky escargot butter, and gorge myself to the point of early onset diabetes with creme brulee. Therefore, when I met Bro in TriBeCa the other evening after work for dinner at Cercle Rouge, I was jittery with excitement... though that might have been the fact that I'd been chain-smoking cups of coffee all day long.

Cercle Rouge was pretty crowded with downtown's after work crowd by the time we arrived, so we were lucky to get a seat outside. Inside, it's big. Live music was playing that night, the bar was standing room only, and the large circular tables in the back were filled. The mass of humanity here implied either that Cercle Rouge would either be really cheap or really good, but it was neither. The prices were upper-mid-level, and the food was thoroughly mid-level. The service, though, was beyond reproach.

Bro started his meal with Soup A L'Oignon, French onion soup. This may well have been the best thing that we ordered all night. It was excellent, with a rich broth and a thick thick layer of Gruyere cheese melted on top. The Escargots, which I chose, were okay. The snails themselves were tender, but there wasn't much taste to them. The garlic butter sauce seemed to lack much of a buttery flavor and it seemed like most of the pesto was on strike. I also decided to order the Cercle Wings, Cercle Rouge's version of the Buffalo wing, chicken in a hot sauce with blue cheese to dunk them in. Some people on Yelp liked them and they were given the red-letter treatment on the menu to indicate their special-ness. They were good, but not more than that. The sauce wasn't even remotely hot, so all y'all with sensitive tummies will be fine. The chicken was breaded and they went overboard on the breading. It was way too thick, so you were sort of eating a hot sauce flavored sponge with some chicken underneath. Again, they weren't bad, but I suggest getting your wings at Atomic Wings or Hooters or that bar down the block from where I live that has them for 25 cents a pop on wing night.

The dinners, in my opinion, were also weak. The dinners, in Bro's opinion, were not. He enjoyed them more than I did. Again, they weren't "bad", but I found myself not being very interested in eating them. My entree was the Onglet A L'Echalotte, a hangar steak in a red wine shallot sauce with a side of vegetables, au gratin potatoes and bone marrow. The hangar steak was medium rare, as requested, and tender enough, but the shallot sauce it was beneath was bitter. The gratin potatoes were completely tasteless. The bone marrow was bone marrow. It needed salt. Bro ordered the Magret De Canard, a sauteed duck breast with asparagus, mushroom gratin and berries under a cassis sauce. I enjoyed his dish more than my own and he liked his quite a bit. The duck could have been crispier in my opinion, but he was impressed with the mushroom sauce. Big words coming from a guy that normally hates all things mushroom.

Dessert was a must-have of course. My sweet fix, the Crepes Suzettes were extremely sour. If you don't like your crepes coated thickly in a Grand Marnier heavy orange glaze, then these won't be to your liking. On the other hand, if you do, then these will hit the spot. Meanwhile, bro was less impressed with his Tarte Au Citron. He said it was too tangy. Apparently, the pastry chefs at Cercle Rouge like things sour. I actually preferred it to the crepes, which I thought were pretty good, but you will need to order some coffee to accompany each bite.

Three apps, two entrees, two desserts, three beers and two coffees came to $121 plus tax and tip.

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