- Larissa Dubecki review: Le Grand Cirque (May 2014)
My Kitchen Rules judge Manu Feildel is closing his South Yarra restaurant, Le Grand Cirque, just four months after opening.
Feildel took time out of MKR filming to tell Le Grand Cirque employees at 2pm today, saying low diner numbers at the French diner were to blame. The last dinner service will take place on Saturday, August 9.
Feildel joined forces with George Calombaris and the Made Establishment Group (Gazi, the Press Club, Jimmy Grants, Hellenic Republic) to open the French diner in March. Le Grand Cirque replaced Calombaris' Greek/Italian Mama Baba, which also failed to thrive at the Daly Street site.
Reviews of Le Grand Cirque were not favourable. Epicure restaurant critic Larissa Dubecki described the restaurant as "simply a polite, middle-rung French bistro with polite, middle-rung French bistro food; solid rather than thrilling". The Australian's John Lethlean went further, writing, "LGC is not a fun place. The staff are not really up to scratch. The space looks unfinished. And the food is patchy – at best, solid; at worst, a disgrace."
While Feildel's star has soared with Channel 7, his restaurant projects have stalled. His Sydney restaurant, L'etoile, closed in January.
"Le Grand Cirque was a long-held dream come true for me," Feildel said in the statement this afternoon. "I've loved every minute of it. I would like to thank all who have supported me in this venture, especially my mate George Calombaris and the other Made Establishment directors. Also a big thank you to my staff, family and friends who have supported my dream."
Calombaris was not available for comment.
The Made group owns the Daly Street building, but its directors have not decided on its future.
Made Establishment has a history of reinventing its restaurants. It closed the first incarnation of the CBD's Press Club, replacing it with Gazi and relocating George Calombaris's prestige restaurant to a smaller space. In December 2013, it shut St Katherine's in Kew and transformed it into a second Hellenic Republic. The group closed French bistro PM24, which recently reopened as pan-Asian Lucy Liu, under Made's George Sykiotis and The Smith's Michael Lambie and Scott Borg.
A Made spokesperson said the company was hoping to find jobs for Le Grand Cirque's staff at its other venues. Staff have been calling customers to cancel bookings after August 9.
With Roslyn Grundy