I arrived in Las Vegas for a 3 day business convention and have to admit that although I have been a travel agent for 30+ years, this was my first time here in sin city. I was already down on the place by the time I hit my hotel as it took 30 minutes to drive less than 1 mile to the hotel (the airport is really across the street, but you have to go the long way around!). I walked through the Mandalay Bay Complex which also houses the Fours Seasons and the Delano, where I am staying, and was completely turned off by the casino, smokers, and offensive dress that many folks sport here (simply said, there are way too many women with skirts that don't go below their waists!). So after my first meetings which ended at 9pm (midnight on my clock), I hopped a cab to Caesar's Palace a couple of minutes away and made my way to the serene oasis of Restaurant GUY SAVOY, the Vegas spot this world-famous Michelin star from Paris chose to house his gastronomic temple. I loved the fact that it was so serene, quiet and restful and I actually relaxed in the room with only twelve tables (I think there was another small room, but it was closed) of which only 1/2 were still occupied. within an hour, at 1030pm, I was the only one left until my departure after the magnificent tasting menu. The SIGNATURE menu was chosen for several reasons:
1)I was in Vegas for the Signature Travel Network meeting.
2)I am co-chair of the Chefs Committee for March of Dimes Signature Chefs benefit this month
3)I didn't want the pricier degustation menu or the way overpriced white truffle menu.
The price tag was $250 and the accompanying wines chalked up another $175, not to mention $10 for the excellent Badoit.
I did start with a $30 glass of champagne which was offered, but not priced for me. There was a choice of about 8 champagnes by the glass from a huge trolley, and I stayed in the middle to lower range and avoided the vintage choices of Krug, Dom Perignon and others. Chartogne-Tailler Cuvee Sainte Anne was a deliciously soft brut which set me at ease and allowed me to peruse the vast menu choices. It was also delicious with my four, yes four, amuses bouches.
1)Foie Gras terrine with black truffle vinaigrette was creamy, rich and indulgent
2)Tomato concasse (that's fancy for chopped) with black olive was served in adorable little indentations on toasted bread points. It was tasty, but unexciting.
3)a magnificent petite burger (we now call them sliders) was rare and tasty with Dijon Mustard
4)a small bowl arrived with crunchy quinoa over which Carrott Ginger Soup with Espalette Pepper was poured tableside.
The bread trolley was amazing and it was impossible to choose as one does not wish to overdo this. I went for Bacon & Salt Mini-Brioche as well as the tasty Chestnut Bread and the amazing Seaweed. There were also Mustard Seed, Ciabbata (onion or plain), Lemon, and both Poppyseed or plain baguettes. There were both salted and unsalted butters imported from Normandy, fresh ground pepper and sea salt, all served under adorable mini-glass domes that had a Moroccan feel to them.
The first course on the menu was entitled "Colors of Caviar" and consisted of a gorgeous parfait like creation with vinaigrette or caviar, caviar cream, caviar sabayon, herbs and Osetra Caviar and a mother of pearl caviar spoon to dig through the vertically layered parfait to get a taste of each layer in each bite. It was rich, sublime and again indulgent. Paired with R. & L. Legras, Guy Savoy Blanc de Blancs Champagne from Chouilly which was very dry brut, but with a floral nose and herbaceous aftertaste.
I love chestnuts, so Chestnuts "All Around" or "Tout Autour de la Chataigne" was a treat for me and brought me back to my first Michelin-starred chestnut soup in Paris as Carre des Feuillantes decades ago. Here we had a combination of braised chestnuts, chestnut custard, custard chips all in a bowl filled with mushroom-infused milk (think light creamy broth). The wine was Clos Ste. Magdeleine 2012 from Cassis in Provence made from Marsanne & Ugni Blanc, a tasty earthy white that enhanced the dish to perfection.
Red Mullet Fillet was with a Spinach and Mushroom Gratin and this famous French dish (Rouget in Europe) was delicate and tasty in a mullet fume and was served with Yves Cuilleron 2010 Saint-Pierre from Saint-Joseph in the Loire valley. I reveled as I saw the bottle approaching as I had the pleasure of meeting the late Maestro Cuilleron over 15 years ago when I visited his world famous vineyard and tasted so many of his superb wines. This white was again genius pairing, and the sommelier was impressed with my knowledge of it.
The fourth course of the tasting was another Foie Gras, here called "Bitter Infusion" and offered up the treat in a Duck Consomme with Beets, a Kumquat Puree and was paired with a crunchy piece of seared Foie Gras underneath a small cup as a finishing surprise. I gobbled it all up and loved the Domaine Albert Mann Grand Cru Furstentum 2011 Pinot Gris from Alsace that offered up a good deal of residual sugar and sweetness to pair with the "bitter" element of the dish.
As I was enjoying the previous course a glass teapot was brought to the table and placed over small flame to heat what was apparently an element of the next dish: Artichoke & Black Truffle Soup, Toasted Mushroom Brioche and Black Truffle Butter.
Here we had braised endives over crispy Puffed Rice (Chef seems to like crunchy elements) as well as a Gamache of Green Tea(the glass pot). The truffles were from Perigord and shaved over the dish and the brioche made from mushrooms sat in the middle. The broth was a rich intense reduction that was almost velvety from the truffle butter and aged parmesan was shaved over the top. I loved all the courses, but this was truly a favorite and revelation. Domaine Anne-Marie Gille Vosne-Romanee 2003 Pinot Noir from Bourgogne was a throwback to when I drank this amazing wine while at cooking school at the University of Dijon in the early 70's (of course, it was much less expensive back then).
The "main" course was an American Prime Beef Tenderloin with Braised Paleron (shoulder of beef), Potato Puree and Baby Heirloom Carrots. The Tarragon & Grape Mustard was awesome. The shoulder was nowhere near as amazing as the filet, which did not need the Laguiole steak knife as it was so tender, a fork could cut through it. The Coup de Foudre 37.2 Cuvee Merlot 2012 from Napa was way too young to drink at this time.
I was back in Europe as the cheese trolley rolled over and I debated which to choose:
Brillat Savarin was superbly salty and creamy and went best with the Verget "Les Enseigneres" Puligny-Montrachet 2003, aged to perfection.
I must note that the fine dining spots in Vegas all seem to use Spiegelau crystal which is nice, but here I would have expected Riedel. The white was refreshing after the red I did not care for, so I was happy to switch colors.
Lejeune Altize was a great goat with Ash
Onetik is a tasty earthy sheep and cow with a nettle-like rind with salt
Fleur de Maguers was a superb Corsican Sheep and my
blue was Fourmes d'Ambert
Following this was a palate cleanser of Aloe Vera Gelee with Grapefruit Meringue that was truly novel and fun and oh so refreshing.
The first dessert was Quince & Apple which had apple-wrapped ice cream amongst other multi-variations of the fruits (I'm not a quince fan) and an ice-wine gelatin. The Domaine Huet, Le Haut-Lieu, Moeulleux 2009 Vouvray was another wonderful wine choice.
As I stared out the windows onto the strip, I marveled at the lit signs for Planet Hollywood, Vuitton, Dior and the massive video screens. I was so thankful to be inside and sheltered from the craziness of Las Vegas.
The main dessert was a Samuel treat in the waiting of Chocolate Fondant, Crunchy Praline and Chicory Cream. I was worried about the bitterness associated with chicory, but there was none here. This was a miracle chocolate dish and paired with one of my favorites ice wines, Inniskillen Cabernet Franc 2008 from Niagara in Ontario, Canada.
I have a note that I was served a black pepper tea sorbet with something at one point, but it seems to have been lost in the 3+ hour trip to gastronomic heaven that ended with a bag to go of pastries, muffins, mini-cheesecakes and more which I have had with my coffee in the room every morning for the past 3 days. How I love re-living my best meal in Vegas every day as I now plan to head home.