Le Cirque - Las Vegas - report
On the back end of a 5-day Vegas trip, we wrapped up with a dinner at Le Cirque in the Bellagio, our first visit to the restaurant. Given the absence of much commentary on Le Cirque on this board, I thought I'd give a full report. The rest of our trip is described here ->
We'd originally booked for 7:30 but moved up the reservation earlier to make sure we'd make our red-eye flight back. Oddly, they only offered us 6pm or 7pm, even though when we showed up (at about 6:45 for the 7pm) it was evident they clearly could have sat us at 6:30.
The restaurant really is a beautiful space, with colorful silk ballooning from the ceiling like a circus tent, lots of lush bright colors all around, and a view out the window of the Bellagio fountains (we stay at the Bellagio often so I'm sort of accustomed to the fountains, but it still was pretty neat having a view of them for dinner). We had a really nice banquette for 2 with a bit of a curve to it so we could both sit beside each other and across at the same time, which also looked across the restaurant and out the windows.
They had a 5-course tasting menu as well as a fixed-price 3-course dinner - having a flight to catch, we went with the 3-course. I did the pig's feet "cromesquis", the roast chicken, and a chocolate bombe, while Mrs. F did the lobster salad, salmon and creme brulee. We were started with an amuse bouche of a little shot glass of butternut squash bisque w/ 5-spice flavored marshmallows - nice, and the flavored marshmallows in particular were a clever touch. The rest of the dinner ->
Pig's feet "cromesquis" - these were somewhat like croquettes - diced trotter meat, given a crispy coating of bread crumb to hold it together and then fried till crispy on the outside, still tender and almost oozy on the inside. A nice hearty little appetizer, topped with a spoonful of tomato paste and also some mustard vinaigrette on the plate.
Lobster salad - a generous serving of cold lobster, dressed with a very aromatic truffle vinaigrette, served over a somewhat unusual melange of peas and diced asparagus. Loved the lobster and truffle - not as sure of the veg accompaniment.
Roast chicken - a thick breast of chicken, w/ chopped black truffles stuffed under the skin. Nicely cooked, meat still moist, skin nice and crisp, though the truffle hadn't permeated throughout quite to the degree I'd have hoped. An accompaniment of "macaroni aux foie gras" sounded incredibly promising, but what this actually amounted to was several strands of bucatini (long thin pasta which is hollow in the middle) laid out flat beside the chicken and a foie-flavored sauce bathing the noodles and the plate. The sauce was good with the chicken, but this was not what I was expecting when I saw "macaroni aux foie gras" (though I've now got an idea for a dish to work on myself!).
Salmon - spiced with szechuan pepper and cardamom, an interesting combination, with a bed of wilted spinach and some other veg, lobster oil and "crustacean jus." Some good flavors but not a home run. Mrs. F got some sand in her spinach, something you surel wouldn't expect at a place like this.
Chocolate bombe - white chocolate ice cream covered in a dome of dark chocolate, with a layer of praline in between. Great presentation - they bring out the bombe, then pour more hot chocolate sauce over the top, which melts the hard shell of the bombe. Fun and tasty.
Creme brulee - classically done, strong vanilla flavor, perfect texture. A really, really good version.
A nice little plate of petit fours (chocolate truffle, a fruit jelly, a meringue, and a little marshmallow-y type thing) was brought out to finish, which we had with a glass of calvados and a pedro ximenez sherry.
Service was friendly and attentive, our waiter asked when we sat if we had any timing issues and made sure we were done in time for our flight (though we really didn't have to rush at all). It was also very entertaining to watch the staff deal with two tables of Chinese visitors, with only one of the diners able to speak any English (I think the pantomime for "lobster" is universal). Only possible complaint is that from our seat, which was apparently close to the main station for the staff, you could hear them calling out to each other each table's drink orders or letting them know which dish goes to which spot at the table as they were delivering them. Not a big deal to me but probably could be to someone expecting the full "high dining" experience.
The sommelier was excellent, and had lots of good advice. Told him I was interested in a Burgundy but that I didn't know them that well, and we talked about some of the Oregon pinots I like so he could steer in the right direction. The wine list has lots of high 3 and 4-figure Bourdeauxs but also has many more moderately priced wines as well including some that were perfectly reasonable.
Given the setting and the luxe ingredients available (lobster, truffles, foie gras, etc.), I'd say that the 3-course menu @ $105 is pretty fairly priced. For the most part the preparations were quite good and a couple things I thought were great (the lobster in truffle vinaigrette component of the app, also really liked the pig's feet comesquis). I certainly enjoyed this at least as much as I liked Aureole from our visit last year (though I should add that I was not so floored by Aureole that I wanted to head immediately back) and probably more than (now departed) Renoir a couple years prior.
I can't say that I'd make Le Cirque a "must go" for every Vegas trip, but I liked it. Would recommend particularly for someone looking for a more traditional French menu in a beautiful luxurious environment.