Just Returned from Las Vegas
I just returned from Las Vegas for a quick couple days and I went to a few restaurants I would like to report on: Rosemary's, Picasso, and Hyakumi.
First, went to Rosemary's off the strip, it was a longer cab ride than I was expecting, however was well worth it. Arrived a few minutes earlier than our reservation, only had to wait for a couple minutes and we were immedietly seated. Went on a Sunday night, half priced bottle of wines. A couple of us shared a wonderful white burgandy, suggested by our waitress. She was very helpful and knowledgable I was thoroughly impressed. The four of us all decided on the $55 three course menu.
First course, I, along with another, had the seared foie gras. It was not the best foie I have ever had, my standards are particularly high after dining in Paris, but it was exceptional. It was cut too thin, therefore slightly overcooked. Another had a squash blossom and black truffel accented quesadilla. This was good, the flavor was not too overpowering but also very creative. Another had the twice baked parmesan souffle, which the waitress recommened, and this was fabulous; rich but still light as a souffle should be, it was a great starter.
The second course, I had a sweet corn soup, which was the most amazing soup I have ever tasted. It was sweet, warm, creamy, just perfection is all I can say. Another two had an arugula, prosciutto, goat cheese salad, which was light and delicate, but with the added ham it was the perfect balance of richness. The other item was the grilled eggplant and buffallo mozzerella salad. This was very good classic, also included prosciotto.
The third course, I had the pan seared australian berramundi. All agreed the berramundi was the best of all the entrees, the waitress did say it was wonderful. The fish was cooked to perfect, had a beautiful assortment of spinach and wild mushrooms, and had a sweet soy and wasabi ponzu butter sauce that was unbelievable. Another had the halibut linquist. This was prepared well and had good flavor, came with cripsy onion rings over the top. Another had the special flat iron steak grilled, I cannot rememeber the exact preparation and pairings, however; I do remember it was very good and presented well. This item was one the waitress recommened. The last item was the crispy skinned striped bass. This fish was seasoned very oddly for my tastes and the majority of the others as well. It was cooked well and paired hushpuppies which was very tasty. I wouldn't recommend this fish, however; it wasn't bad, just nothing special and very odd for my tastes, there are much much better options avaialable on the menu.
We ordered a couple desserts to share, both recommened by the waitress. One was a goat cheese cheesecake, which was not too sweet, very creamy, and delicious. You could taste the goat cheese perfectly and it added so much depth to the dessert. The second was a chocolate coconut bread pudding, which was my personal favorite. It was unlike anoy bread pudding we have ever had, it was completely smooth and the flavors blended perfectly. Both desserts were very successful and delicious.
The second restaurant we dined at as Picasso in the Bellagio. The other diner and I have been wanting to go to this restaurant for a few years now, and finally we made it there. I must note, the decor was absoultly beautiful as the view of the dancing water. This night we both did the chef's five course tasting menu. We skipped the wine, however; and impressive 95 page wine list had many offerings.
The first course was a lobster and sweet corn flan salad. This had great flavor and the richness of the lobster was beautiful. The presentation was very pleasing as well.
The second course was pan seared scallop with a yukon potato puree. It was presented with a yukon potato chip on top and the dish included a veal stock broth. The richness of the veal stock paired perfectly with the scallop and potato puree. This was delicious as well.
The third course was the sauteed foie gras with a red wine poached pear and crushed roasted walnuts. The foie gras was probably the best I have had in the United States, cut correctly and cooked very well. It had a slightly salt aftertaste on the crust which was very pleasant. The pear was very delicious, poached in the wine and obtained great acidicity. The richness of the foie was complemented nicely by the pear. Pairing and execution-impressive.
The fourth course was the main entree, a choice between lamb loin or halibut. We both chose the halibut. It was presented in a very light broth with a beautiful assortment of black trumpet mushrooms. The halibut was cooked precisely, however; this was my least favorite of all the dishes. Being the main entree I was expecting something a bit more exciting, something with a "wow" factor. This dish unfourtently didn't have it, I just thought it was halibut, it wasn't anything special.
The fifth course was dessert, we both ordered chocolate. I ordered a dessert similar to a chocolate molten cake with rich dark chocolate in the cener. The warm cake was paired with a carmel gelato and a small chocolate cookie. The other dessert was a rich, dark chocolate tart, which was two layers. This was topped with a "nutella" gelato which was very unique. Both desserts tasted wonderful, especially to me being a big chocolate fan, and the presentation and artwork added more appreciation for the desserts.
The staff was very very attentive and friendly and created a wonderful dining experience.
The third restaurant we dined at was Hyakumi inside Cesaer's Palace. This is a small Japanese restaurant sushi bar. We ordered on the liter side with two rolls, a classic california roll and a spicy tuna roll. Both rolls were very good, rice cooked perfectly and sushi stayed together and was very moist. The ingredients inside the sushi were wonderful, the california roll was very fresh and refreshing, the spicy tuna had great flavor. For the main entrees we ordered soups. Three of us ordered the seafood soup, which was my favorite of all items. The broth was great, had perfect noodles, and included a large portion of seafood; chiliean seabass, which was cooked to perfection, it melted in your mouth, large shrimp, and large sea scallops. The other soup that was ordered was a beef noodle soup that was also very tasty. Fresh jalapeno, cilantro, and bean sprouts were brought on the side to season with the desired spicyness. In general, all the soups and sushi were very very good, and everything was executed well. The service was nothing special, but nice. The meal was much lighter than the others, but very filling at the same time.
I have been to the Guy Savoy in Paris and it was the best meal I have ever had. I heard that if you have been to the one in Paris then do not go to the one in Vegas because its not as good as the one in France. Just the quality of ingredients avaliable isn't the same as in France, but maybe I will have to try the one in Vegas considering I know it will be good and it will still be a fabulous dining experience.
I have been lucky enough to try both. And maybe one of if not the only to try both US restaurants. Guy Savoy's 1st foray into the US was in a little place in Greenwich CT some 20+ years ago. But I digress.
Comparing Guy Savoy Paris to Guy Savoy Las Vegas is like comparing apples to oranges. Yes the chef is present in Las Vegas for a certain period of time (and has to be under contract). Yes each staff is as skilled and professional as you will find anywhere. But I think this is where the comparisons have to end. One cannot compare a Paris dining experience to a Las Vegas one. 1st and foremost the clientele set them apart. Dining in Paris is an experience. When you book a table @ GS Paris, that table is yours for the evening. From the moment you walk in to the moment you leave you are enveloped in a cocoon, if you will, of decadence and service. And it is spread over a period of 4 hours or more. Imagine people walking into a Vegas restaurant and having dinner take over 4 hours? Would never happen. Sure it could but the Vegas outpost caters to a different crowd. There is a level of perfection that can only be reached buy allowing it over time. Certain things cannot be rushed. I experienced this 1st hand by having the opportunity to be in both kitchens. There is a frenetic pace to the Las Vegas staff (and I cannot begin to tell you what a symphony it is to watch these professional chefs prep, cook, prepare, plate...etc in this Vegas kitchen. It is pure joy to watch.) that the Paris staff does not have to contend with. Then there is the issue of ingredients. There is much talk of how GS sources a lot of their ingredients from Europe. Although there is truth in that statement there is also a lot of myth also. There are certain things that can be imported into the US BUT there are MORE things that cannot. This especially true with many dairy, meats, and vegetables to name a few. The is no way for the Vegas outpost to duplicate the Paris hub in any reasonable way. HOWEVER that does not mean it is not an outstanding restaurant (price notwithstanding, it is MAGNIFICENT). One so many levels it can compete w/just about any restaurant in the US (NO I am not saying it is the best) but one cannot compare the Guy Savoy Paris to Guy Savoy Las Vegas. And although I have never been to Joel Robuchon in the MGM (my guess is that food quality they are close if not equals...may go in Sept) I would put Guy Savoy at the top of the list (AGAIN, PRICE notwithstanding!).
You make a good point. I've found, too often, that the service in Las Vegas is a bit hurried, even when tables do not have to be turned. I think that this because the staff gets used to a rapid pacing, and has to be instructed to "not hurry." As you say, the clientele is vastly different. The staff gets used to everyone wanting to spend only 2 hours dining, as they have shows to attend, tables to slide up to, and whatever. I’ve never had a problem, once my pace has been set. Everyone seems happy to accommodate. You only need to let them know that you are in no hurry.
I’ve even found similar in New Orleans, once a US center for slow dining. I think that too many diners in the US are planning far too much for an evening, and do not appreciate the opportunity to spend the evening with great food, excellent service and fine wines. To my antiquated way of thinking, they do not know what they are missing.
You probably have a good point, however doing a side-by-side is usually great fun, when one has the chance to do so. Just did Joël Robuchon in London, followed within a week by Las Vegas. Both good to great, but nod did go to London. Still, the opportunity to do both was one that I greatly enjoyed.
Have yet to get Guy Savoy into the mix (too little time), but, as we'll likely be in Paris early '09, we'll need to set a trip to LV, to make the comparison.
We just got back from Guy Savoy in Vegas...had dinner there last night. Nearly 4 hours, never rushed, impeccable service, impeccable food, absolutely no attitude whatsoever and a truly wonderful experience. However, it comes at a price. We had the tasting menu for two people, each course paired with wine, and it came to nearly $1400 for two people.
Yes, you read that correctly.
I'll be writing a details review of our experiences at Alex, Craftsteak and Guy Savoy later this week.
I am glad to hear that Picasso was still going strong. It's been about three trips, since we had an open night, but it has been a favorite of ours for some many years.
For me, the wine pairings are excellent, and have always been part of our experiences. OTOH, if one is not "into" wine, it possibly would not be worth the $, or the calories. Since we're avowed winos, it holds as much importance, as most of the kitchen fare.
Thank you for the report and the details,