Trip Report (Very Long): April 2011: Le Cirque, Bartolotta, Craftsteak; also comments on Guy Savoy, Payard, Trevi, Joe’s Stone Crab.
Guy Savoy: I stopped in at the Bubble Bar for Champagne and Oysters. Chose a nice glass of Krug and the Oysters in Ice Gelee. They brought an amuse of foie gras sandwich on a toothpick. I could nibble on those all night long. Then a lovely presentation of bread, which I wasn’t expecting. With dinner at Le Cirque to come, I limited myself to one half piece. The Oysters were gorgeous, though the server had such a pronounced accent I could barely make out the type. I believe they were Kusshi’s from British Columbia. Very nice start to my trip.
LeCirque: The dining room was beautiful. I adored the wispy silk panels floating overhead in shades of orange, red, gold, purple and green. The orange striped chairs were fun and very comfortable. The fresco panels all around the room showcased early 19th century circus scenes. I chose the Degustation menu paired with Premium Wines. The amuse was a lovely chilled oyster topped with caviar, followed by a light lobster salad. The foie gras dish was a crazy combination of flavors that hit all the right notes – sautéed foie gras with white chocolate and raisin brioche, candied blackberries, persimmon and butterscotch caramel. The next dish and it’s wine pairing were perfection. Sea Bass en Paupiette, braised leeks, pinot noir sauce, served with Pommard, Les Fremiers, Coste-Caumartin, Burgundy, 2005. Things then began to blur a little – next course of duck, then pre dessert, then dessert, then mignardises and gourmandises. The service was outstanding. The food was wonderful. The atmosphere was charming. I hope someday to return.
Bartolotta: My only fault with this place was that they tried to put me in the most remote, darkest corner that was also right next to serving station. I immediately asked for another table, and they graciously gave me a choice of a few. I ended up at a two top tucked in a little enclave that held two other tables along the wall with a view out over the ponds. A gentleman was seated shortly after me at the other two top, and I laughed when he said they tried to seat him at a remote, dark table. I enjoyed the fresh fish presentation. Although a bit large for one, I chose the whole Big Eye Sea Bream, which the waiter suggested a salt encrusted and oven roasted preparation. My appetizer was the octopus salad dressed with olive oil and lemon. I also had them bring me a grilled red imperial shrimp, which they halved. Both these dishes were very light and tasty. My whole fish came next. It was great fun - for me and two tables next to me – to watch the waiter crack it out of the salt crust, fillet it, and finally top it with a nice simple flavorful sauce of Sicilian citrus, lemon, orange and olive oil. The fish was very moist, flaky, and had a slightly sweet flavor, somewhat similar to red snapper. I love fish, and this particular piece was excellent. The sides of zucchini and roasted halved fingerling potatoes were cooked perfectly. I was pleasantly full, and decided to skip dessert.
Craftsteak: I was at Grand Canyon all day, and was tired and hungry from all the fresh air. I needed a nice grilled steak! I decided to cancel Scarpetta (where I would have ordered the black cod) and headed over to Craftsteak (Cut couldn’t get me in until 8:30). I started with oysters and a martini – my second favorite treat on vacation (favorite is oysters and champagne). The oysters were very fresh, from BC (can’t remember name) and served with the usual accompaniments, including horseradish, that I left untouched. The oysters needed nothing. I ordered the dry aged New York Strip and three sides, spinach, mushrooms and grilled onion, and they gave me all of them as half orders, which I appreciated. Six soft, warm, butter top rolls with creamy butter came to the table next. I had to ask waiter to remove the final four because they surely would have been eaten had they stayed. My steak - 14 oz - was grilled perfect. Perfect crusty exterior, medium rare, incredible flavor. The onions were nicely charred, the spinach sautéed with a good amount of garlic, and a beautiful mixture of wild mushrooms. I made a really good dent in all the dishes, but could not finish everything, and once again had to forego dessert. Still, this was a great meal, and would highly recommend the steak and sides.
Payard: I simply cannot get enough of their almond croissants! Also a great place to pick up chocolate bars – my favorites were the dark chocolate with orange peel and the white chocolate with red berries.
Trevi: I cannot find a thing to recommend about this place. Food was American-Italian. Quality of ingredients just OK. Waiters disinterested, unfriendly. Big place, very loud. Felt like a chain restaurant. Might be OK for families with small children, as they can run around the fountains. I ate here with group of ten from Conference. Some dishes looked OK, at best. I had the special – Risotto with shrimp and sun dried tomato. Risotto was very undercooked, and there were two shrimp – price was $32. Caesar salad was fine. The only draw I can see is that they will do separate checks for large groups. If that is important to you, by all means give it a try. [Note: Since I was with business associates, I did not comment on food. However, I did call the next day to express my concerns. I left a voicemail – still have not received response.]
Joe’s Stone Crab: Ate here twice for lunch. I enjoyed the Stone Crab Louis Salad both times. I love a fresh salad for lunch. This one did the trick. One half of an avocado filled with a generous amount of stone crab meat, three large stalks of slightly crispy asparagus, sliced hearts of palm, hard boiled eggs, beautiful thick sliced ruby red tomatoes, flavorful chunky dressing, all for $16.95. I thought this was a good price for Las Vegas. Place was full both days, while PJ Clark’s across the way was less than half full.
All in all, a great trip. Next time: Jaleo or e, Scarpetta, Lotus of Siam, maybe Cut, or Rosemary’s. So many places! I feel fortunate to have dined at some really great restaurants (Aureole, Joel Robuchon, Restaurant Charlie, L’Atelier, Daniel Boulad, Guy Savoy, Okada, and now Le Cirque, Bartolotta and Craftsteak) though just a tiny bit sad I will never experience Alex.
re: Dave Feldman
Thanks, Dave. I think the best thing about the salad at Joe's is that their restaurant seemed to be remarkably free of smoke. I am from the land of Minnesota, where all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, all the children are above average, and nobody smokes. :) Getting ready for my first trip to San Antonio in a week or so. Can't wait for my first foray into real BBQ country!
Excellent report Mary! Glad to hear great things about Le Cirque; I've dined there 3 times, and have always had wonderful dinners. BTW, you didn't miss much by not going to CUT; even though I loved my dinner there last year, I was pretty disappointed with the New Zealand wagyu ribeye (especially since it cost $140). I will always miss Alex, but I had an exquisite dinner at Joel Robuchon. I loved e by Jose Andres; it was one of the most creative, delicious and fun dinners. Highly recommend it!