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Review: Le Cirque, Raku, Jean Phillipe, Five 50, Art of Flavor Etc...

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Le Cirque
My son & I had dinner reservations for 8pm and arrived promptly. Service from the start was very good, attentive, and somewhat formal. We noticed as we were being seated the ratio of diners to staff was about 3:1, but that being said, there were still a couple of misses in the service, the first and most forgivable, as it was in our favor after all, was the double delivery of the canapés to our table, to which I advised our server that we had already been brought the canapés, the second and the one that really didn’t settle well with us was the forgetfulness of the mignardises! This is my favorite and almost the most anticipated part of the meal and the last chance for the chef to leave a good impression.
I of course did not bring this to the attention of the staff, as to save mine and their embarrassment. I just couldn’t bring myself to politely bring it up, so I let it be… they brought me the check, and as I paid I sadly watched the other diners tasting their mignardises… that was for me a big miss.
Regarding attire, I will say that we were probably the best dressed people there, so I doubt that had anything to do with it, there was a good amount of people in street clothing, sweats & sneakers…I’m not even joking… it true! Very badly dressed people, I’m sure it wouldn’t bother most, but if I am paying that type of $$$$, I don’t want to be seeing others in sweats… people should make an effort :)

ok, on to the food…
Coming from a day and a half of heavy eating, we decided to each go with the a la carte instead of the tasting menu… appetizer, main & dessert, which was plenty.
The bread service was ok, bacon bread was tasty but none of the offerings sampled seemed fresh, they would have really benefited from a light oven warming.
The amuse was a delightful chestnut soup. Regarding the apps … I had emailed the restaurant 2 weeks prior requesting their Foie Terrine… to which I received no response… I had gotten very busy at work, and really just forgot to follow up, as did they. But being that it was still showing up in their online menu, I didn’t really worry. However, as I perused the menu in the restaurant, I realized there was no Foie Terrine, to which I was informed that it has been replaced with a Foie Gras Parfait… as in mixed with Heavy cream, as in Restaurant Saving $$... half the Foie, twice the profit. I felt a bit ripped off.
I did end up ordering the Foie Parfit, which was pretty small in comparison to the pictures I’ve seen of the Terrine, but It was tasty & smooth… but very light in taste (obviously by the heavy cream) I would have loved the terrine, but oh well… it was served with pretty good brioche bread and atop slices of beets, to which I didn’t really like… not sweet enough or tangy enough in comparison to say berries or bitter orange marmalade … that’s my fav combination!
My son had the Panko crusted egg which was superbly done, and it didn’t hurt that it had a nice little dollop of caviar! I could have that for a decadent brunch anyday!
For our mains, my son’s Lobster was over cooked and rubbery, a sad dish and if you are going to charge a supplement ($15) you better make sure it’s worth it… but it wasn’t. I had the good but safe Prosciutto wrapped monkfish. Yummy, but really nothing I couldn’t do at home.
For dessert, son had the Chocolate Ball and I had the Grand Marnier Soufflé to which we both agree were both overly sweet. There’s a word in Spanish “empalagante” which doesn’t really have a proper translation, but really describes the desserts perfectly… Great taste, but way too sweet.
Overall, we both gave it 7 out of 10… there’s plenty of room for improvement. Really want to try Twist next for excitement and Picasso for upscale “comfort” food.

Raku
Absolutely fabulous! Le Cirque, this is how it’s done. Fabulous service, pride in what they serve, well seasoned food, could not fault it.
We tried both the House Tofu which was, as someone else described it… like a delicate soft ricotta cheese… but this was better than that… unlike any other tofu I have tried, and the accompaniments really favored the tofu, second on the list was the agedashi tofu, in a well seasoned broth, delicious.
An outstanding Seared Foie Gras in a soy based glazed sauce, and although there was evidence of a very small vein, it was so deliciously done, well seared and seasoned, I can certainly overlook it. The Kobe beef with Garlic was tender and so flavorful, the chicken thigh simple but yummy. Also tried the refreshing Vinegary cucumber & seaweed with a lighter than expected vinegary taste, and lastly we tried the juicy deep fried chicken, which was delicious, but a bit too pink in the middle for my liking and safety.
We missed going to Sweets Raku afterwards, due that we had $50 worth of Jean Phillip Pastries to go back to… more on that below:

Jean Phillipe
We had $50 daily worth of resort credit at Aria, which we really had a hard time using up, as we had already made dinner reservations elsewhere for the remainder of our stay… so we did what any foodie worthy person would do… head to Jean Phillipe and start pointing to pastries that look good, until you’ve covered your allowed $50 for the day…

Likes: the almond croissant is just fabulous, very well done, crunchy, not gummy as many others I’ve tried, with a delicious almond paste filling. Also on the top of the list are both Brioches’ (the Nutella & Dulce de Leche) with a nice amount of filling… no skimping here. The cinnamon roll was very good, but nothing extraordinary.

Dislikes: The desserts. Both cheesecakes we tried, pumpkin & original were not really proper cheesecakes, but rather a lighter version made with mouse. Too much air, too light for a cheesecake … When inquiring I was told that most if not all of their cakes and desserts are made with mouse. A proper cheesecake should be a bit dense, not too sweet, with a bit of cream cheese taste still identifiable… and these just weren’t.

Five50
Used up part of our daily resort credit one night here and went with the regular cheese pizza. Very Large, almost too much… see, the pizza is very thin, which I don’t mind, the sauce had a nice tang to it, which is much appreciated and the cheese was pretty good, but the weight of the cheese and sauce weighted down the pizza triangle about 2/3 of the way…to my liking, the crust should be able to stand up to the toppings… the crust however, had a very nice crunch, and I usually don’t eat the crust, but I made an exception on this one.
Service here is very strange, borderline bad, with pretty snobby staff. I inquired if our to-go pizza was ready to which they implied “4 more minutes”… so we waited by the little tables right there in plain view… few minutes go by, I see a pizza sitting there and ask if that was mine… “oh, yes” they say. Wait, I said, you don’t call them…. to which I quote “no, not really…. sometimes the girls will” …. so you know I’m right here… and you leave my pizza to get cold here on the counter?? ugh .. enough said.

The Art of Flavor
Fabulous, fabulous Gelato… I’m not an Ice Cream type a Gal… but this was just superb… no ice crystals what so ever, (I can sense them miles away) bold flavors and brave combinations.
Taking with her a bit, I found out she’s from Venezuela, when I told her my parents are Argentinean, she immediately switched to Spanish… we south Americans have to stick together :) we chatted a bit regarding both our Italian Heritage while she had us try most of the flavors. She also mentioned she makes her own Panettone for said flavored gelato. Let me just say the quality of the panettone is miles above anything we’ve been able to purchase for our holidays… just delicious.
The Pear & Gorgonzola… wow! just Wow… you can really taste the bold Gorgonzola flavor and the bright fresh notes from the pear… this was by far our favorite… but really, they’re all amazing! Can’t wait to go back, I just wish I could find a way to take these back to Cali without them melting… although I’m sure they’d be great melted, as a smoothie :)

Aria Room Service
Not technically a restaurant, but wanted to give a little shout out to the wonderful room service staff and pretty good breakfast menu here. We had the potato cakes with a soft fluffy interior and super crunchy exterior, simple but well done & well seasoned. Accompanying the potato cakes were 1 plate of French toast, 2 thick slices of slightly sweet bread with an apple compote, probably enough for 2 and a plate of eggs Benedict, again, simple but well prepared.

Aria Buffet (lunch)
This was a comp so I didn’t pay for it… but in order to be able to afford the rest of my splurges & vacation we did try out 2 buffets… this was one of them. Really nothing to write home about, not much better than other buffets… some passable selections were the cheese/deli section with blue cheese & even Parmesan chuncks with Several nut choices, crackers, honey, dried fruits I thought that alone would do if I didn’t find anything worthy, also the chicken curry was decent with jasmine rice.
Desserts were ok, not great, but better than average for a buffet

Mirage Champagne Brunch
Again, comp … cheap champagne, cheap breakfast… if you stick to the basics bacon, pancake, hash browns… you’ll be ok… desserts were terrible… but as with Aria, they did have a nice selection of cheeses and deli meats.

Can’t wait to go back to Vegas…. next trip we want to try Twist (I need something creative!!) and Le Cirque was not one of them, Picasso as I feel I identify somewhat with the flavors although I understand they are by no means trying to stir the pot or reinventing the wheel sort of speak with their dishes, Sweets Raku which we missed (I was very very sad about this one) and JR if I have enough courage to spend that much (x2 since I travel with my son).

Hope you enjoy, feel free to ask questions, hope your not too hard on me
Happy New Year Chowhouders!

Yesi

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  1. Sorry, forgot Fat Choy!!
    Our first meal upon arrival to Las Vegas, even before we checked into our Hotel... Service here is very friendly and the food just amazing.
    We had the Shrimp Toast with bold flavors of the sausage and you could taste the garlic on the toast.
    My son had the Fat Choy Burger, such good burger patty, well seared with the fried egg on top, very well done burger.
    I had the short rib rice and let me tell you, that short rib had to be one of the most tender and delicious I've ever had. served also with a little salad on the side which is lightly dressed.
    Last but not least, we split the Duck Bao! Oh My! soft little pillow "tacos" :) with crunchy duck skin and soft tender duck meat, fresh little "salad" all in one little package...
    To drink we had a "Gummy Bear" soda and a Peach mellow yellow.
    Can you believe our bill was only around $40! incredible.

    1. ...people love to rave Le Cirque here, but imo it is vastly inferior to the big 3 French Chefs.

      Went to Five50 last week - came away very underwhelmed.

      Good reports - next time do Sweets Raku.

      http://endoedibles.com

      3 Replies
      1. re: uhockey

        Thanks uhockey... same feeling here... looking back, i wish i would have gone with Twist, which seems to stimulate diners palates much more than Le Cirque, even if you don't agree with all the dishes... i would appreciate the chef's "risk taking" ... next time for sure.. and Sweets Raku.

        1. re: yesilovestotravel

          I ate at Twist last night. It was my best meal in Vegas this year and in my top 10 for 2013. Ryuki's take on Gagnaire's cuisine has reached a whole new level.

          http://endoedibles.com

          1. re: uhockey

            I can't wait to try Twist, wish I would have gone with my gut feeling about Le Cirque ... But oh well, there's always next trip :)

      2. Thanks for the report -- really enjoyed it.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Dave Feldman

          Thanks Dave for taking the time to read it! :)

        2. I never understood the love for le cirque. They're like the gary danko of las vegas.

          6 Replies
          1. re: PorkyBelly

            porkbelly, when i read your comment, it made me think.. wow, well, yes, you're so right :) I've been to GD in SF and agree it was just ok, wouldn't go back, nothing stimulating in the menu, service just ok... everything just ok

            1. re: PorkyBelly

              ...so perfect. I love this. A true case of 'the vocal minority.'

              http://endoedibles.com

              1. re: uhockey

                Uhockey here's of my favorite quotes from Mark Twain: "Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect "

                1. re: yesilovestotravel

                  Great! If we all agreed on everything, this would indeed be a very boring group. I love the constant disagreements about the virtues of Trader Joe's, In 'n Out Burgers, molecular cuisine, noise levels in restaurants, etc. etc.

                  1. re: yesilovestotravel

                    I don't know that this is always the case...Saison, in SF, for instance is universally loved by people I respect - I drink that Kool-Aid. Le Cirque? It is one of MANY French restaurants in the city and not even close to the innovation or refinement of the best. It is good....as is Danko....but neither are 'best of' or 'must visit' material for tourists.

                    http://endoedibles.com

                    1. re: uhockey

                      Some of us may prefer more tradition and less innovation, and the cost of additional refinement to some of us might seem excessive. To me, LeC has always provided the right balance.

              2. Thanks for the reviews! The Le Cirque review makes me sad as I was really looking forward to trying it. It gets such great reviews normally and carries such hype that a meal like yours would really disappoint me.

                12 Replies
                1. re: ah6tyfour

                  Don't skip Le Cirque; I've dined at Le Cirque about half a dozen times through the past 10 years, and it's the one restaurant that has never disappointed me in LV (unlike my mixed dining experiences at Joel Robuchon, Guy Savoy and Twist). My most recent dinner was in March 2013 with the new chef. Service has always been very attentive--no missed mignardises. As for the patrons' attire, the most outrageous I saw was at Joel Robuchon with a family of 4 with 2 young children dressed in cheap torn shorts and t-shirts--guess they couldn't be bothered changing from the pool--definitely not proper dinner attire.

                  1. re: ellenost

                    Thanks, I really hope it ends up being a good meal and that I can make it before the Maccioni family pulls out.

                    I guess nothing can be more disappointing than my meal at Sage.

                    1. re: ah6tyfour

                      What happened at Sage? I loved my dinner the first time but my second dinner was not as special (hate when the hostess tries to seat me in the bar area when I had made my dinner reservation more than a month ahead of time).

                      1. re: ellenost

                        For me, the service was great at Sage except for a misstep where the waitress said she would go to the bar to inquire about making me a nonalcoholic cocktail and, instead of returning to inform me of the choices, she brought back a cocktail before I had agreed to order it. It tasted horrible (like cough syrup with almost-flat Sprite) and ended up costing me $14.

                        The downfall that evening was the food itself. I had the tasting menu and every dish from the amuse to the dessert had problems with balance. Each dish felt like it was missing a key component or had one component too many. The amuse was a cauliflower salad that had an overpowering taste of apple cider vinegar. The beef tartare was flavorless (and an offputting light pink color) and really begged for some acid. The main course was very salty and one-note (a little acid here would have helped too). I don't remember the dessert. The only thing that I enjoyed was the shot of warm hot chocolate at the end.

                        And this may seem like the ultimate "first world problem", but I was annoyed that the amuse had absolutely no connection with the rest of the meal. They gave me a cauliflower salad tasting of nothing but vinegar and celery seeds. It was essentially the opposite of anything else on the menu.

                        Hopefully it was just a bad night for the kitchen. But I was so excited to eat at Sage that the disappointment is enough for me to not return.

                      2. re: ah6tyfour

                        ah6tyfour, it wasn't bad, but not up to the standards that i expected, especially after all the great reviews and hype... but the misses were pretty big misses in my book... i mean, charging a $15 supplement for lobster, and then the lobster being no better than your local Red Lobster is pretty sad... i wish i would have spoken up, but i didn't... it was really badly cooked. The missed mignardises, come on, how did that happen?... I wouldn't go back i think... too many other restaurants to try.

                        I'm also very detailed and picky with high end restaurants, especially having just come back from dining this summer at Vienna's Steirereck, currently 9th in the world, and was absolutely fabulous, last year went to Tru in Chicago which was amazing... so just from comparison Le Cirque was not even close to these and others I've been to.
                        With that said, at least I'm glad i went and was able to make my own assumptions of the place... if i would have skipped it, I would have been left wondering...

                        lastly, let me just put you at ease that it wasn't horrible, some dishes were good, service was good with a couple of misses. just don't get the Lobster :)

                        1. re: yesilovestotravel

                          That's too bad about the missteps. I'm also not one to complain so I probably wouldn't have said anything about the lobster, but I think I would have mentioned the mignardises. That's a very big misstep and I wonder how it could have happened since your ticket shouldn't have been taken off the board until you had received the entire meal. You might want to contact the GM since I'm sure they would like to know about the problem and make it something that doesn't happen again during future services.

                          The problem with fine dining is it's a game of diminishing returns. You strive to eat at the most amazing restaurants and then no other restaurants can possibly compare. I just had a great dinner at Andre's, but I was comparing it to my meal at Eleven Madison Park, and there's just no ways Andre's can compare. But I guess this is not the worst problem to have in life.

                      3. re: ellenost

                        +1. I too have never had a miss in ~ 6 visits to LeC. I know it shouldn't bother me, but when someone sitting next to me at a beautiful formal restaurant like LeC is wearing jeans, t-shirt and baseball cap turned around...I'm not happy!

                        1. re: josephnl

                          My first experience at Le Cirque was when Wynn still owned the Bellagio...had the tasting menu with wine pairings + more, so a fairly expensive couple of hours. Sat next to a solo diner who came in wearing a football jersey and jeans...he ate a 3-course meal in less than 1/2 hour and was gone. Nothing has changed in the high-end casinos and their restaurants since then.....that guy gambled more in the last hour at the craps table (and was comped) than I did for 5 nights...It is part of the "deal" that the restauranteurs accept when putting in their "destination restos" in major casinos. My trips to Vegas in the 70's always included bringing a couple of suits (with ties) for the better dinners...now, well...the food is far, far better...at least.

                          1. re: VegasGourmet

                            Sorry to highjack this thread, but it's timely for me since my husband and I are coming to LV for two nights and one day on the back end of a short trip to LA and we had booked Le Cirque booked for sunday night at 9:30. I had been thinking of canceling Le Cirque because we decided we want a more casual, less stuffy experience. We're going to L'Atelier du Joel Robuchon the next night and are thinking about lunch at China Poblano for our one day. I don't see much mention on the board of Andrea's at the Wynn or Heritage Steak - two places I'm considering. I'm leaning toward Heritage Steak but my husband is a pescetarian, and is leaning toward Andrea's. Any feedback on either of those options? Thanks a bunch in advance.

                            1. re: tlubow

                              LeC is certainly not casual, but neither is it stuffy.

                              1. re: tlubow

                                I have been to Heritage Steak monthly since it opened and have enjoyed it very much. The basic concept is wood-fired food, seasonal and it is a lovely room.

                                I can't speak about the fish, but the steaks and sides are all excellent as is the service.

                                It has been named to a few best "new" restaurant lists for 2013- which I have read after the fact. I will be back this weekend.

                              2. re: VegasGourmet

                                I enjoy dressing for a nice dinner- to me, it is part of the experience.

                                I do notice however, that many times the nicely-dressed people are seated in the same area. This was very apparent a few months ago at Prime- which was packed on a weeknight BTW.

                                My friend commented on it and joked that we weren't eating in the "white trash" section. No offense to white trash.

                        2. Thank you for the detailed review Yesi. My last experience at Le Cirque (August 2013) was very similar to yours in impression. I too had wished my wife and I had gone to Twist but no worries as we will look forward to it next time! Glad you enjoyed Raku - a great place indeed.