A trip to Las Vegas wouldn't be complete without a fancy schmancy dinner consisting of at least four courses and an amuse bouche or two at a restaurant named after a chef who's earned three stars from the esteemed Michelin guide. Two nights ago, I noshed at Joel Robuchon's casual eatery, L'Atelier
. But that experience didn't compare to Guy Savoy's eponymous restaurant in Caesars Palace's Augustus Tower. Monsieur Savoy's son, Frank, and his daughter-in-law, Laura, who had handled my reservation and menu requests, stopped by to introduce themselves and exchange pleasantries and business cards with me and my dinnermates.
I think Savoy's three-month-old venture in the land of togas and laurel wreaths was the perfect hybrid of low and high culture. Just take a look at the bear sculpture created by Frenchman David Mach out of colored match sticks.
Bernard, the super-nice maitre behind the champagne bar, entertained Emili and me with tales about his 25-plus years working at various restaurants in Los Angeles, starting wtih the original Spago and ending with his difficulty in securing a reservation at Wolfgang Puck's new steakhouse, Cut, in the Beverly Regent Wilshire Hotel for Robin Williams' manager. After recommending a rose champagne by Bruno Paillard (superb!), he offered shots of tomato gazpacho, teeny tiny foie gras club sandwiches impaled on silver toothpicks and olive brioches. Since Adam and I were the only two members of The Foie Faction
present, it wasn't an official eating meeting of our pro-foie gras political action group. Still, it wasn't a bad way to represent.
After the rest of our party of eight joined us, we were directed to our round table in a private room with a view of the Barbary Coast's neon lights. If only Missy (left) and Emili had eyes behind their heads.
Our eyes were not the only ones treated to such spectacle. The amuse bouche of fennel, shallots and cold carrot soup hid a surprise for us. Under the double-ended cups was a pyramid comprising a parmesan crisp, half of a cherry tomato, sliver of prosciutto and a dime of a blood sausage.
Our first official course was a slow-cooked wild King salmon with licorice, star anis jus and foam. The bread man suggested a ciabatta to go with our first course. I had to rebel; I ordered a bacon roll.
The second course, Mr. Savoy's signature artichoke and black truffle soup, was served with a specific baked good: a toasted mushroom brioche smeared with black truffle butter.
In lieu of the veal shank, I had requested a substitution of chicken, since some dinnermates had objected to veal for humanitarian and dietary reasons. The chef cooked a whole bird for us. Halfway into our feasting on the unbelievably tender breasts of poached poulard, we were offered extra morsels of the dark meat. I was one of the few at the table who accepted the additional pieces. The brown basmati rice was cooked al dente. The cabbage was stuffed with carrot cubes.
To clean our palate, we scooped up a round of mint ice cream nestled in a fortress of diced plums.
Our dessert was a chocolate fondant decorated with crunchy praline headpieces that would make a showgirl proud. Many of the dishes and silverware were custom-made for Mr. Savoy. I wondered which came first: the rectangular plate with a shallow crevice on the right-hand side or the chicory cream.
I loved the square teapot in which my mint tea was steeped. It was ingenious that the tea ball was attached to the bottom of the heavy ceramic-coated iron lid. Although Mr. Savoy didn't offer each of the ladies a giant brioche
as Joel Robuchon's peeps had at the end of our multicourse meal last February, I walked away with a copy of our special menu and a box of caramels.