Food & Travel: Las Vegas, Nevada, United States. (Part I – Fine Dining)

wheat-field-with-crows

Wheatfields with Crows

Vincent van Gogh, 1890.


It’s been a while.

I know, I know. I’m regressing back to the state where I’m about to put “writing” inside a drawer that I’ll open once in a blue moon. I’m trying not to do that, because I genuinely enjoy the time that I spend typing away on the keyboard. It’s decompressing in a sense. Ironically, I thought I wouldn’t have anything to say prior to writing anything, but it turned out that it was just something that I needed to do for the familiarity.

I’ve written so much about one experience that I’ve decided to divide my travel posts into different parts, starting with this one on a special dinner with my friends.

I’ve been a lot more active recently in terms of being a nomad, and so about three weeks ago, I’ve had the opportunity to meet up with my friends at the one and only Las Vegas. It’s funny, because I’ve coordinated the trip with them since March, and at that time we thought that the end of October is a hefty distance away.

Time seemed to fly within a blink of an eye.

(Note: It was also the first time I’ve been to Vegas during Halloween, but since it landed on a weekday, I was more or less exploring on my own. That explains the painting I’ve selected from Van Gogh.)


Caesar’s Palace: Restaurant Guy Savoy

Ever since two years ago, my friend and I have had an ongoing conversation about going to Guy Savoy’s restaurant…one day. It happened when I was asking her for Las Vegas restaurant recommendations. She is the type of person anyone would call a fine dining connoisseur, but definitely not in a snobbish way. She’s just pretty passionate about food, making her the ultimate source to ask for recommendations.

On the other hand, we’ve both been to Joël Robuchon (@ MGM Las Vegas) as well as é by José Andrés (@ Cosmopolitan Las Vegas) so it was an overall great experience to explore somewhere new with someone I adore. I should really write about those two restaurants one day, too, as they were fantastic as well.

Therefore, when we finally get to visit Guy Savoy on the 28th of October (thanks, iPhone album) – it was appropriate to get the Prestige Tasting Menu. I think all of the individual dishes deserve its own picture, so I’m going to post that instead of bundle all of them together to do them as much justice as I can.

Amuse-bouche and carbs. Lots of them. They were freshly made so I ate a lot.

Without further ado, here is the start of a wonderful and filling menu (that might be my own problem though):

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Kushi Oyster Concassée, Lemon and Seaweed Granité

I’m a huge fan of oysters – and in recent years, raw ones, even though I don’t know much about them yet. Raw oysters and lemon is a match made in heaven, and the seaweed gives it an additional texture. I may be biased, but it’s a good start.

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Osetra Caviar, Crab Salad and Heirloom Tomato Gelée

Honestly, I can’t really tell the difference between caviar quality, but I’m pretty sure the restaurant uses finer caviar. It’s still quite a light dish that introduces more flavors and a great successor to the oyster. I’ve decided to display three photos, because of the intricate detail that goes into producing the dish. The red nest on the top is made out of beets (lightly fried, if I remember correctly), and meshes well with the crab, caviar, and tomato once it softens with the liquid; it also provides more texture within the dish.

Octopus in Cold Steam, Romesco, Black Garlic and Croquetas

The most impressive detail of this dish was that the liquid the waiter poured down the dish was actually salt water from the sea if I remember correctly. I’m sure they’ve purified it somehow. The octopus was cooked perfectly – it wasn’t too tough to chew, and the additional croquettes add an extra crunch to it. Not to mention it was one of the most visually stimulating dishes from the entire menu.

Salmon Iceberg

My friends and I were trying to figure out the concept of this dish after it has been placed before us. The waiter rolled the cart over to us, placed the salmon on a huge slab of ice, and told us that the idea behind this dish is to play with extreme temperatures. The salmon is placed on ice at first, then on individual dishes with stock poured over it to heat it up.

When we ate it, the salmon wasn’t fully cooked inside (which was completely fine for us, as we all like Japanese food), which explains the disclaimer on the website menu. I’m still not too sure about the entire idea behind it, but the salmon was quite fresh and the stock was sweet.

 

Red Mullet, Fregula Sarda and Jus Corsé
Red Mullet, Fregula Sarda and Jus Corsé

This was the turning point for me. The dishes were getting stronger as evidenced in the jus – it was much thicker than the stock with the salmon, and the crisps on the top were the red mullet scales. If I remember correctly, the vegetable below the fish was spinach, and the fregula sarda (a type of round pellet pasta) was al dente.

As usual, everything went well together – whether it’s regarding texture or taste wise.

Seared Foie Gras* and Unagi Napoleon, Cherry Extraction and Green AlmondSeared Foie Gras* and Unagi Napoleon, Cherry Extraction and Green Almond
Seared Foie Gras and Unagi Napoleon, Cherry Extraction and Green Almond

Yikes. There’s no need for further introduction for foie gras – albeit its controversial nature. Unagi is the Japanese word for “eel”. I have to admit, I’ve never had a dish combination with foie gras and eel, both on the heavier side of the palette. The cherry extraction and green almond counteracts the oil and overwhelming greasiness that one gets when he / she takes the first bite out of foie gras.

Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup, Toasted Mushroom Brioche, and Black Truffle Butter

This was the second time I’ve had artichoke in the entirety of my life, so I can’t say I’m a good judge of it. However, oh my goodness – the biroche had the perfect crunch, and went well with the thick soup (think: pumpkin soup consistency). The black truffle wasn’t the only dominating flavor, and I have to say that the two make a pretty good duo.

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Hazelnut Crusted Sweetbread, Summer Squash Variation and Roasted Veal Jus

If I were to pick, this would probably be one of the least memorable dishes in Guy Savoy. It’s not because it wasn’t good – everything was exquisite in the restaurant, but it is because of my own unfamiliarity for the ingredients that were used to create this dish.

The sweetbread provides an extra type of “crunch” to it, although I wasn’t aware of what it was until I was doing my research and searching for it for more accuracy of the dish. It’s not a big deal though, because I’m more or less and adventurous eater. The hazelnut provided a sweeter taste to it, balanced out with the squash and veal.

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Pluma de Bellota Iberico, Textures of Corn, Basil, and Roasted Jus

Oh, Iberico. I was already in love when I saw that on the menu, but after further research, “Pluma de Bellota Iberico” is actually a type of cut from the pork, which is located at the end of the loin, and is one of the juicer parts of the meat.

What is so special about Iberico pork is that this type of pigs eat sweet acorns and grasses as their main diet, and they also get to roam around the range freely. This results in its unique texture and flavor as well as its marbling.

Overall, the pork, combined with the jus and sauce on the side was robust in flavor, and the fried slice of corn on the top added the crunch that accompanied well.

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Petit Basque Cheese, Textures of Pear and Saffron

The waiter recommended that we eat the entirety of the dish in one singular bite for the flavor. It was a huge bite, with a serious crunchy texture on the outside along with softness inside (think: fondue thickness). I can’t really recall any flavor but cheese.

“From Beet to Sweet”
“From Beet to Sweet”

Beet lovers, rejoice. This was a dish full of beets, and perhaps a transition of savory to sweet. On the side there were diced and fried beets, and beet mousse enclosed within candied beets.

I think this dish was innovative and highly focused on beets. It was creative, and the presentation was beautiful and impressive. Not so impressive for one of my friends who really isn’t a huge fan of beets though.

In terms of taste, it was great, but not my favorite out of the entire menu as it was focused on one singular ingredient.

Fig, Mediterranean Flavors
Fig, Mediterranean Flavors

Here’s another ingredient I’m not familiar with. Taiwan isn’t a place that has a lot of figs, and the ones that I’ve had here that were grown locally were pretty much tasteless. The local figs here are basically watery sacs over here, so I’m pretty much indifferent about them.

However – the dessert had a mixture of sweet and tartness, so it wasn’t sickly sweet. I’ve come to realize and accept the fact that my sweet and salty tolerances are declining (or maybe my taste is just getting more and more refined), so this is a delicate balance.

Dry Age Pineapple, Baked in Clay, Scent of Lemongrass, Mellowest Aloe Vera
Dry Age Pineapple, Baked in Clay, Scent of Lemongrass, Mellowest Aloe Vera

This one is pretty neat, as one of the pastry chefs came to our table to explain the dessert while working on its plating.

What the restaurant has done was to basically dry age the pineapple (like how beef would be dry aged), and the size of the pieces as shown above were reduced severely due to dehydration. This resulted in bite sized, flavor packed pineapple squares. The chef was breaking open a pineapple shaped clay mold (if I remember correctly) to reveal the pineapple we were about to eat.

To be honest, I’ve never been a huge fan of eating pineapple by itself because of the stinging sensation it brings my tongue whenever I try them. There is a reason behind the “sting”; pineapples have an enzyme that breaks down called “bromelain” that breaks down protein (meaning it digests protein). This explains that there’s that feeling on the tongue whenever one eats too much pineapple. It also explains why pineapple is used as meat tenderizer as a culinary ingredient.

Again, I dug in (even though I was super full by that time) and finished the entire plate. Perhaps it was the dry age – the pineapple provided the tart with a smudge of sweetness that paired well with the ice cream. It was a refreshing dessert.

Cocoa “Pie”
Cocoa “Pie”

I can’t say “no” to chocolate, even though I was so stuffed I could just pass out from food coma then.

The chocolate flakes on the top balances the sweetness of the pie on the bottom with a dash of bitter, which would’ve gone really well with the coffee and tea that the restaurant offered, but we were all planning to drink later, so we politely declined.

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Dessert Cart: Fall (Halloween) Macarons 

Last but not least, despite having a stomach that was about to burst, we were offered desserts on the cart. There was a hefty selection of freshly baked and made dessert, but ultimately I picked my favorite macarons to try, especially because it was close to Halloween and I do like seasonal desserts.

I guess I can save the others for next time with the same company or different.

The jack-o’-lantern looking macaron was of course, pumpkin flavored, and the cobweb black macaron was sesame flavored (I believe…? I forgot, really). They were both tasty, but I preferred the pumpkin flavored more as it was a flavor that I’ve never had.


So, was the restaurant worth the price tag?

I suppose it really depends on the person.

Personally, I am more than okay with spending money on experiences, whether it’s by myself or with my loved ones, so in my opinion, I’d say this meal was worth every penny spent. I also think that my palette has evolved throughout the past couple of years by getting the opportunity to travel and experience new cuisines – and not just fine dining, but also street food.

The ingredients, effort, and service was impeccable, not to mention the decor and ambiance of the restaurant.

I haven’t had the opportunity to try to wine tasting, but I would do so next time, as when we were offered the wine list, the server rolled a cart over with what looked like a dictionary or an encyclopedia on it. I can’t imagine how the list would be.

This is definitely somewhere I’d look forward to visit some other time in the future.

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