Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Honeymoon Hiatus

Well, we are not actually on a honeymoon. More of an anniversary trip, although it was originally meant as more of a second honeymoon. Mr. B and I are celebrating our 25th wedding anniversary this week. Originally we were supposed to be in a small boutique hotel on Jamaica, washing our cares away with Caribbean waters and rum, but Mr. B’s employer had other ideas – like sending him out to freezing cold Washington DC for a meeting – right in the middle of our vacation plans. So we postponed the warm and did an impromptu trip to Vegas and Palm Springs to celebrate for a week. Brilliant Daughter did the Dan Dan Noodle Post for me, so Eating Suburbia wouldn’t go without. And as a bonus, I thought I would treat you to a written tribute to the wonderful food we have been consuming since our arrival in Sin City.

Two meals stand out at this point, and both involve Hubert Keller. The famous French chef, who trained with the likes of Paul Bocuse and Roger Verge, has made quite a name for himself around the world. Like many renowned chefs, he has brought his name to Las Vegas. In addition to his high-end-restaurant, Fleur de Lys in Mandalay Bay, he also opened Burger Bar in Mandalay Place, along with Cef Laurenat Pillard. These two bastions of gastronomic greatness have filled my tummy in the last two days.

First, the Burger Bar, which is no ordinary diner. It is a high-end spot with rich wood panel interior, long bars, and some surprises on the menu. Yes, you can watch sports on the flat screens, and yes, you can get shakes. But you get so much more than that. When we were here last summer, we had a burger here and were impressed. But there were two items on the menu that intrigued me and this time I took the opportunity (read: indulgence) to try them out. The most expensive item on the menu is the Rossini Burger. Kobe beef, ground and shaped in a hamburger patty with seared foie gras and shaved truffles on top, served with Keller’s famous Madeira sauce. I ordered this with their sweet potato fries. It was glory in my mouth. Great tasting beef, a thick slab of foie gras, and an abundance of dark black truffle slices made for a delectable experience. Not a crumb went to waste and I mopped the sweet potato fries in the leftover sauce, as well. At $60, most people will not order this item, and most feel it won’t be worth it, but at the price of Kobe beef ($24.99/lb at Son the Butcher’s shop), as well as foie gras and truffles, it really isn’t such a high price to pay. My second treat, which apparently came with the $60 burger, was their dessert burger. They have three dessert burgers on the menu. One is a cheesecake burger, which I neglected to read about, as I am not a fan of cheesecake. The second is a PB&J burger, which is a peanut butter mousse with jelly centered in a large round raised donut. The one I chose, at the urging of Brilliant Daughter, was the Chocolate Burger. Again, a whole donut (no hole) sliced in half, with chocolate ganache serving as a burger patty, sliced strawberries as tomatoes, mint leaves as lettuce, and a slice of passion fruit gelee that looked like a piece of cheese. It really did look like a burger. The taste, not so much like a burger, but not great, either. Of course, after the Rossini Burger, not much could compare. The ganache was a bit too hard, and there was not enough of the strawberries or mint to counteract the heaviness of the chocolate. A fun thing to try, but I wouldn’t recommend ordering it. I didn’t have a camera but took some shots with my phone, which I cannot retrieve without some special cord, so those will have to wait (although the resolution and clarity is rather murky).

For our anniversary dinner, Mr. B and I had made reservations weeks ago at Fleur de Lys in Mandalay Bay. Keller’s main restaurant is always booked and I can see why. A small restaurant, with tables adequately spaced, it has a very elegant feel to it. The 20-foot leaf on the wall, made entirely of baby pink rosebuds was a marvel, as was the wine storage area on the 2nd floor. High ceilings, long, flowing draperies throughout add to the elegance. They offer a 3-course, 4-course- and 5-course meal, with wine pairings, if you so choose, or you can order a la carte. I opted for the 4-course, Mr. B the 3 course, and no wine this time around, as my darling brother had sent us a wonderful bottle of champagne, which we had enjoyed prior to dinner.

The meal starts with an amuse bouche, which consisted of smoked salmon canelle in a fennel cream sauce. Decorated to look like a crustacean, it had antennae and two eyes. The salmon was very tasty, the fennel cream sauce very mild. First course: Oven roasted quail breast with foie gras torchon and frissee salad, two quail legs made to look like corn dogs, a mushroom compote with parmesan crisp and a celery root fondant shaped like a cupcake with quail yolk on top and hazelnuts on the side. The quail was very flavorful, the legs fun to eat, but the celery root fondant lacked any flavor, despite its gorgeous presentation. Mr. B had a chilled Maine lobster salad, with a watermelon granita and small cubes of watermelon, decorate with crème fraiche to look like dice, and a balsamic reduction swirl that added a burst of flavor to the sweet watermelon. Second course: Roasted Main lobster in a carrot puree, topped with pea shoots and mint oil, finished with a curry-orange sauce. The curry-orange sauce was not discernable and the carrot puree may have been too diluted, but the flavor of the dish was very good. The mint oil with the pea shoots added a nice surprise. Third course: I had Colorado lamb loin with lamb shank cannelloni, eggplant caviar, and artichoke barigoule. The lamb was so tender I probably didn’t even need the knife. The cannelloni was coated in a parmesan, but unfortunately that made it a bit too salty for my taste. Mr. B had an aged 12-ounce Prime Steak with red wine reduction, served with braised leeks and rustic potato stew en cocette, finished with truffle oil. The steak was heavenly, served with house-made whole grain mustard, sea salt, Hawaiian sea salt, fresh ground peppercorns, and a shallot butter, to use as you choose. When Mr. B opened the little cast-iron pot with the potatoes and leeks and stirred it, the aroma of truffle oil was a powerful force, and these were probably the best potatoes I have ever had. Ever. Dessert: I had the French Berry Delight, which consisted of fresh berries on a very thin layer of genoise (how do they get it so thin?), pineapple & peach brochette, lime mouse with meringue top, pyramid of chocolate mousse, and a coconut sorbet lollipop sitting in roasted flaked coconut. Each item was 2-3 bites, but I still felt that there was too much going on. The berry genoise was unremarkable, as was the lime mousse. I loved the frozen coconut sorbet on a green candy stick and the chocolate pyramid. The peach and pineapple was a nice palate refresher. Mr. B had the Grand Marnier soufflé with crème anglaise and orange-cardamom ice cream. A huge portion, he could not finish it all. It was light and airy and full of flavor, as was the ice cream. A wonderful way to eat ourselves into oblivion on our anniversary. Each table had a waiter and at least two servers/bussers, who knew each dish by heart and described each as it was delivered. Definitely in the Top 10 meals we have ever had. I can highly recommend Fleur de Lys.

Now, it’s time to buckle down and make some money in the casino!


Jen Liang said...

Hi! I am a coworker of Alex's at Thomson and she told me about your blog which I HAD to read. I was a food critic in college, and though I write about math and science now, it's pretty notorious around the office that I'm a picky eater (although really, that's incorrect because I'll eat anything...I'll just critique it too!).

Jen Liang said...

Hi! I am a coworker of Alex's at Thomson and she told me about your blog which I HAD to read. I was a food critic in college, and though I write about math and science now, it's pretty notorious around the office that I'm a picky eater (although really, that's incorrect because I'll eat anything...I'll just critique it too!).

Mrs. B said...

Welcome to my blog, Jen. Criticism is welcome (except about my lemons!).

Dusty said...

Wishing you and Mr. B a happy anniversary. Good luck at the casinos