Thursday, December 10, 2009

Restaurant Guy Savoy - 12/06/2009

3570 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 731-7110

Perhaps the hardest decision to make during our trip is where to have dinner after the spectacle that is Twist. Options on Sunday are fairly limited as most of the fine dining establishments in the city are closed. I pushed strongly for Guy Savoy, but my companion, who went recently, was more interested in Raku or Lotus of Siam. Finally I called the restaurant and asked if they could change up the menu and GM Franck Savoy, son of the famed chef, was more than willing to comply.

The Las Vegas outpost of Guy Savoy was designed as a clone of the famous Parisian outpost. The menu consists of several of Chef Guy Savoy's most famous courses, though they change seasonally as ingredients permit.

The restaurant is hidden behind a daunting set of double doors which a hostess stands behind and opens as diners approach. The restaurant itself has a number of dining areas including a bar, the main dining room, several semi-private alcoves, and the luxurious Krug room. A number of friends who had visited the restaurant, mentioned it being almost empty however when we arrived it was about half full, and it only got busier as the meal progressed.

Canape 01: Parmesan Waffles
The meal opened with two bite sized waffles covered with Parmesan shavings. The golden brown waffle had a spongy interior wrapped in a flaky golden exterior. The light bready sweetness of the waffle was complimented by the nutty zest of the cheese.

Canape 02: Country Sandwich with Foie Gras and Black Truffle
Our second canape was quite a step up in terms of luxury, melding the classic pairing of foie gras and truffle with a rough textural counterpoint from the crusty bread.

Canape 03: French Burger
The last little pre-amuse was the most spectacular, its dainty size completely at odds with the intense beefy tang. The variety of accents: salt, pepper, herbs and mustard, only serve to highlight the the essence of the meat. Chef Bradley Ogden once jokingly asked me "What does a Frenchman know about burgers?" After trying this I'd have to say quite a lot.

Black Pepper Rosemary Bread
Despite having an extensive bread cart, we were brought a single loaf of rosemary black pepper bread. The loaf was a satisfying start to the extensive bread tasting menu that was to follow, possessing a delicate bite and herbaceous finish.

Amuse: Root Vegetable Cream with Celery, Green Apple, Mushroom Powder and a Surprise!
I was expecting the base to be on the sweeter side but the soup is fairly neutral with just a gentle savoriness to it. The fresh celery and apple add tiny darts of tang and bitterness. Our waiter told us to add the mushroom powder for extra flavor but I didn't think it added very much. After finishing the soup, we were invited to lift the saucer and reveal the surprise, a miniature capon (castrated rooster) salad, think the most flavorful chicken salad ever. It would make a perfect lunch repast.

Finally we come to the Menu Prestige. My companion having been before, was only willing to return if he wouldn't have any repeat courses; therefore, for the five repeats on the menu we asked the kitchen to surprise us. When Franck came by we thanked him for the consideration and he sounded only

01: Oysters in Ice Gelée
Huîtres en Nage Glacée
Roland Tissier et Fils, Sancerre, 2006
Seaweed Ciabatta
The first course of the menu prestige consisted of two perfectly shaped oysters Kushi oysters resting on a thick layer of oyster cream and topped with a layer of the namesake ice oyster gelée. Perhaps one of the most powerfully flavored oysters I have ever tasted, the sweet succulent flesh was intensified by the gelée while the cream offered a weighty look at the sweeter side of the characteristic oyster liquer. The bread paired with this is a seaweed ciabatta that I found overpowered initially but with a satisfying nori-like presence on the finish, quite suited to the saliferous flavor of the mollusks.

02a: Marinated Lobster, Salad and Gelée of Carrots and Autumn Herbs
Homard Mariné, Carottes en Gelée et Salade
Marc Brédif, Vouvray, 2006
Seaweed Ciabatta
I was initially wary of this combination; in my experience, the sweetness of the carrots overwhelm the palate masking the charms of the lobster. So I first tasted the lobster on its own and found it possessed an ethereal crunch and mild sweetness nicely enhanced by the lobster consommé. The carrots far from being too sweet, added more of a fresh vegetal note. On the side came a scoop of tapioca pearls wrapped with braised lettuce that provided an intriguing chewiness and depth to the crisper elements in the dish. The bread pairing continued with the seaweed ciabatta, which seemed to take on a sweeter complexion when paired with the lobster.

02b: Mosaic of Milk Fed Poularde, Foie Gras, and Artichoke, Black Truffle Jus
Mosaïque de Volaille, Foie Gras et Artichauts, Jus à la Truffe
Lucien Albrecht, Cuvée Cécile, Pinot Gris, Alsace, 2005
Miche Bread
The most visually inelegant course of the evening though also one of the most flavorful and intriguing. The body of the course consisted of three layers, poularde (neutered hen), foie gras, and artichoke. After my initial taste, I likened this to a paté but such a simple description does not do the course justice. The chicken had a lean crumbly texture and simple flavor complimented by the velvety smooth texture of the foie. The artichoke on the other hand had a denseness to it and provided a starchy weight to the dish.

03a: Crispy Sea Bass with Delicate Spices
Bar en Ecailles Grillées aux Epices Douces
Mersault, Joseph Drouhin, 2007
Lemon Bread
Next up for me was the crispy sea bass. Our waiter explained the name comes from the crisp edible skin which is produced by cooking the fish skin-side first on high heat which gives the scales a crispness similar to fried shrimp skin. The fish was masterfully prepared, with a simple satisfying savoriness that would be a common theme to many of the fish courses for the evening. Very light seasoning gave the fish sufficient flavor yet made it possible to appreciate the natural beauty of the fish. The delicate spices were anything but, immediately after tasting the spice I was left with a numbing sensation on my tongue that can only come from Sichuan peppercorns. The sensation was quite enjoyable and a key aspect in balancing the accompaniments of vanilla and Swiss chard. I found the bread a touch unbalanced, with bites containing the lemon zest overly acidic and those without too bland for the fish.

03b: John Dory "à la Plancha", Ginger and Sunchokes "Toutes Saveurs"
Saint Pierre «à la Plancha» Pâtes
Les Plantiers du Haut-Brion, Pessac-Leognan, 2001
Lemon Bread
The simple savoriness I so enjoyed with the bass was even more apparent with the fuller-bodied Dory. Another simply delicious fish the firm meaty flesh perfectly seasoned. The tangy sauce was a bit intense though the juiciness of the sunchokes went a long way to diluting its acidity.

04a: «Colors of Caviar»
Domaines Schlumberger, Grand Cru Saering, Riesling, Alsace, 2006
Plain Ciabatta
Another of Chef Savoy's signatures this was a beautiful multi-layer affair composed of: caviar vinaigrette, caviar crème fraîche, Oscetra caviar, haricot vert purée and finished tableside with a dollop of egg sabayon. Our server advised us to reach all the way down and try to experience all the layers simultaneously. This resulted in a multifaceted dish that evolves with every bite. My initial bite consisted of a distinct sweet piquancy from the bottom layers rising to a nutty brine tinged herbaceousness and fading to an eggy richness. The plain ciabatta provided a substantive texture while maintaining a light flavor that let the caviar shine through.

04b: Scallop Carpaccio, White Truffle Pasta, Poached Quail Egg
Carpaccio de St. Jacques, Pâtes à la Truffe Blance, Œuf de Caille Poché
Marc Brédif, Vouvray, 2006
Plain Ciabatta
The next course was a special only available during white truffle season. Truffle with starch, truffle with egg, and truffle with scallop are all classic pairings and put together it was impossible not to love this course. With truffle courses it is all too easy to get caught up in the luxurious essence of the truffle and forget about the rest of the course. Getting past the truffle, the chewy pasta provides mouth feel and character to the silky egg yolk and delicate scallop.

05a: Foie-Gras "en Papillote" and Radish Bouillon
Lucien Albrech, Cuvée Cécile, Pinot Gris, Alsace, 2005
Caramelized Onion Bread
To tantalize the palate, our sever presented us with the foie gras still cooking in the plastic pouch which was cut open releasing a gout of steam tinged with the heady aroma of the foie. The dish was then plated in the kitchen and returned to us ready to be devoured. The foie itself was nicely prepared, nearly molten and oozing pure decadence, but nearly leaden when taken alone. The steamed radishes gushed with rich bitter juice heightened by the bitterness of the leaves, an effective counter though perhaps a bit too strong especially with the acerbic vinegar thrown into the mix.

05b: Roasted Monkfish, Salsify Confit, Hazelnuts and Watercress Jus
Queue de Lotte Rôtie, Salsifis Confits dans sa Peau, Noisettes et Jus de Cresson
Joseph Drouhin, Meursault, 2007
Chestnut Bread
Along with the foie, we were presented with the monkfish which was taken back to the kitchen and deboned before being served. A muscular fish, the monkfish was even denser and firmer than the dory, and demonstrated the same sapor of the other two fishes elevated to dizzying new levels by the brown butter and salsify. The watercress provided a marked peppery herbaceousness that tempered the forcefulness of the brown butter.

06a: Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup, Toasted Mushroom Brioche, and Black Truffle Butter
Soupe d'Artichaut à la Truffe Noire, Brioche Feuilletée aux Champignons et Truffe
Domaine Marchand Fréres, Villes Vignes, Chambolle-Musigny, 2004
One of the most spectacular soups I have ever tasted, and I don't even like artichoke! From the first spoonful of smooth velvety broth, I was treated to a medley of cheese and truffle over a luscious canvas of artichoke. A simple trio of ingredients whose flavors interweave effortlessly. The side of truffled mushroom brioche adds an earthiness that accentuates the flavor of the truffle

06b: Pumpkin Soup, Poached Egg and Alba White Truffles
Soupe de Potiron et Citrouille à l'Œuf et Truffe Blanche d'Alba
E Guigal, Condrieu, 2006
Toasted Brioche
Our waiter ladled this soup straight out of a large pumpkin which made me think it was actually cooked in the gourd like Chinese Wintermelon soup, however the pumpkin was just for presentation sake. My previous experiences with pumpkin soup have been to a one overly sweet and I was expecting the same, though by now I should have realized the kitchen has better control over flavors than to churn out something so one dimensional. The liquid egg yolk went a long way to softening the sweetness of the soup and provided a bridge to the fragrant white truffle.

07: Roasted Veal Chop, Black Truffle Potato Purée, Young Vegetables Braised in Veal Jus
Côte de Veau Juste Rôtie, Purée, de Pommes de Terre à la Truffe Noire, Légumes Braisés au Jus de Veau
Moillard, Crozes-Hermitage, 2007
Whole Wheat Bread
This course also came with a sneak peak that looked positively mouthwatering. With veal it is all too easy to overcook the meat into a tough flavorless brick but this may have been the rarest presentation of veal I have ever seen barring the veal tartare at LudoBites. Surprisingly tender and full flavored for veal, this may be my favorite preparation of cooked veal, despite that it was still overshadowed by the delicious truffled potatoes.

08: Sélection de Fromages Affinés
Sandeman, 20 Year Tawny Port, NV
Clockwise from the top, the cheeses are: Crottin de Chavignol(Goat), Sainte- Maure(Goat), Morbier(Cow), Comté(Cow), Saint-Nectaire(Cow), Ossau-Iraty(Sheep), and Fourme d'Ambert(Cow). I wasn't too thrilled by the selection of cheeses, in general the flavors were suitably varied but texturally the cheeses tended to be dry and gritty.

Intermezzo: Tangerine «Three Ways»
The intermezzo was a study in citrus, fresh tangerine, sorbet, and a fruit crisp. The cool scintillating tang of the fruit was complimented by an herbal mint foam, equally refreshing though in a very different way. A lovely contrast reminiscent of the passionfruit sandwich at Hella ja Huone.

09: Coconut «Six Ways»
Noix de Coco
Chateau de Farques, Sauternes, 1998

In continuing the trend started by the last course, this one centered around six presentations (fresh, tapioca, cake, emulsion, granité, crisp) of a single ingredient, coconut. I found this an interesting blend of subtly distinct yet familiar flavors. A bit late in the meal for such a course, palate exhaustion made it difficult to fully appreciate all the nuances.

10: Chocolate Fondant, Crunchy Praline and Chicory Cream
Fondant Chocolat au Pralin Feuilleté et Crème Chicorée
M. Chapoutier, Banyuls, 2006
An elegantly simple final dessert, the dense chocolate was a touch overwhelming though I appreciated the simplicity at this point, preferring to enjoy the sweet rich chocolate without pondering what other aspects lay beneath.

Just as the meal opened with a staggeringly varied bread cart, it fittingly ends with a daunting presentation of mignardises. Any return visit is likely going to be years away so I felt compelled to try everything on the cart. The top tray held a scoop of Brown Butter Ice Cream. The middle row was replete with candies including Chocolate and Pecan Macarons, a Chocolate Tartlet, a Lime Tartlet with Meringue, Macadamia nuts, a Dark Chocolate with Ginger, a Milk Chocolate with Pumpkin, a White Chocolate with Egg Nog, and a Green Apple Paté De Fruit. The tray closest to me consisted of a Warm Apple Compote with Crumble, Pear Sorbet, and Lime-Coconut Sherbet. The jars from top to bottom held Caramel Flan, Pink Praline Rice Pudding, Vanilla Rice Pudding, and Chocolate Mousse. I particularly enjoyed the frozen desserts and the macadamia nuts.

After the savory courses we were given a brief tour of the kitchen and spoke briefly with the executive chef, Eric Bost. Sadly after 3 years in Las Vegas Chef Bost will be heading to Singapore for the foreseeable future to run the kitchen at Savoy's newest restaurant in the Marina Bay Sands. In his place steps former sous chef, Hugo Coudurier. I snapped a photo with the chef; however as I look like I am about to fall asleep on my feet and burst open at the seams, I thought I'd spare people the pain of seeing it. Kevin has quite a knack for taking unflattering photos of me, or perhaps he's shot too much food and forgotten how to photograph people.

Though, nowhere near as complex or thought provoking as the food at Twist, but far more satisfying. Most of the core protein of the savory courses started with a simple delicious flavor and built upon that with sides that accent and contrast but never overwhelm. Rather than astound and amaze, the courses were designed with a thought towards flavor above all other concerns. If Pierre Gagnaire the mad scientist, then Guy Savoy would be the elder statesman, relying more on classical techniques and pairings than daring and innovation.

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