Sunday, October 21, 2012

Gordon Ramsay Steak - 09/22/2012

3655 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109
(702) 946-4663

You'd think after my last trip to the London I'd be through with Gordon Ramsay, but somehow we found ourselves at his brand new steakhouse in the Paris Hotel which displaced Les Artistes Steak House (insert witty comment about a Brit taking over Paris, and yes Gordon's image is plastered on the Arc de Triomphe outside the casino). The interior of the restaurant has been completely changed from its days as Les Artistes. The bar area is modeled after a London Tube station, while the main dining room has a sexy red motif. Oddly the private dining room on the second floor remains largely unchanged with wood paneling and drab brown walls

Side Car - Hennessey VSOP, Orange Curacao, Apricot Jam, Bitter, Lemon Juice
The first time I had a Side Car I likened it to an adult orange juice. Unfortunately the jam was a bit much, dulling the bright citrus levity I was hoping to find.

English Garden - Hendricks Gin, Lemon, Basil, Cucumber, Basil Infused Rock Candy, Celery Bitters
I'm a sucker for cucumber based cocktails so this was a no-brainer. While the mix of vegetables certainly made this one of the more intriguing cocktails, I thought the intensity of the celery needed to be dialed back a notch.

Strawberry Martini - Bombay Gin, Lemon, Strawberries
We ordered this extra sweet and the resulting cocktail came out tasting like fresh strawberries and little else.

The Drifter - Paris LV Proprietary Knob Creek Barrel #77, Ginger Liquer, Falernum, Lemon, Bitters
Hands down the best cocktail of the quintet, The Drifter has a balanced sweet and sour profile with a slight boozy kick from the bourbon.

Pimm's Cup - Pimm’s No. 1, Sparkling Lemonade
I always thought there was more to this than just lemonade, but the mix proved to be a lightly effervescent and fruity, not overly complex, but a wonderful summer cocktail.

2011 I.V.I.S.p.A.-Canelli Moscato d'Asti Risata
We went with a sweeter sparkler to suit the palate of one of my companions. A pretty straightforward Asti, plenty of floral sweetness with plenty of bubbles, more than one friend likened it to alcoholic Sprite.

Short Rib Tortellini - bay scallops, foie gras emulsion, Sausalito watercress
The tortellini proved to be a wonderful start to the meal. The short rib filling is immensely flavorful and the meat's natural richness is augmented by the foie gras emulsion. The rest of the dish proved to be just as engaging with the scallops providing a striking jolt of brine and the watercress adding a nice vegetal pepperiness.

Market Green Salad - butter lettuce, crisp pancetta, market greens, shropshire blue cheese, tomato raisins, green goddess dressing
I can't fathom why one of my companions insisted on ordering this course. A relatively pedestrian salad, the savor of the fried pancetta and tang of the dressing are nice but not enough to make this stand out against the other appetizers.

Asparagus Soup - dungeness crab, parmesan custard, pickled white asparagus, smoked salmon caviar
The bright green hue foreshadowed the resonant verdance of the broth. The crab was a classic companion, the sweet shellfish and bitter asparagus play off of and amplify one another. The masterstroke was the salmon caviar, brazenly salty with a saline pop to dilute the creamy vegetable soup.

Smoked Beef Tartare - lemon zest, red onion, capers, guinness infused mustard seeds, yukon gold herb chips
The tartare is brought to the table under a glass dome filled with hazy smoke and as soon as the lid is lifted the smell of burning wood makes its presence felt. The meat still bears a strong woody bite adding complexity to a textbook steak tartare.

Maine Lobster - chorizo stuffed maine lobster, butter poached, brandied lobster cream sauce, sweet corn
I liked the idea of a chorizo stuffed lobster, but the execution didn't quite live up to my expectations. Though the sausage added a weighty savor, the texture of the lobster felt a bit off. The bisque-like cream sauce brings the lobster back to the fore while the corn helps tease out the shellfish's inherent sweetness.

Heirloom Tomato - jamón ibérico de bellota, piccalilli purèe ticklemore cheese, champagne vinaigrette, basil crystals
We probably would have skipped this course if not for the strong recommendation from our server. The ibérico makes all the difference with an oily slickness and rich salty funk that contrast and augment the succulent sweetness of the tomatoes.

2010 Bodega Catena Zapata Malbec Argentino High Mountain Vines
This was an easy drinking red with plenty of juicy berry fruit with chocolate and oak as well as sensation of florid softness lurking in the mix.

Rather than order individual mains, my party opted to do a "steak tasting" and the restaurant was more than happy to oblige even kindly pre-cutting the steaks for easier sharing.

Prime Beef: Bone-in Rib Eye 24oz
The Black Angus cuts come from Pat LaFreida, a New York meat purveyor who dry ages the meat for 28 days in a Himalayan salt room. Being the greedy bastard that I am, I went straight for the rib cap. The meat had a profound richness to it thanks to the higher fat content, though I would have liked the dry-aged character to be more apparent.

Prime Beef: New York Strip 18oz
This was my favorite of our initial trio. The meat has a muscular firmness but doesn't feel tough and the flavor is a bit more complex with plenty of char and the sweet nutty bovine sapor to balance the buttery flavor of the fat.

Prime Beef: Filet 8oz
Completing the first part of our steak tasting was the filet. Easily the tenderest of the trio, but downright boring flavor-wise.

Sautéed Asparagus - chanterelle, white asparagus puree, veal demi-glace
Fire Roasted Corn - corn, chile, lime
Spinach - sautéed or gratinéed with parmesan cream
Mac & Cheese - blue, cheddar, parmesan, truffle
Sautéed Mushrooms - garlic chips, scallions, bonito
Fingerling Potatoes - parmesan, truffle
At first glance the sides seem like your typical steakhouse fare, but aside from the spinach and asparagus they were all quite delicious. I thought the mushrooms stood out thanks to the umami-laced smokiness of the bonito, a wonderful nuance atop the earthy pungency of the fleshy shrooms. A number of my companions thought the Mac & Cheese was the best they'd ever tasted and I can see why, the pasta was cooked to the perfect consistency while the medium-bodied sauce has a pleasing truffle laden silkiness that didn't feel overly heavy. Corn with chili and lime isn't anything groundbreaking but that didn't make the bright blend of heat and acid any less delicious.

2003 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon Diamond Mountain
Though I've been shying away from fruit bomb cabs this one had enough complexity to keep things interesting. The abundance of ripe plum on the nose and attack can be a bit overbearing but if one looks past that there are also coffee and tobacco notes as well as a bit of cedar.

American Kobe: Rib Cap 8oz
Consisting of the upper part of the Rib Eye, this was far and away the best steak of the night. The coarse loose muscle fibers are threaded with plenty of fat but still exude a wonderful beefiness.

American Kobe: Filet 8oz
Filet has never been my favorite cut of beef, though tender the flavor leaves much to be desired. This was everything one would expect from a filet writ large; biting through the meat feels positively sensual, but the flavor was absurdly dull compared to the rib cap that I'd eaten previously.

Roasted Beef Wellington - glazed root vegetables, potato puree, red wine demi glace
After a disastrous experience at the London West Hollywood, we were eager to see if Ramsay could redeem him signature dish. To his credit this was quite delicious, the tenderloin was medium rare with a rich meaty tang heightens by the sauce and covered with a flaky buttery wrapping. The accompaniments of vegetables and mashed potato don't add much but that simplicity makes it easier to appreciate the Wellington

Fish and Chips - loup de mer, truffle chips, crème fraiche tarter sauce
Made with Branzino, this was a nicely gentrified take on fish and chips. The loup de mer is a bit more complex than your typical working class fare and the it showed in the supple texture and nuanced briny sapor. As much as I enjoyed the fish, the chips were the star of the dish for me, crisp and light with plenty of truffle aroma

2007 Maculan Torcolato
This was my first time having botrytised Italian wine but the flavor was quite familiar. The honeyed elixir has plenty of stone fruit on the nose. There is certainly plenty of sweetness on the palate but with a dose of acidity to keep things lively.

Melon Panna Cotta - citrus cantaloupe panna cotta, parisian melon balls, honeydew consommé, watermelon sorbet
A delightful summer treat, the mix of melons feels airy and lush, while the panna cotta adds a bit of weight and tartness to balance out the sugary aspect of the melons.

Cheesecake - cheesecake, blueberry compote, graham cracker crumb, strawberry granita, micro basil
I thought this dessert sounded a bit gimmicky but the execution was marvelous. The various elements came together in a cohesive well-integrated whole. The heft of the cream cheese and graham cracker is balanced by the tangy sweetness of the fruit while the basil adds a subtle herbal fragrance.

Peach Trio - Ruby peach ice cream sandwiches, warm peach pie with streusel and white peach sorbet
The three peaches all carry a floral sweetness albeit with some very nuanced differences. My favorite were the tiny ice cream sandwiches thanks to the stark textural contrast of the cookies with the creamy filling. The heavy use of stonefruit made this the most cogent pairing with the wine.

Caramel "Banoffee" - banana toffee tarts, chocolate cremeaux, coffee ice cream, cocoa nib, cotti thyme
I expected to struggle with this dessert on account of the bananas, but their flavor was nicely balanced by the rest of the dessert. The bitterness of the coffee feels almost savory and certainly stands out among the toffee and banana.

Chocolate Layers - chocolate cake, passion fruit ganache layers, dark chocolate gianduja ice cream
Not the first time I've had chocolate and passion fruit and I'm certain it won't be the last. The wildly disparate flavors play off one another with their focus seemingly heightened by the contrast.

Bing Cherry Upside Down Cake - cherry upside down cake crème fraiche anglaise, cherry compote, pistachio ice cream with praline grains
The cake is moist, dense, and dripping with ripe cherry flavor while the distinct aroma of pistachio feels especially profound against the backdrop of the cake.

Sticky Toffee Pudding - sweet pudding cake, brown sugar toffee, brown butter ice cream
This is hands down the best sticky toffee pudding that I've ever had and certainly a worthy signature dessert. Sure the flavor is pretty one dimensional but the dense sticky cake is a must try for toffee-lovers.

First off, credit where credit is due, in a city with no shortage of steakhouses Gordon Ramsay Steak delivers a superb dining experience that sets it apart from most of its peers. In my experience, the contemporary steakhouse fare is second only to CUT in terms of creativity and execution. I came to this meal with low expectations, but based on the strength of this experience I'm curious to see how he does with Fat Cow and his return to Los Angeles.

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