Refined French dining isn’t typically part of my repertoire, but only an idiot would pass up the opportunity to try Guy Savoy’s food on the house. Savoy may have already cemented his place on France’s gastronomic Mt. Rushmore, but it took opening in Las Vegas to enhance his Stateside name recognition. Based on my experience with his “Bubbles & Bites” menu, it’s clear that a lot of his praise was warranted.
We sat in the contemporary bar, where Guy’s charismatic son Franck greeted us. Typically, Small Bites cost $10 apiece, which is a relatively affordable way to sample such exacting cuisine.
We dined under the gaze of a mounted polar bear head made from matchsticks, which hangs on the wall above an ultramodern fireplace. Designer Jean-Michel Wilmotte did a terrific job of avoiding stuffy haute clichés by delivering a modern space with clean lines and a dining room with stunning views of the Strip.
The sommelier rolled out a cart with a gigantic ice bucket of Champagne up top and a shelf of premium whiskey down below. Glasses ranged from $29 to $65 per glass. My first choice: Bollinger, Grand Année, Aÿ, Brut 1999 ($55), a dry but satisfying option with tight bubbles.
The sommelier also clarified a Champagne question, saying that vintage Champagne is designed to showcase the year, and NV Champagnes are designed to spotlight “the house.”
To start, we each received a toothpick speared with alternating layers of country bread and foie gras, seasoned with sea salt and black truffle vinaigrette. It was an excellent amuse that kept me wanting more.
Mosaic of Poularde, Foie Gras and Celery Root, Black Truffle Jus ($30) was a firm and boldly flavored slab, served with salt and pepper and country bread.
A server rolled out a staggering bread cart with options like 21 multi-grain, chestnut ciabatta, seven varieties of Japanese seaweed, caramelized onion, lemon bread, black olive, juniper with rosemary, Parmigiano Reggiano, house-cured bacon with sea salt and a “spice bread” containing Szechuan pepper, black pepper, fennel, coriander and two kinds of mustard.
Bacon and sea salt bread was an easy choice, brushed with bacon fat and filled with a treasure trove of chewy bacon bits. Three-mustard bread was less exciting in relative terms, but still compelling, basically a spiced ciabatta.
A delicate sea bass fillet featured crispy scales and was plated with a foam of fish stock, vanilla, ginger and the same spices found in the spice bread: Szechuan pepper, black pepper, fennel, coriander and two kinds of mustard.
Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup ($28) is a signature Savoy dish, pure artichoke puree shaved with black truffle and Parmigiano, served with mushroom brioche slathered with truffle butter. The mushroom brioche was mind blowingly flaky and boldly flavored. We were encouraged to dip the pastry in the soup, an incredible combination.
My second glass of Champagne was a floral rosé: Bruno Paillard, Rosé, Reims, Brut MV ($49).
Our waiter presented a carving board holding twin Poussins, bundled herbs and pots of salt and pepper. This was all part of Guy Savoy’s formal (and dramatic) presentation. He returned the birds to the kitchen for carving.
Poussin – Poché-Rôtie ($35) was cooked on a rotisserie with black truffle under the skin until stunningly juicy inside and crisp outside. The bird was plated with black trumpet and yellowfoot mushrooms, plus perfect steamed carrots that were almost impossibly sweet and juicy. On the side, we each received two dollops of black truffle-flecked potato puree.
Later, Executive Chef Eric Bost revealed that he sources the young chickens from Four Story Hill Farm in Pennsylvania and prefers birds that are 14 to 21 days old. This was further proof that baby animals are more delicious.
We each received different Sweet Bites – The Little Pots of the Day ($10). My coconut dessert involved a range of preparations and textures, including coconut granita, fresh coconut, coconut milk, a coconut cookie and crunchy bits.
Near the exit, Guy Savoy keeps a jar of Chartreuse candies, which were a nice touch.
At those prices, it would have been a major splurge, had we been paying. Would it have been worth it? Probably for a special occasion, since the mosaic, poussin and soup were all staggeringly good, and just seeing the bread cart roll up to the table will leave a lasting memory. The service and attention to detail were also unsurpassable.
Note: This meal was part of a media trip hosted by Caesars Palace for Los Angeles food writers.