Saturday, July 16, 2011

Le Cirque

Le Cirque VegasBrilliant colors and a playful circus atmosphere complement the bold and exquisite French cuisine at Le Cirque. Dining under the 'big top' in a sophisticated setting at this lakeside Michelin starer makes for a memorable experience indeed. This restaurant is charismatic restaurateur Sirio Maccioni's flagship creation; incidentally, Maccioni is now setting up another Le Cirque in the new Leela Palace in New Delhi. I had heard so much about this place from friends that I was afraid I was setting myself up for disappointment. Happily, that did not happen!

Le Cirque in Las VegasThe hostess quickly seated me and changed my napkin to a black one to match my trousers. As I perused the wine list, the waitstaff brought out some interesting breads. I decided to try the bacon bread which was a great choice. They also started me off on an amuse bouche of tomato gazpacho. I finally decided to try the degustation menu with wine pairing.

Bacon bread at Le Cirque
Amuse Bouche at Le CirqueMy first wine, a Burgundy that had been aged in steel (not oak) was very clean with fresh tones. The wine went very well with my excellent lobster salad wrapped in thin slices of cucumber and layered with finely chopped avocado, beans, lobster and greens. This dish is their signature appetizer and I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Signature lobster salad at Le CirqueNext came the Sauteed Foie Gras with white chocolate and raisin brioche, a nectarine compote with savoury apricot and elderberry flavors. A Gewurztraminer, another white wine from the Alsace region perfectly complemented the buttery richness of the foie gras.

Foie gras at Le CirqueThe next course, a fish dish was interesting. The sea bass was fried after being rolled up and wrapped in a very thin layer of beaten veal - what they call a paupiette in France. The fish came with braised leeks and a Pinot Noir sauce. Very nice with the Pinot Noir from Oregon. Throughout the meal, the plates on which my food were served caught my eyes because of their playful monkey motifs.

Sea Bass at Le Cirque
Tableware at Le CirqueIn preparation for my main course of lamb chops, they brought me a deep red Il Borro from Tuscany. The espelette crusted Colorado Lamb Chops was accompanied with an Italian olive panisse and spring vegetables stuffed in tomato. The espelette, a variety of French chilly peppers from the northern Basque territory added punch to the meat. The panisse, a fried cake of shredded olives was an interesting accompaniment. The lamb itself was excellent - pink in the middle like I wanted it, flavorful and full of taste in the mouth.

Lamb Chops at Le Cirque
Dessert wine at Le CirqueAs I sat back after all that food, they brought me an Austrian Kracher dessert wine. A sorbet with watermelon with a hint of basil cleansed my palate before they served me the Chocolate 'Bomb' and poured warm chocolate sauce on it with a flourish. The little 22-carat gold leaf on top made me feel like royalty before the warmth of the sauce began to melt the thin chocolate shell exposing the gooey white ice-cream inside.

Sorbet at Le Cirque
Molten Chocobomb at Le Cirque
Molten Chocobomb at Le Cirque
Petit Fours at Le CirqueAfter that fabulous dinner, I headed out to take another stroll through the casino. While Vegas has been suffering from the recent recession, you wouldn't notice - the casino and The Strip seem as crowded as ever. A new City Center with four new hotels and ample upscale shopping has come up right behind The Bellagio. But behind all the glitter and neon lights there is a lingering concern. As I headed to the airport for my flight back, my cab driver said, "they are still coming here, but spending less than they did".

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