Vegas 2016: The superbowl strikes out
Several days before my flight to Vegas, I was filled with happiness, just knowing I’d soon be in Vegas. Eating great food at Le Cirque. Having amazing cocktails at Vesper and that great pear-jasmine mocktail at the Mandarin Tea Room. Meeting friends. The day before my flight, I begin to fill with dread about the imminent trip. What was I sensing?
For the first time ever, I had to take a cab from my house to the sea bus, then the skytrain to the airport. Then, my flight wasn’t down to Vegas, but over to Victoria, where I caught another flight. Apparently there was some football thing happening in Frisco. Now, Frisco is a long way from Vegas. My flight was supposed to arrive in Vegas at 6:15, but it was near 7 by the time we actually touched down at McCarran. The military had restricted flight over northern Nevada because of the game. Maybe all the UFOs at area 51 were betting on it. So it was getting on and I had a 9:30 reservation at Le Cirque. I’ve always taken the shuttle, this time, in a hurry, I took a cab. $22.00 one way instead of $13.00 round trip. I dreaded how long check-in would take, but thanks to the football game, most people were in the hotel bars watching it, not at the desk. I got into my room, changed into my formal clothes, and made it to the Bellagio in time. In plenty of time. Maybe the game had slowed time itself. I had time to stop by the Petrossian Bar. I had been here last year for the Bellagio cocktail, a tasty drink made from passion fruit puree, Alize red and Rotari sparkling wine.
Although it was as good as last year’s, the infusion wasn’t. Last year’s infusion was the best drink I had in Vegas, outside of the usual wonders at Vesper. I talked to the bartender about it, telling him how I’d been trying to make this infusion at home. He told me to use frozen blueberries (we have some in the freezer) and fresh strawberries, not raspberries. OK, but maybe as I like raspberries A LOT more than I like strawberries, this one wasn’t as good.
Anyway, he talked about his pal Tony Abou-Ganim who started the bar with him 20 years and created these two drinks. When I told him about the upcoming cocktail event, he said he would be one of the judges and would see me there. The Ivys rightly praised the nuts offered at the Petrossian Bar. I had brought half a dozen baby bells and half a zip-lock bag full of trail mix with dried apricots and cranberries with me. I’d had a ham and cheese croissant at the airport this morning, so I was Hungry (as much as that term ever really applies to me.)
I made it to Le Cirque in time for my reservation. A young woman greets me and tells me she’s new and wants to meet the Le Cirque regulars. My 4th time and I’m a regular? They have always made me feel at home here, a great way to begin this trip. The woman seems too young to be in an establishment that serves alcohol, but I’m soon brought a tasty drink. The Le Cirque Passion Fruit cocktail, much stronger than next door at the Petrossian Bar. The power is in the peach flavour. This comes in handy when the fois gras course comes around. First however, a fine blue crab appetizer. I don’t remember anything about it, except that it was good. Next up, the fois with apples and Calvados. I’m planning a trip to Calvados-land so this should be good prep. Well…. Apples are a favourite fruit, but there is a Strong aftertaste and it ain’t apple. Here the power of the PEACHpassionfruit drink is really appreciated.I've only had good fois gras dishes twice, both in Vancouver by competing French chefs Daniel Beloud (candied fruit in a fois mousse at Lumiere when Daniel was briefly its owner) and Jean George Vongerichten (candied cherries overwhelming the fois at his Market restaurant, where the menu never changes). This dish was not in that league.
Kind of a disappointing feast at Le Cirque. Although vast quantities of food was served, the fish that so delighted me last time was kind of pedestrian this time, although, with the basil leaf embedded, just like the leaf embedded in the langoustine fritters at L’Atelier (but without its marvelous flavour), and then the pairing with a white burgundy (I said I wanted a white with the fish, instead of the reds they had relentlessly poured for me with my previous fish orders here) the sommelier of the day had provided- suddenly it sorta worked. It went from pedestrian to okay, particularly with the crispiness of the papered sea bass. I called the photo Sea Bad.
My expectations of this dish were so high, I left Le Cirque disappointed. Did I get what I came for, what I paid for? Not really. I considerably overtip.
As I’m leaving (it’s almost 11), the “I can’t believe you’re not a minor” woman chases after me, with a little box of sweets to take home. “You’re very good at what you do,” I tell her. She is as stunned as if I’d told her she’d just won the billion dollar lottery. Well, we have to encourage the young if we want them to become the decent old, and live in a decent world.