Thursday, February 17, 2011

Vegas 5: Fleur x 2

Think this is a bad pciture? The food was worse. Hubert Keller's famous "In the Shower," which is mac and cheese with lobster. Theoretically. There may have been a few lobster chunks but it hardly looks like the dish displayed in the Vegas magazine. As I arrived at the airport on Monday afternoon, there was Hubert advertising Fleur. on the baggage claim area wall. I had made a lunch reservation here as soon as Fleur opened a few weeks previous. This was supposed to be really good. The Gruyere cheese smelled enticing. But basically it's just macaroni.

My server Faryal, surprised I didn't savour the Shower as much as other diners, made some recommendations including this gnocchi. I was initially interested in Hubert's cooking when I saw on the website for his San Francisco restaurant, "Vegetarians will be pleased to know that Chef Keller is more inspired than ever regarding his non-meat dishes." Thus far my favourite part of Fleur was the really comfortable lounge chair my feet delighted in after the long walk from my hotel. Then I have a gnocchi. It's dreamingly good. As good as my seafood courses at the other restaurants, which were as good as food can be. So this Keller really CAN cook! I'm elated. And it's so simple. Reminds me of what Jean-George Vongerichten said to David Chang on sampling Chang's Heirloom tomato/Tofu/Shiso dish: Why didn't I think of this!

In continued chat with my server who observes I'm not yet full, we discuss other vegetarian options and she suggests the onion soup with truffle oil. I'm encountering so many truffles in this eatathon I fear a sort of Stendahl Syndrome of the taste buds. Doesn't mean I'm going to turn them down however. There seems to be a process involved, pouring from the pitcher into the little cup. "Not your traditional onion soup<" says the server, quite accurately. It's wonderful. The Mandalay Bay Hotel, where Fleur is located, also has an aquarium. I plan to return tomorrow and see it as well as trying the Flight of Fruity Cocktails on the menu and see if the gnocchi is as good as it tastes today.

The aquarium is interesting but it's not really a good idea to visit an aquarium before going to eat some fish. While contemplating my trio of tasty cocktails, I order the gnocchi again and a fish dish with shitake and soy ginger foam. Should be an interesting pairing, but I'm on a roll (as they'd say in Vegas) with great cocktails after the wondrous drinks at Mix and Twist did their magic with the sublime food.
The green drink is called Sumo. As someone who used to follow the sport when I lived in Japan in the 80s, I tell my server, a different woman this time named Mariso, that Sumo is usually associated with beer drinking in Japan. Maybe things have changed since then. This Sumo is wonderfully floral (in a restaurant called Fleur, that's a good idea). I have to search around on my palate to find the yuzu, but There It Is, Yes, as an aftertaste. Moriso tells me it's the newest cocktail. It goes superbly with the gnocchi, as does a glass of ice water. The gnocchi is just as good as it was yesterday. My second tiny cocktail reeks of peach. And I love fresh peaches. I love peach flavoured tea and when I used to eat pies, peach was my favourite. But a good peach cocktail is a revelation to me. I try it with a gnocchi as well as my mushroom foamed fish and both are exquisite. The braised hamachi joins the gnocchi as well as the fish feasts at Mix, Twist and Guy Savoy at the peak of culinary possibility. I then try a sip of the Fleurtini with the hamachi. Nope. The fleurtini strives for but doesn't achieve symbiosis with the fish. I think its sweetness, which isn't at all overpowering, clashes too much with pickeled shitake and soy ginger foam. I was expecting more sour apple in the drink. My first meal in Vegas, on Monday afternoon was that vast salad with the delightful granny smith slices so I was looking forward to more sour apple goodness. That meal also included a superb mimosa made with their home made lemonade, an ade so tasty it gave home a good name. So I knew there were good drinks to be had in this city. And the food quality just doesn't stop. Back to the Fleurtini: the pomegranate just doesn't come through as much as the peach or yuzu in the other two drinks. My tiny cocktails are now completed so I order a large passion fruit drink. I want to compare it with the Tuesday night's perfect passion fruit drink at Twist. About the only thing they have in common: they both contain alcohol. This drink, the Passion Pisco, just tastes like booze. If Hunter Thompson were here, I'd offer it to him. Mariso suggests the Caesar Salad which I'm sure is just as deconstructed as the onion soup but I have a big dinner coming up in 3 hours. Instead, I opt for coffee as theatre. An Affogatto, usually just for dinner guests but Moriso offers to make one for me. Fun with liquid nitrogen. Best show in Vegas.


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