Fleur de Lys. A Chef’s tasting.
I should learn to be less trusting.
I’ve already learned the hard way not to trust them when they say, “Trust me, I’m a lawyer.” And that’s coming from an ex-lawyer, so you can trust me.
I am inclined to believe “Trust me, I’m a doctor,” and even “Trust me, I’m a Michelin starred chef.”
But I’m starting to question “Trust me, I’m the executive chef at a celebrity chef’s Las Vegas outpost.”
You see, the Chef’s Tasting menu at Fleur de Lys is not listed. You tell them if you have any allergies or if there’s anything you don’t eat. Besides that, you’re in the chef’s hands. In this case, Executive Chef Steve Wolf.
Now, here’s the thing. I’m not really sure if the ever changing chef’s menu is really Chef Hubert Keller’s menu, Chef Wolf’s menu, or Chef Wolf channeling Chef Keller’s menu. So I’m not really sure where to lay the blame for a meal that was, well, hit and miss. Don’t get me wrong, there were some outstanding dishes. But there were also some dishes that missed the mark enough to make me question if they were coming from the same chef.
Photo courtesy of Stuck in Customs on Flickr
Let’s start with the positives. The restaurant is absolutely beautiful. A towering space with walls of stacked stone, heavy floor to ceiling dark curtains, an imposing second floor wine cellar behind glass, and an “eye” of orange roses watching over a dining room of white tablecloths and brown leather banquettes and chairs. It’s masculine and luxurious and opulent.
The service is also top notch, finding that balance between attentiveness and unobtrusiveness.
And the menu had some high points. Some very high points. But the lows brought it back down to earth.
We started with an amuse of dungeness crab and avocado sphere in a watermelon gazpacho. If the amuse was to capture the essence of the meal, I would have been very happy. It was delicious, tart and refreshing. It held out the promise of a great meal.
We moved on to the 1st course of ahi tuna tartare over a shaved fennel slaw in ginger ponzu, topped with a fennel seed tuile. An ahi tuna tartare seemed like a safe, if uninspired choice, to start the meal. I’ve had many, as I’m sure you have, and this one was good without being remarkable. The fennel slaw beneath it was a nice touch, giving it some textural difference but the ginger ponzu sauce was overpoweringly sour.
Next up was the truffled onion soup with a braised duck ragout and shaved black truffles. The braised duck ragout was served in a small rolled crepe in the middle of the dish, with the soup poured around it. This dish was the highlight of the meal. The onion soup was sweet and rich, with the taste of the truffles coming on in the end notes. The truffles were more pronounced in the crepe itself. I’m not sure if any seafood stock was used in the soup but it tasted remarkably like a lobster bisque.
Third course was veal and Yukon Gold potato ravioli with a sunchoke foam and English peas. The potato ravioli were very soft and tender and the veal jus lent a concentrated meaty flavor to the dish. Another good dish.
The next course was hamachi with a ginger aromatic foam and tempura scallions. My first and lasting impression was that the ginger foam was salty. So salty that the hamachi tasted like a meat dish. This is one of the dishes that really threw me with the heavy handedness of the seasoning.
The final meat course was the Colorado rack of lamb with charred corn cous cous, mango chutney and a carrot curry sauce. The lamb was on the rare side of medium rare, just how I like it, but again the sauce was a salt lick. Salty to the point of obliterating the other tastes. The addition of curry introduced an odd flavor profile into the meal. I can’t say it tasted like an Indian curry, for one, and, secondly, it just seemed incongruous with the rest of the tasting menu. If I didn’t know better, I’d have wondered if that plate had come from the same kitchen or even restaurant. To be fair, our waiter did offer to have the chef prepare another dish for us more to our liking but, at this stage, we were approaching fullness and opted to move onto dessert.
The intermezzo was a passion fruit and coconut sorbet on a streusel crust in a coconut soup with tapioca balls, strawberry, kiwi and plantain. I loved the coconut soup with tapioca balls. Just like an upscale boba and a perfect palate cleanser after the two salt bombs. The sorbet was also very good. This course set the meal back on track.
Dessert was sauterne marinated pears on a cinnamon crust and cinnamon ice cream with a walnut sesame crisp. The ice cream was good but the highlight was the cinnamon crust the dessert sat on. Delicious. The kitchen also sent out two glasses of complimentary sauterne to pair with the dessert to make up for the lamb dish. A nice gesture and a nice way to end the meal.
Finally, a small tray of lemony madeleines with a chocolate dipping sauce.
And an autographed copy of Hubert Keller’s book “Burger Bar”, a rose from the aforementioned “eye” and personalized menus of the night’s meal. A nice touch even if a couple of the courses on the menu were not what we had received.
So there you have it. A meal, on the one hand, that exercised some restraint in bold flavors and two dishes that exhibited a heavy handedness in their seasoning and discordant flavor profiles.
But who am I to judge?
Just trust me. I’m a food blogger.
3950 Las Vegas Blvd
Las Vegas, NV 89119 (702) 632-7777