Le Framboise – Raspberry Puree, Grand Cuvee Champagne
Golden Osetra Caviar – Salmon Rillette, Vodka Crème Fraiche, Chives
Fall Salad – Artichoke, Avocado, Jamon Iberco, White Truffle, Foie Gras Snow
Bacon Cheddar, Rosemary, Sourdough, Pretzel, White Chocolate Walnut, Salted Butter
Potato Gnocchi – White Truffle, White Truffle Cream
Mint – Rock Sugar, Club Soda, Cucumber
Scallop – Potato and Apple “risotto,” White Truffles, Potato Chip, Lobster Puree, White Chocolate Sauce
Rabbit – Saddle wrapped in prosciutto, offal ravioli, confit loin, Riesling sauce, crispy spatzle
Canard a L’Orange – Caramelized Endive, Fava Bean Puree, Maitake Mushroom, Foie Gras, Duck Confit, Potato Gnocchi Pot-Au-Feu
Tomme de Chevre, Epoisses, Roquefort – Accoutrements
Delice de Framboise – Raspberry Milk Shake, Light Mascarpone Crème, Crunch of Feuilletine, Champagne Foam
Petite Boule de Chocolat – Chocolate Ball, Praline Mousse, White Chocolate Ice Cream, Hazelnut Caramel Crunch, Chocolate Sauce
Strawberry Souffle – Strawberry Cream, Strawberry Sorbet
Having last visited Le Cirque as an inexperienced intern on vacation in Las Vegas it was finally the invite of a friend that brought me back to The Bellagio’s hidden gem and bellied up to the bar with nearly the same service team in place that wowed me six years prior I can only lament the mediocre meals I’ve eaten elsewhere in between…and promise that my next visit will be far less delayed. Admittedly unable to fairly assess the ‘experience’ under the circumstances in which I dined – carte blanche, truffe blanche, vin blanche, gratuit – but instead opting to focus on the skills of 28 year old chef Wilfred Bergerhausen and what he placed on our plates it was with a glass of the restaurant’s signature cocktail of raspberry puree and brut bubbles that the evening began and although perhaps an ‘expected’ pairing I’d be hard pressed to name a better amuse than the briny eggs over creamy salmon that chives that arrived next, each of four bites slowly savored from the only utensil fit for such a job. Asking for a mix of the new chef’s plates to be served alongside longstanding classics both the salad and pasta courses showed Le Cirque’s dedication to quality of sourcing and although the modernist-kiss of shaved torchon atop a texturally compelling salad proved a brilliant carrier for the early season truffles it was the follow-up plate that quickly stole the show – a mountain of Tuber magnatum the only thing holding down dumplings so light that they threatened to float off the plate. At this point abandoning any attempt to stay my hand from further trips to a bread plate that rivals the city’s best it was a tender scallop over fall-fruit ‘risotto’ that arrived and liberally ladled with white chocolate sauce the flavors popped, even the scallop-skeptic in the group relishing the experience as I mopped the terrine clean with warm white chocolate and walnut bread. Transitioning here to heartier flavors it was to a stack of rabbit saddle, confit, and offal ravioli that we were treated and with a finishing touch of crispy spatzle the longtime classic was reborn, the grand finale of duck a l’orange equally timeless with novel twists finding it stuffed in lavender and rosemary while a small bowl of duck consommé featured slowly melting slices of foie gras, the semi-sweet red served at its side a brilliant pairing with light acid and smoke lingering on the end. Bridging savory to sweet with a trio of aged cheeses, more bread, and fruit puree I’d have gladly eaten by the spoon it was in a trio of desserts and a tower of mignardise that the meal ended and although both the chocolate sphere and champagne parfait were lovely, neither could hold a candle to the soufflé – a classic soon to be remastered under the talents of a new pastry chef by month’s end, and a reason in and of itself to warrant an expedited return.
UNABLE TO RATE: Despite several offers to pay the bill we were refused at all turns but lumping together a pile of cash to at least compensate the remarkable service I’m confident to say that at this very moment Le Cirque’s kitchen is executing on the level of most Michelin 2* restaurants I’ve been to in Europe or The United States, a statement I reserve for less than a handful of restaurants in Las Vegas and one that becomes even more impressive when you look at the price point – the tasting menu under $150 with service from a team that has largely been in place since the restaurant opened its doors 16 years ago.
RECOMMENDED: Canard a l’orange, rabbit, soufflé, gnocchi.
AVOID: Unless you possess substantial eating prowess or have far more willpower than I, shoo the bread man away immediately without even taking a taste…otherwise be prepared to find yourself asking for seconds…and thirds…maybe fourths.
TIP: Odd as it may seem, sitting at the bar was one of the most enjoyable aspects of a meal that lacked in no way for great moments – the small size allowing for all sorts of chat with the bartender as well as extensive interaction with other patrons, the majority well-cultured epicures with extensive travel resumes and stories of great meals around the world to be shared.