Tom Collins and a Gin-Lemon-Seven
Butter Rose, White Roll, Cheese Lavosh, Whole Grain Roll
Escargot en Croute – Six plump escargots sautéed in shallots, garlic, burgundy wine, fine herbs with a puff pastry topping
Tableside Salad – Romaine, Tomato, Hearts of Palm, Artichokes, Mushrooms, Blue Cheese, Croutons, Pine Nuts, Hardboiled Egg, Bay Shrimp with Creamy Pepper Dressing
Stuffed Jumbo Shrimp – Jumbo shrimp stuffed with crab, parsley, savory and ‘old bay’ seasoned bread crumbs
Duckling Anise Flambé – Duck roasted with licorice spices and herbs; flambéed table-side
Beef Wellington – Filet of beef, topped with a duxelle of foie gras and mushrooms; baked in pastry and served with bordelaise sauce
White and dark chocolate dipped strawberries, apricots and baby figs with whipped cream
Located in The Four Queens on Fremont and considered by many to be the best “Old Vegas” experience remaining in a city once rife with dens of a similar ilk Hugo’s Cellar had always been on my proverbial ‘to-do’ list and despite the constant onslaught of new spots from celebrity chefs on the Strip a Sunday night visit found the venerable institution packed – the ‘reservations recommended’ sign proving justified as couples attempting to walk-in met a two hour wait. Dimly lit with stone walls, wood beams, heavy linens, and art-glass chandeliers overhead it was to formal greetings and a rose for the ladies that we arrived in the Cellar and whisked away soon to a booth in one of several rooms the action soon commenced, each waiter presented by name as a trio of warm breads with a butter rose plus the famous tableside salad engaged the senses – the later a true crowd pleaser carefully customized for each and every guest. Large in menu with a bar that promised to craft “anything you like” it was with a stiff pair of $7 cocktails that our proper order progressed and soon plucking tender snails under delicate pastry from their dish one really couldn’t help but smile at a classic done so well, a theme continued with each of three superlative entrees following a raspberry palate cleanse – the tableside whole duckling a showstopper gathering looks from around the room while the Wellington rivaled that at Ramsay Steak beneath a pile of mushrooms and foie gras. Truly a class act it was prior to desserts-proper that a trio of chocolate dipped fruits arrived to be dressed in hand-whipped cream and with more sweets offered on the house to celebrate a duo of birthdays it was tableside we turned again – the smolder and burn of booze, fresh fruit, and cinnamon ladled over rich ice cream a refined finish to a true ‘experience.’
FOUR STARS: Served with appropriate pomp and pageantry Hugo’s Cellar is simply the sort of restaurant one just doesn’t see often enough these days, a testament to ‘dining’ as opposed to just eating. Serious food from a place that does not take itself too seriously to have fun a meal here is certainly not cheap but with all the smile inducing extras there was not a person in the room who seemed less than thrilled to be there in celebration with friends and family.
RECOMMENDED: Cheese Lavosh, Escargot, Tableside Duck, Beef Wellington, Cherries Jubilee.
AVOID: Wild rice was undercooked and a bit starchy, green asparagus was still a bit woody.
TIP: Lighter appetites should avoid Filling up on the breads and salad, no matter how good, as portion sizes are quite large and preparations do not skimp on butter or cream. Additionally, fully validated parking is offered at the Four Queens cage for those arriving by car.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor