Grissini with Olive and Anchovy Puree
Country Bread, Olive Focaccia and Wheat Crisps with Olive Oil
Chilled Cantaloupe and Watermelon Soup with Thai Chili
Marinated Seabass with Red Onion, Pomello and Pimento Pepper
Octopus Salad with Garbonzo Beans, Green Onion, Confit Sweet Bell Pepper, Emulsified Hummus
Provencal Caponata with Eggplant, Tomato, Olive and Pine Nuts
Lobster Risotto in Shellfish Cream
Bombardoni Pasta with Braised Short Rib, Red Wine Reduction
John Dory with Calamari, Prawn, Clams and Bouillabaisse Broth
Pacific Wild Halibut with Zucchini, Green and White Asparagus
Ratatouille Cookpot with Peppers, Zucchini, Summer Squash and Garlic
Angus Beef Rossini with Foie Gras and Black Truffle Sauce
Sweet Corn Our Way with Cream, Zucchini and Red Peppers
Peach Melba with Peach Ice Cream, Red Currant Compote, Lime and Verbena Jelly
Citrus Cup with Orange Marmalade, Candied Lemon, Campari Granite
Limoncello Baba with Chantilly Cream
Flourless Chocolate Souffle with Vanilla Ice Cream
Opened in October 2015 as a rebrand of culinary giant Alain Ducasse’s miX, a meal early in its inception showing the food to be half-hearted and undersized while servers exuberantly looked for the upsell, it was with recent positive words from a trusted source that a reservation for two was booked on Friday night, Chef Bruno Riou having now dialed in the Mediterranean flavors while the room remains one of the very best ways to take in the Las Vegas sunset.
Located high above The Delano, the Skyfall Lounge next door as popular as ever with tourists even though searing hot temperatures kept the patio closed until several hours after dark, it was by way of the externally facing glass elevator guests entered the space only to have to pass by the kitchen and chandelier of bubbles en route to the hostess stand, a reservation confirmed and seats at one of the tables looking straight out onto the city a comfortable place to spend nearly three hours in repast.
Busy for Bastille Day, though the style of French served at Rivea is hardly the braised Meats and rich Sauces typically thought by most as typifying the country’s cuisine, it was shortly after sitting down that a glass of Champagne was presented along with the restaurant’s Grissini and Olive-Anchovy Tapenade, a trio of Breads served with Olive Oil not far behind alongside a nightly amuse of Watermelon Gazpacho poured tableside over chilled Cantaloupe with a subtle bit of heat.
Remaining one of Las Vegas’ most breezy dining rooms, the seaside blues and high ceilings further opening up a contiguous space that sees the Valley spread in all directions through glass, Rivea’s current “Tour de la Riviera” tasting soon continued by way of a trio of plates including Seabass Crudo with Citrus and Pimento Pepper alongside chunky Eggplant Caponata and Chickpea Fries plus an added plate of tender Octopus served with crispy Garbanzo Beans and aerated Hummus, the flavors all bright and fresh though the Panisse would have benefitted from a dipping Sauce or something to help give it an identity outside of the Salt atop its crunchy coating.
Moving next into a Pasta duo, each served family-style with the Risotto perfectly cooked in Shellfish Stock and a small bit of Butter-poached Lobster at its center, Chef Riou showed a skilled hand by way of the al dente tubes served in Sauce Bordelaise, the Short Rib fork-tender with a great depth of flavor and roasted Tomatoes adding just enough acid to keep the beautifully executed sauce from being too rich at such an early point in the evening.
Serving relatively small portions of each plate as part of the tasting, slightly larger presentations available a la carte as noted at surrounding tables, course three of the tasting was titled “Fish” and although those averse to flavors of the sea may wish to think twice about John Dory served a la briny Bouillabaisse the dish is true to its description with a jumbo Prawn served amidst Calamari and Clams plus buttered Toast while the Wild Halibut sings of Summer with a lightly saline Foam, two types of Asparagus and slices of Zucchini.
Requesting one of Ducasse’s signature Cookpots as well as a side of Creamed Corn with Peppers be added, the former served in the style of Ratatouille along with the Fish while the latter came as a side to a medium-rare Filet of Prime Beef with Foie Gras and Australian Black Truffle Sauce, those expecting a French Classic on Bastille Day would not be let down by Angus so tender that it could have been cut with a butter knife, the Duck Liver caramelized on the surface and creamy within while the Mashed Potatoes and gently warmed Endive were just enough to refresh the palate between bites.
Taking Coffee along with Dessert, two seasonal additions presented along with a pair of classics, suffice it to say that the Citrus Cup rang true to its name with mouth-puckering combination of Rind and Marmalade that ate somewhat like a Pudding, the flavors too intense for one at the table while the Peach Melba offered a more mild flavor, Chef Ducasse’s famous Baba just as wonderful with Italy’s famous Lemon Liqueur as it is with Rum while the Chocolate Souffle proves worth the 18-minute preparation time thanks to a good rise and soft center that becomes a warm Pudding with the addition of Vanilla Ice Cream.
FOUR STARS: Without a doubt the lightest flavors of Sin City’s four French Masters, the price-point on par with Twist and quite a bit lower than Savoy or Robuchon, Rivea seems to have found its stride as year three approaches, the food matching the room and Chef Riou executing every plate expertly while the staff manages a balance of personality and professionalism that many guests who fear French Restaurants as ‘snooty’ will be comfortable with.
RECOMMENDED: Provencal Caponata, Octopus Salad, Bombardoni Pasta, Seasonal Cookpot, Chocolate Souffle, Limoncello Baba.
AVOID: Panisse Frites are fine but need a bit more to justify the pricepoint, Citrus Cup needs something like whipped cream that can be added on a per-bite bases to help offset the bitterness.
TIP: Offering Dinner from 6pm daily Rivea is best accessed by way of Elevators of the Delano Lobby, though those wishing to partake in the view from Skyfall are encouraged to take the elevator located just outside Michael Jackson ONE by Cirque du Soleil.
WHAT THE STARS MEAN: 5 World Class, 4 Excellent, 3 Good, 2 Fair, 1 Poor.