A dedicated wine room overlooks the main dining area at the contemporary French gem, Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay Las Vegas. (All photos and content property of www.royallyflushed.com)
In honor of this week’s episode of “Top Chef Masters” on Bravo TV, we give you our review of chef/competitor Hubert Keller’s splendid Fleur de Lys at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas. (Warning: gushing ahead!)
This last trip to Las Vegas was memorable for a number of reasons not the least of which was not only did we enjoy a superb dinner at contemporary French restaurant, Fleur de Lys, but also because we had the unique opportunity to meet the chef. (We have been fans of Chef Hubert Keller’s food for years after having dined at his original San Francisco outpost several times over the years so meeting him was a real treat.)
But, more on that later: first, we’ll highlight the food and atmosphere of Fleur De Lys at Mandalay Bay. (By the way, we used one of our fav dining discounts – a $25 certificate (our cost $5) from Restaurant.com toward our check. See details at the end of the post.)
The space: This is a romantic Las Vegas restaurant perfect for couples and it seems especially designed for those celebrating special occasions. In addition to the low-lighting, lush smoky velvet drapes, widely-spaced tables and hushed atmosphere, the compact space somehow fits in several private, curtained tables for the ultimate in cozy dining. Although compact in floor-space, the room is easily two or more stories high and features a second-floor wine room overlooking the main dining area. (The night of our visit, a private table for two was in use in the glass-fronted, candle-lit space so you may be able to book a table there in advance.)
The focal point of the room is a huge leaf-shaped wall sculpture made entirely of hundreds of fresh peachy-pink rosebuds. When we remarked on it, our server shared that a local floral company came in daily to replace any spent blossoms.
The food: For a chef who has been re-interpreting French classics for decades, Chef Keller’s dishes are as fresh and imaginative as they were twenty years ago. While looking over the inventive wine list – a menu of specialty cocktails is also available – the kitchen sent out an amuse bouche of a tiny bite of cod paired with a creamy smidge of warm potato salad and a spicy aioli sauce.
Tender monkfish, clams and mussels served atop flavorful barley is a winning entree.
Having settled on a bottle of the Duckhorn Vineyards Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($75,) we indulged in the chewy pretzel bread while deciding on the night’s meal. We began the meal by splitting a light salad of organic greens and heirloom tomatoes in a perky herb vinaigrette.
For entrees, we chose the citrus-glazed monkfish ($43) with clams, mussels and chorizo sausage and the “gently heated” Alaskan King salmon filet ($39.) The generous monkfish plate was a riot of color, flavors and textures with the lobster-like sweetness and meatiness of the fish playing off the briny taste of petite mussels and clams and all set off by a risotto-like side of creamy barley festooned with bits of oven-roasted tomatoes, baby broccoli florets and a smoky dice of chorizo.
Though simpler in presentation and number of ingredients, the Alaskan King salmon filet was a master’s example of how to treat a scrumptious piece of fresh fish. Oven-roasted at just 200 degrees, the fish emerges from cooking with a silky, melt-in-your-mouth tenderness and clean, smooth flavor. The accompanying julienne of beets and surprisingly mellow apple rosemary puree and horseradish chive bouillon served to accent rather than overwhelm the pearly filets. We would most definitely order both dishes should they be on the menu on our next trip.
Even though both entrees were more than generous, we specifically went light on the first course so that we could indulge in something sweet post-entrees. While chocolate and Grand Marnier soufflés are available (order early in the evening to ensure ample time for prep) and we saw several tables sharing the airy confections, we chose the appealing carrot cake ice cream sandwich ($12) and finished every bite. Luscious cream cheese-flavored ice cream was fitted between two slabs of moist carrot cake, the whole sprinkled with candied walnuts and served with a decadent scoop of pineapple coconut ice cream.
The service: Excellent service with attentive yet non-intrusive servers.
Back to meeting the chef: While we were sipping our wine and relaxing before the first course, out from behind the long velvet drapes that line the front of the restaurant, pops Chef Keller himself – sort of like a culinary Wizard of Oz. It was so cool to see him in Las Vegas and according to our server, he visits Mandalay Bay for at least one week each month. Table to table he went, greeting diners and making small talk. Once he reached our table we couldn’t help but ask about his “Top Chef Masters’” experience (he enjoyed it immensely) and compliment him on the many dinners we’ve enjoyed throughout the years at his restaurants. (For a “foodie” like me, meeting Chef Keller is like coming face-to-face with a rock star you’ve listened to for years!)
More reviews at urbanspoon.
More info: Save money while dining at some of the best spots in Las Vegas! Save 80% Off w/every $25 Gift Cert. order. Use code PORTION. Pay $2 thru 8/13/09 at Restaurant.com.
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