Guy Savoy established this outpost in Las Vegas in 2008. It is tucked away in a quiet corner of the vast Caesars Palace hotel, on what is labelled the mezzanine level but is actually several flights of stairs (or a lift) up from ground level. The dining room has a very high ceiling and looks out over the Flamingo hotel opposite, the oldest hotel on the Las Vegas strip. The room is carpeted, tables large and well spaced and there is no music playing, so it offers a relative haven of tranquility from the bustle of Sin City. The room has two sections plus a private dining room, seating 90 or so guests at any one time. The chef is Matthieu Chartron, who worked in Guy Savoy in Paris for two years before moving here and progressing to the position of head chef. The head chef at the beginning here was Damien Dulas, who moved back to France within a year of the restaurant opening. Ingredients are supplied mostly from the USA, with vegetables coming from nearby California. However fish such as red mullet and turbot is actually imported, at considerable expense, fresh (not frozen) directly by plane from France via New York.
As I sat down a series of nibbles appeared in quick succession. Foie gras with sea salt and truffle vinaigrette on a little skewer had silky texture and good liver flavour (17/20), a Parmesan waffle was suitable cheesy (16/20) and best of all was a little miniature burger on a skewer, with a Parmesan bun, excellent beef and a little mustard (strong 17/20). There were two tasting menus, one at $260 (£155) and a longer one at $350, as well as a la carte choices. Starters ranged from $60-90, main courses $80-110, desserts $30.
The weighty wine list had 2,000 separate labels, with well over 10,000 bottles stored on site. The list was heavily French oriented but had a reasonable global selection too. Example wines were Schlumberger Prince Abbes Pinot Gris 2000 at $51 for a wine that you can find in a shop for around $22, Colonial Estate Emigre Cabernet Sauvignon 2002 at $185 for a wine that retails at around $85 and Clos St Hune 2000 at $360 for a wine that will set you back about $245 in a shop. Mark-ups varied sharply throughout the list, so alongside Vina Cobos Bramare Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 at $90 for a wine with a retail price of slightly more than that, there was a trap for successful but unwary gamblers in the form of Chateau Palmer 1949 at an absurd $12,500 for a wine than has a retail price of barely $3,000.
Cucumber velouté was the final amuse-bouche, served cold in a little dish that when lifted revealed a further nibble of salmon on a delicate crisp (151/20). An impressive bread chariot is wheeled around the room, with a vast selection of breads custom-made for the restaurant. There were three kinds of ciabatta, country bread, baguette, lemon bread, basil bread, the list went on. Bacon rolls, olive bread and Parmesan rolls were all excellent (17/20). A "mosaic" of milk-fed chicken breast with artichoke and foie gras terrine came with a black truffle jus, served with a little slice of country bread. This was enjoyable, the chicken itself having good rather than dazzling flavour, but the truffle jus was suitably luxurious (16/20).
A dish of various textures of peas from California was topped with a poached egg, the peas raw, as a jelly and as a cold purée being pleasant but again lacking the depth of flavour that you would find in peas from the markets of the Mediterranean or Paris (16/20). This is a classic Guy Savoy dish, but the flavours here were rather muted.
Quail was from Texas, sautéed and served with trompette mushrooms, spinach purée infused in brown butter, hazelnuts, pasta stuffed with chicken mousseline and foie gras, all surrounded by a quail jus. The quail was nicely cooked, the garnishes good, and part way through a separate plate was brought with the quail legs that had been grilled over mesquite, serviced with an exotically named mesclun salad of mixed leaves; mesclun just means mixed, but presumably this sounds more exotic from a marketing perspective (17/20 overall for the quail).
A pre-dessert of sesame seed panna cotta on pomegranate seeds was harmless enough (15/20). Strawberries from California were prettily presented, served on pastry cream alongside nougatine chips, strawberry sorbet and strawberry coulis. This was enjoyable and the elements skilfully made, but again the strawberries did not compare in flavour with those that you find in the Mediterranean (16/20). At this point a dessert chariot was wheeled out, groaning with mignardise. Miniature rum baba was beautifully moist, cherry clafoutis very light, madeleines skilfully made, chocolates suitably rich (17/20).
Service was very good throughout the evening, attentive with careful topping up, led by two managers from France. The bill came to $271 (£160) before tip with one of the cheaper wines on the list. A realistic bill with moderate wine plus service is going to be around $300 (£178). Overall this was an enjoyable meal, with a high level of skill in the kitchen limited on occasion by the restrictions of the local produce. The comparison of the quality of the peas here compared with the identical dish that so impressed me at Guy Savoy in Paris demonstrate the limitations that are imposed in serving food out here in the desert. This is good food, but at a high price.