Life is so brief that we should not glance either too far backwards or forwards…therefore study how to fix our happiness in our glass and on our plate – Grimod de la Reyniere
It’s no secret that ELV is an inveterate Francophile. Since the days of Thomas Jefferson, it has been French food, French restaurants, and most especially French chefs who have led America out of its uncouth culinary youth and into the promised land of good eating. China may be the greatest of all world cuisines, but it is French technique and savoir faire that have been most responsible for Americans eating well.
Because of this, as just about every food fan in Vegas knows, we’ve been in sauté/cassoulet/à votre santé heaven over the last five years — ever since Joël (as in Robuchon) and Guy (as in Savoy) planted their flags on our soil. And if you’ll forgive us a bit of local pride, neither New York nor Chicago nor L.A. nor ‘Frisco has seduced these luminaries (along with paisans Pierre Gagnaire and Alain Ducasse), the way our humble burg has.
It’s all about money of course — 38 million mouths are more tempting than the cut-throat, small bore Manhattan restaurant scene, or San Francisco’s provincial one — but because the crème de la crème are here and not there, the baseline for great cooking in the High Mojave has been forever raised and spoiled us for anything that doesn’t measure up.
To such thoughts did ELV’s mind wander as he appeared at the Fox 5 studios to watch Robuchon give his first Las Vegas TV interview (and one of the few interviews he’s ever done in America) recently. Besides kibbitzing with him, and James Beard Southwest Chef of the Year Claude Le Tohic, and G.M. Emmanuel Cornet, we got to hang with Fox 5’s foxy Rachel Smith:
(KVVU’s resident foodie), and hear Joël compliment our book and thank us for being such big supporters of Vegas’ French Foodie Revolution. To which we could only reply de rien, Mon. Robuchon.
From hobnobbing with JR, it was only a short stroll over to Restaurant Guy Savoy for its autumn menu, featuring lièvre à la royale (wild hare fit for a king). Waverly Root defines this hare-raising dish as a creation from the Limousin (Central Plateau) area of France. It is a dish so famous that in the eighteenth century, a special terrine/earthenware dish was invented for it. (If you’ve ever seen those oval-shaped, rabbit-covered terrines in Williams-Sonoma, you get the idea.) Root says: “Its chief distinction was its stuffing, into which went the liver, heart and lungs of the hare, hashed up together; cooked with goose foie gras; fat pork; bread crumbs soaked in bouillon; chopped onions previously cooked in butter, chopped truffles and parsley; a little garlic and hare’s blood.”
That blood (and those lungs, heart and liver), give this dish a wild, gamy funk that is one of the most unique in gastronomy. It is not for the faint of heart…or hare…but is one of those essential dishes to try if you ever want to establish your gourmet bona fides, or cross swords, or stubby fingers with the likes of Reyniere. Super-somm Phil Park matched it perfectly with a La Chappelle (no relation to Dave) de la Mission Haut-Brion (’99) — that, like that wabbit, had a finish so long we’re still tasting it.
ELV left a $95 tip on his comped meal that would’ve been a Benjamin if he hadn’t needed an Abe for the valet.
RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY
In Caesars Palace Hotel and Casino
3570 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109