If you follow us on Facebook, you know we had a bit of a problem with the cassoulet at Comme Ça the other night. But forget that for a moment and allow us to praise just about everything else about the joint.
We love Adam Tihany’s post-modern-take on the classic French bistro. The wall graphics (a whimsical riff on traditional blackboard menus) depict everything that’s every informed David Myers’ cooking (pigs, oysters, cheeses, etc.), along with a map of all of his favorite restaurants in Gay* Paree (some of which are slightly, whimsically, mislocated). Some might find the place a bit cold, especially at lunch, but like the Parisian originals, this place shines at night, and makes everyone look good. Just as wonderful is the wrap-around outdoor balcony/patio, providing one of the most stunning views of the Strip, day or night.
Service is also a drawing card, as is the reasonable wine list — full of interesting bottles that won’t require an hydraulic lift for your jaw. Lots of Alsatian and other bistro-food-friendly fermented juice abounds, and it’s clear from page one this is a place that wants you to drink a couple of bottles of good stuff….not strain to afford a bottle that ain’t worth it.
Another plus is the comfy lounge — the only one on Cosmo’s third floor that’s actually built for drinking and schmoozing with a crowd — thanks to the banquettes lining the wall and plenty of chairs that beg you to stay in them and order another top flight cocktail.
We even like most of the food we’ve had here: the burger is fabolous, the lamb shank, fork tender, screaming for a meaty red wine, and the desserts — from the chocolate pudding to the apple tarte tatin (aka tarte renversée), are as good or better than anything you’ll find at Mon Ami Gabi or Bouchon.
Ditto our recent lunch of a skate wing and a grilled cheese sandwich — each demonstrating a careful cooking of good ingredients — although the skate could’ve used a pool of brown butter sauce to provide a lagniappe of moisture.
But then there’s the cassoulet. We’ve had it twice, and it needs some serious work — along with seasonings, fat, cooking time and meat. But we’ve been told they’re working on it, so we at ELV will go easy on the chefs here until they can pick up a Julia Child cookbook, and learn to do one right. Or maybe take a hint from Le Central in ‘Frisco, where they’ve had a pot of cassoulet beans bubbling for over 30 years.
In The Food of France, Waverly Root describes cassoulet thusly: “White beans cooked in a pot with various types of meat, which takes its name from the dish in which it is cooked. Anatole France claimed in his Histoire Comique that the casssoulet he used to eat in a favorite establishment in Paris had been cooking for twenty years. It is doubted that any restaurant could be found today in which the stoves had not been allowed to cool off in that length of time.” (ELV must assume the owners of Le Central took that as a personal challenge when they opened their restaurant on Bush Street, and started simmering their beans in 1974!)
Root continues, “There are three types of cassoulet (named after three towns in the Languedoc), those of Castelnaudary (all things pork: cracklings, shank, sausage, shoulder); Carcassonne, distinguished by mutton; Toulouse, distinguished by goose. Toulouse also starts out with the Castelnaudary base, but adds to it not only mutton…but also bacon, Toulouse sausage, and preserved goose. The last ingredient may sometimes be replaced by preserved duck, or there may be samples of both.”
ELV ain’t got nuttin’ ‘gainst no mutton, but we’ll be happy if Chef Sheridan Su leaves that part out of whatever he cooks up.
Until then, beware of the beans and concentrate on a solid bistro lunch, a great hamburger, a good, gooey grilled cheese, and a wine list that’s worth celebrating all by itself.
Our lunch for two came to $94 including a $54 bottle of white wine.
In The Cosmopolitan Hotel and Casino
3708 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109
* As in: winsome and full of mirth.