Over the past couple weeks, as is our position, Mr. Curtas and I have eaten out on our own, and have noted some new dishes of the season’s menu change that deserve their due recognition. We’ve taken the best of the best and are bringing to you those that really struck a chord with us.
For anyone wanting to take up the fun little occasion of a “Dine Around”, this would be a great guide for it. Why did I do a top 9 instead of a top 10? Well, you could say that last spot is for YOU, dear reader, to tell me in the comments your top pick in new spring menu items. I look forward to reading it, and maybe even trying it out for myself…
Curry Scallops with Cauliflower (Les Saint-Jacques au Chou-Fleur et Curry) – Le Cirque in Bellagio:
New Executive Chef Paul Lee is making full use of his new position as “fine dining guy to keep your eye on” by really veering away from the commonplace, the expected, and the national dining character itself. While everyone is tripping over themselves trying to chip this and gelee that, Chef Lee is de-complexifying things. These scallops were indeed scallops, but the specter of a spicy green curry and nutty roasted pistachios added to its natural sweetness and buttery flavor. Each bite (I took mine with the endive salad) finishes off with nutty roasted Sicilian pistachios and tangy, umami tamarind vinaigrette. It wasn’t in your face, but it was really in your head. If I had to really describe it, it would be the difference between a pretty lady coming up and ripping your shirt off, and the same just giving you a wink from across the room. Paul Lee is really exemplifying the maxim “Less is more”.
Foie Gras with Rhubarb compote – Public House in The Venetian:
Danged near everywhere, I’m seeing this massive influx of rhubarb, especially rhubarb and foie gras. I think I’ve seen four in the past couple weeks that all had that same formula. I think this was the best example of it (I have yet to try the Foie Gras w/ rhubarb 3-ways by John Courtney at Pinot Brasserie.) because of simply the quality of the brioche, the range in flavor of the compote and jus, and the technical precision of the foie. Each bite had that livery richness, a perfect level of salt, not too much sweetness, and a beautiful blend of spice notes from the jus. While I usually prefer to err on the savory side of the foie gras spectrum, this was a wonderful example of the sweet side.