...the only type of marathon I will ever run.

Friday, April 11, 2008

The Grand Finale

Fine dining is as foreign to me as driving a Rolls Royce. I bet the two experiences are very similar and, after my recent birthday dinner at Guy Savoy, my goal is to drive a Rolls Royce very soon.

I'd read a lot about Guy Savoy's Menu Prestige (the $290, 10 course, 3-4 hour tasting menu) before our trip to Vegas. I don't know why, but I didn't expect the level of impeccability and perfection that they brought... course after course after delicious course. My immediate reaction was I need to win the lottery immediately for any other meal would now pale in comparison.

I'm pretty sure our meal would register on most foodie's top lists of tasting menus in America (except maybe Joel Plotnicki who seems to eat like this every week).
From the stool to keep our female guest's purse off the ground, to the wine list that easily could replace wikipedia in its vast content, no detail was left unattended. With Guy Savoy's son running the restaurant (even serving dishes when no waiter was immediately available), there's a comfort and elegance to the service that we sorely lacked the night before. To enjoy the meal thoroughly I decided not to take pictures (every photo in this post is stolen).
Floating back and forth through the restaurant throughout the night were a number of gourmet carts including: the cocktail cart featuring six champagne choices and a range of scotches, the bread cart featuring more than ten breads that would be paired with each course, the cheese cart strewn with cheese from all regions and finally the dessert cart which really deserves a trip of its own when one hasn't gorged on 14 courses prior.
While we waited for our third guest to arrive we were treated to a mini foie gras club sandwich on a sturdy metal toothpick. Our first of many pieces of bread was delivered as well. To give you an idea of the type of abundance we're talking about, we got another mini sandwich once our guest arrived, and she got a second just so she'd be even with us... Next was a similar toothpick but this time it skewered a mini black truffle hamburger. In three indulgent bites they'd made most tray-passed wedding appetizers seem like Burger King leftovers.
We were served sparkling and flat water before we chose a glass of champagne from the cocktail cart. We opted for one of the less expensive bottles of French wine (they range from $100-$16,000). All this and we were still only on the amuse bouche portion of the meal- the third of which was a small cup of onion soup with diced root vegetables. The cup was fused to another cup which was facing down. When lifted it revealed a surprise post-soup treat, some kind of cream and cracker combination.
The actual tasting menu began with a pairing of seaweed bread with
--Oysters in Ice Gelée - Huîtres en Nage Glacée
For a menu of this size one oyster would have been plenty. Somehow we were each served three oysters each, which I wouldn't have complained about unless I knew what was to follow. Of course they were succulent and delicious. The sweetness of the oysters with the citrus glacee was very memorable (like we’re still thinking about them right now).
--« Colors of Caviar » vinaigrette of caviar; cream of caviar; string bean puree; Iranian golden Osetra caviar; warm Saboyan.There's no need to go in to detail as the decadence is self-explanatory. Again, if only we knew how much there was to follow. A multi-grain bread referred to as "cereal bread” followed with:
--Crispy Sea Bass with Delicate Spices- Bar en Ecailles Grillées aux Epices Douces
The fish was a delicate and flavorful masterpiece beckoning an encore.
More bread followed including chestnut bread with:
--Roasted Foie Gras “en Cocotte”, Cardamom Infused Duck Bouillon, - Glazed Chestnuts and Galette Grand Caraque- Foie Gras de Canard Rôti en Cocotte, - Bouillon de Canard à la Cardamome, Châtaignes et Galette Grand Caraque
As if the foie gras wasn't rich enough in the amuse bouche, this course was a stunning presentation of intense flavor and rich texture. The chestnuts provided a nice crunch to compliment the softness of the foie gras.
--Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup, -Toasted Mushroom Brioche, and Black Truffle Butter- Soupe d’Artichaut à la Truffe Noire, Brioche Feuilletée aux Champignons et Truffe This course was slightly less powerful than the previous delicacies, but not by much. I don’t remember the bread pairing but it may have been lemon bread or bacon bread.
--Roasted Veal Chop, Black Truffle Potato Purée, -Young Vegetables Braised in Veal Jus-Côte de Veau Juste Rôtie, Purée de Pommes de Terre à la Truffe Noire, -Légumes Braisés au Jus de Veau
If this wasn't so tasty I probably could have resisted finishing every bite. Unfortunately I couldn't pass it up and as a result ate all of it including the richest, mashed potatoes that stuck to my ribs on the way down.
The special of the night (which we didn’t get with the tasting menu) was guinea hen cooked in a pig’s bladder. The steam and hen filled bladder was presented tableside where it was cut to reveal a fantastic aroma. Which reminds about the regenerative properties of a pig's bladder.
Another special (which was added to our tasting menu) was:
--Black Truffle Rissoto
To be honest, at this point I was getting full, but it was definitely very good. I don't actually remember that well....
--Sélection de Fromages Affinés
Apple walnut bread, something with raisins and one other were paired with an assortment of cheese including french cheddar, a camembert, a french blue goat cheese and some sort of sheeps milk cheese that I can’t remember. I love cheese as much as I love bacon, and it was disappointing to be so full by this course. Again, I would go back just for the cheese and dessert next time just so I could marvel at them on their own.
--Citrus Salad- Salade d’Agrumes
This course was perfect as it was light and refreshing. An array of fresh, colorful fruit was served on a perforated ceramic plate which sat atop a wide ceramic bowl. Chamomile tea was poured over the fruit, before dropping through the holes to ignite hidden nitrogen sending plumes of tea-infused steam up like flavored towers.
--Chocolate Fondant, Crunchy Praline, Chicory Cream- Fondant Chocolat au Pralin Feuilletée et Crème Chicorée
The chocolate began the dessert course, followed by a cart of the most insane looking lollipops, banana sorbet, 5 kinds of pudding, peanut butter and jelly macarons, truffles, mini chocolate chip cookies, short bread, chocolate short bread, caramels, pineapple marshmallows and a list of other sweets that I don’t remember.
Bescause everything was special, the teapots were beautiful.
At one point during the meal a diner at another table asked for a bottle of Tabasco sauce. We asked our waiter what happens in a situation like this and he admitted that they go to a different restaurant in the hotel, as they obviously don’t have Tabasco sauce in their kitchen, but will always make the customer feel at home.
It's actually not hard to justify the $480 per person price tag. In Vegas many people go through $500 in a few minutes or hours, so spending it on a 4 1/2 hour meal is worth it. Also, you're paying for the theater and experience. Some people pay $150 an hour for a massage or at a show, but I'd rather spend the money dining.
On the way out our female guest was given a gift box with little caramels and chocolates with hazelnuts.
I've been asked if it was the best meal I've ever had. The sheer volume and scope of the meal really puts it on a different level, but it's not comparable to a regular three course dinner. It was definitely my most memorable meal and longest blog post to date.


At 4:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow this sounds so incredible that I have just decided that I too must go for my birthday celebration. Thanks for the lovely blog. -Michelle (your new fraiche bff)

At 9:08 AM, Blogger Food Marathon said...

What about Joel Robuchon instead, and I'll join you....

At 6:07 PM, Blogger I, Drobot said...

That sounds fantastic, if only there were such substantial vegetarian fine dining experiences.

At 10:12 AM, Anonymous Mitch said...

I'm full after reading...


Post a Comment

<< Home