Fleur de Lys, Las Vegas (March 2009)

This being my third meal at the Hubert Keller franchise, I harbored a slight concern that the food might lose some of its allure. Not only did we enjoy superb food, but the service also exceeded all ex ante expectations.

The amuse was a friendly hello from the kitchen. Concentrated droplets of grapefruit and cranberry woke up the palate, and the sweet beet tamed the tartness. 

Beet and goat cheese salad
Starting with the tuna and continuing through the remaining savory courses, Fleur de Lys’ breads became sine qua nons, specifically the rosemary-caramelized onion foccacia and the pretzel roll. The lime and vinegar sauce threatened to overpower the dish, but anise and sesame evened out the flavors, ensuring that the tuna’s freshness remained the focal interest. 

Ahi tuna tartare, fennel salad, ginger ponzu, sesame seed tuile

It is a given that veal ravioli, kampachi, and duck are delish. The vegetables, alas, tend to get overlooked at one’s peril. Cut carrots into canoe shapes, coat them in veal stock, and you can get anyone to nosh on them ad infinitum. 

Veal and Yukon Gold potato ravioli, braised carrots, pea foam
Ok, so maybe I will have to expiate for my two-day foie gras binge, but it is so bloody delicious. Add two butyraceous pieces of brioche and you have a winning–and Lipitor-inducing–combination.

Foie gras, raspberry, strawberry, blackberry, Cabernet sauvignon reduction

Brioche

Poaching the kampachi lent a velvety texture. The pickled mushrooms and ginger were piquant. Tempura-coated scallions furtively blended into the ginger foam, detected only by their mountainous batter and the imbricating parlsey. 

Olive oil poached kampachi, pickled shitakes, tempura scallions, ginger foam

The bok choy’s size relative to the duck is a testament to Keller’s reverence for vegetables. In general, an ancillary viand should not detract from the main ingredient. In this case, the bitter crucifer confidently towered over the supine, webbed-footed waddler. The cipollini onion topped with cracklings ought to be available to order by the half-dozen. 

Duck breast, duck confit, chestnut purée, cipollini onion, duck cracklings, baby bok choy
If there is anything I would deem posh boba, this would definitely qualify.

Coconut tapioca soup, kiwi, tempura plantain, strawberry, passion fruit-coconut sorbet
I reluctantly passed up the coffee service for fear that caffeine at 8:30 would keep me up too late, yet I could not resist quaffing the iced cappuccino.

Cappuccino, Bailey’s ice cream
The warm, lava-like fondant was rich, fit more for a chocolate fiend. 

Chocolate fondant, banana liquor

Kaffir lime sorbet, angel food cake, spring berries

After eating the petite fours, the perquisites of knowing the staff kicked in. A freshly baked batch of madeleines arrived. And then a duo of pièces de résistance occurred: Chef Keller greeted us at our table, followed by our server, who invited us into the kitchen. Simply put, Chef Keller exudes panache. As for the kitchen, it looked more like the National Security Agency’s headquarters with immersion circulators, stolid cooks at every station, and a surveillance camera to watch diners progress through their courses. With such affable service, I would not mind dining at Fleur de Lys three more times. 

Petite fours

Madeleines
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