My dilemma arose when I decided that I would try to place a label on one of them as the very best restaurant in Las Vegas? Now, the truth is there really is no reason to decide that one restaurant is in fact the very best aside from the fact that it is a question that is asked of me daily. I no longer wanted to sit on the fence. I wanted to make a decision.
I should point out that my list of 2011 Best Restaurants in Las Vegas is somewhat different. I typically attempt to make a decision on how good a restaurant is by including the affordability variable. The top tier restaurants such as Joel Robuchon and Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace are in fact quite impressive but they do require a bit of a monetary investment. I always take that into consideration.
Do you get the feeling that even now as I write this I’m stalling? As if making a proclamation is just too difficult. Deciding between Joel Robuchon and Le Cirque is proving to be a challenge. Would I rather have a hug and a kiss from my wife or hug and a kiss from one of my children? Do I prefer one of my favorite beaches in West Maui or the crystal clear waters of Grace Bay in Turks and Caicos? Skiing the Blackcomb Glacier in Whistler or a powder day at Mammoth Mountain?
In every scenario, both are superior as they are when making a decision about Le Cirque and Joel Robuchon. However, I have decided that I must decide and state publicly that one restaurant that has made a larger impression today, right now, in the fall of 2011.
My experience at Le Cirque at the Bellagio was one of the best I have ever had. The atmosphere in the restaurant is far more than upscale fine dining. It was and is all encompassing. The food, of course, was in a class by itself, that is to be expected. The service, also to be expected, was beyond compare. You will find those factors at both restaurants. (still sitting on the fence?)
However, on the evenings that I was at both restaurants I found Le Cirque to be more comfortable. I found far more people willing to laugh out loud. I found more people willing to engage the servers. I observed a different dynamic in the simple way that conversations took place and people celebrated a fine meal. Le Cirque was as upscale as you can get but it never felt unattainable. It felt truly special and impossibly familiar as if there was no other place I belonged at that moment.
In my review of Le Cirque I mentioned that I felt I could be wearing flip flops. Not because it is so casual but because it is so comfortable.
There I said it. I think that Le Cirque is delivering the best possible ultra fine dining experience in Las Vegas right now. Is it a clear cut superior choice over Joel Robuchon or Guy Savoy? No, I would never say that, because food is so very subjective and the experience of eating is so personal.
You should understand that I have been lucky enough to eat at almost every restaurant on the Las Vegas strip and while my opinion might have some weight it really is only how I felt based on these two experiences. I did not compare my previous visits to the restaurants.
Also, so you can gauge where I’m coming from my best meal ever was Ahi Poke’ from the Fish Market in Honokowai in Maui. I sat with my wife in Honokowai Beach Park, on a crusty park bench a few feet from the sand under a large plumeria tree, just before sunset and I washed it down with the remnants of my son’s Guava juice. Even today I can’t decide if my after dinner kiss from my wife or my kids was better.
Some of my current choices for the Best in Las Vegas
- The Dry Aged Beef at Carnevino Steakhouse at Palazzo - Steak that will ruin your ability to ever eat at another steakhouse.
- The performers at Absinthe at Caesars Palace - Real adult humor without engaging in being politically correct.
- The Hawaiian influences at the Range Steakhouse at Harrahs - Inspiring dishes from a very talented chef.
- The Beer list at The Pub at Monte Carlo - More beer than you can ever taste.
- The Encore Escape Treatment at Encore Las Vegas - You will escape. Really.
- The feeling you get right before you jump off the Stratosphere Tower - Look before you leap? You should.
- The rooms and suite assistants at Hotel32 - A different form of luxury.
- The I Love Bacon Burger at I Love Burgers - Bacon. Do you need more info?
- The View from the Cosmopolitan Hotel - One of the hotspots on the Las Vegas strip that deserves attention.
- L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon - You didn't think I would not classify this as one of the best, did you? I could eat there every day.
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