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Saturday, March 20, we had a fabulous dinner at Fleur de Lys in the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino. Fleur de Lys is one of the Las Vegas restaurants of celebrity chef (and Top Chef Master) Hubert Keller, whose flagship restaurant is in San Francisco.
Keller started out as a pastry chef, inspired by growing up living over his family’s pâtisserie in Alsace, France. After studying with world-renowned chef Paul Bocuse (Bocuse d’Or), Keller moved to San Francisco and opened the original Fleur de Lys (1986). In September 2004, Keller opened Fleur de Lys Las Vegas.
Keller appeared on the first season of Top Chef Masters (he finished 3rd). Inspired by this experience, Keller created a tasting menu based on the recipes he created on the show. The signage outside the restaurant is what made us cancel our reservation at Strip Steak and book Fleur de Lys instead, because the menu listings included the Top Chef Masters Tasting Menu.
We arrived at our 6:15 p.m. reservation time and were seated immediately at a table near the lovely lounge area. The dining room is intimate and beautiful, surrounded with natural stone walls (pictured below with elevated wine cellar in view).
Our server was soon visiting us and telling us about the menu and getting a detailed description of my shellfish allergies so the chef could avoid serving me something that would be detrimental to my health.
There were several tasting menus available, including a vegetarian one, but we were interested in the Top Chef Masters Tasting Menu. So we both ordered the same items from that menu along with the following wine:
The “old vine” moniker refers to the fact that the grapes come from vines that pre-date Prohibition, some as large as tree trunks. The wine was rich, fruity, and dry; a perfect complement to the meal.
After receiving our wine, we were visited by the bread server who offered us a selection of four types of bread: rosemary bread, pretzel bread, honey wheat rolls, and challah bread. Kathy had a honey wheat roll and a piece of rosemary bread, and I had two pieces of pretzel bread. I also tried some of Kathy’s rosemary bread, and she tried some of my pretzel bread.
Then the servers appeared with our amuse-bouche:
Potato-wrapped cod with spicy creme fraise
This surprise one-bite starter was delicious and the perfect beginning to the meal.
Soon after this, we were served the appetizer:
“In the Shower” Mac & Cheese with Truffles and Fresh Herbs
Now we’ve had mac & cheese in other French restaurants, but this was, by far, the very best. It was the perfect combination of creamy, crunchy, and herbaceous with the added treat of black truffles. Never again will we touch the Kraft version.
We both had the same entree as well:
Final Episode Roast Filet Mignon and Braised Beef Cheek with Celery Root
The filet mignon was done perfectly, medium rare, and delicious with sides of creamy whipped potatoes and celery root. But the star of the entree was the braised beef check in a beef jus and lime reduction. Wow. It was tender, luscious, and full of flavor.
Almost full, we were then served the dessert:
22-star Buffet Tasting: Earl Grey Flavored Crème Brûlèe, Ginger Bread Verrine, Chocolate-Lemon Tart
The trio of desserts was a perfect ending to the meal. They were all scrumptious, but our favorite was the chocolate-lemon tart. The chocolate was so smooth and the lemon added a nice zing. The crème brûlèe was our second favorite, followed by the verrine. They were all good, though.
When we watched the first season of Top Chef Masters, our favorite chef in the competition was Hubert Keller. His food looked wonderful, and we liked his humble attitude. French food can be rich and fussy, but this is not the case with Keller’s. Each course was superb, rich, and nuanced. And along with the unobtrusive but attentive service, it made for one of our favorite fine dining experiences. It was such a delight. Thank you Hubert!