Friday, December 17, 2010

Comme Ca, Las Vegas NV

…the new kids on the block, but not really, is probably the best way to describe the collection of restaurants at Vegas’ newest property – the Cosmopolitan. Sheik, swank, dazzling, and quite frankly over-the-top I have to say the property is impressive and actually downright sexy – it somehow feels “softer” than other Vegas resorts. Obviously taking a cue from the rest of Vegas (save for WynnCore,) The Cosmo outsourced its dining operations to a number of well known chefs and aside from a Conant and Andres most of them opted to port over a previous concept to the luxurious confines instead of creating something new. With 8 days of eating planned across Las Vegas and Los Angeles it seemed only fitting that my first meal of the visit would be at David Meyers’ LA import Comme Ca.

Trained by Charlie Trotter and Daniel Boulud (as well as at Les Crayères,) Meyers is perhaps the least well known of the star chefs at The Cosmopolitan with all of his previous efforts located in Southern California – first Sona, later Comme Ca, and recently Pizzeria Ortica – but unlike the others his resume includes a Michelin Star. Arriving early for my noon lunch reservation I fully anticipated some kinks in a 2-day old restaurant…what I didn’t expect was to find Meyers working the kitchen, the room, and even the bar. I also didn’t expect to find a room quite so modern.

Arriving early I was greeted pleasantly and led swiftly to a two-top near the floor to ceiling windows looking out onto the rainy strip. Simple and clean on the interior with a fantastic looking patio adorned with red lamps for outdoor dining the feel of Comme Ca was not exactly “French Bistro” but “French Vegas Bistro” – clearly a stylistic choice befitting Meyers and a move I personally enjoyed since Pinot, Bouchon, and even Mon Ami Gabi seem to try to hide the fact that they are indeed located in Las Vegas.

Provided a menu, wine, and cocktail list I browsed for a bit before my server, a humble and helpful gent named Robert (originally from just up the road in Sandusky Ohio) greeted me, answered a few questions (soup du jour, no substitutions on the lunch prix fixe, and not all the charcuterie was in stock yet,) and took my order. Sitting back and listening to the soft French-pop over the speakers it was a matter of moments before my first taste of Comme Ca would arrive – a hot and buttery soft baguette with a texture almost like an Amish pretzel – a nice start and in my opinion superior to Bouchon’s famed epi in all ways except the ice-cold butter (which was largely unnecessary given the buttery flavor of the bread.)

For my first proper dish I opted for the $15 selection of charcuterie in addition to the $28 three course prix fixe. With the pork rillets unavailable I opted for the pate, head cheese, and chicken liver mousse. Served along with lettuce, toasted baguette, cornichons, and mustard the portions were ample and each selection was nicely prepared though I actually found the chicken liver somewhat less flavorful than I’d have hoped while the head cheese was flawless and sliced thinly enough to melt on the tongue leaving behind nothing but a bold and smoky sapor.

For the proper first course of my lunch I would receive the soup du jour – butternut squash bisque with lardons, toasted pumpkin seeds, and crème fraiche. A larger bowl than I’d have expected for a prix fixe the “bisque” was more ”veloute” with its creamy yet vegetal finish and a slight tang from the crème fraiche. With intermittent flares of crunch and salinity from the lardons and seeds the dish was nicely prepared with hints of nutmeg and pepper occasionally shining through and again, the portion was unexpectedly sizable.

With the place slowly filling to approximately half capacity the service remained excellent throughout – water never dropped below half full and I was checked in on frequently. With approximately 15 minutes passing between soup and main course my next dish to arrive would be one of my standards – the Croque Madame. Served with a frisee salad topped with mild vinaigrette the Croque itself featured two slices of country bread – buttered and pan toasted inside and out – enveloping two thin-cut pieces of ham and gruyere with a second layer of gruyere melted and toasted atop the sandwich. Crowning the composition with a lightly salted sunny side egg and served piping hot this was a very competent Croque with excellent ingredients and the ham/egg/cheese/bread amalgam still remains my favorite sandwich ever since I was a boy and Denny’s Moons over My-Hammy was the standard bearer.

Sitting for approximately 15 minutes between my Croque and dessert I enjoyed three cups of Illy Regular blend while listening to the French-Pop overhead and watching the motion on the strip. Sated but certainly not stuffed prior to dessert I was pleasantly surprised when my profiteroles arrived – three portions of choux pastry approximately one and a half times the size of a golf ball topped with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream and wisps of spun sugar. Topped tableside with thick Valhrona chocolate fudge I was further surprised when I plunged my spoon into the pile only to discover the pastries themselves were stuffed with a mellow pastry cream. A full portion as part of a prix fixe the choice was certainly a gluttonous choice at lunch but every bit worth the calories.

Finishing the meal and paying the modest tab (about 35-40% less than a similar 4-course at Bouchon) I made my way to the door where I was stopped by Chef Meyers and a man who introduced himself as the Dining Room Manager who asked how everything had been - while I regrettably forgot to ask for a signed menu despite the opportunity, both the men were pleasantly conversant and seemed quite interested in what I (and multiple diners before me) thought of the food, room, and service. Impressed that such a new restaurant was executing so well I told them exactly that and both seemed pleased and thanked me for coming in – a nice gesture to end an excellent lunch. Whether Comme Ca will remain as impressive once Meyers returns to Los Angeles remains to be seen, but for now I wholeheartedly recommend a visit, whether for a full meal or just drinks, appetizers, and excellent service in a beautiful space.

1 comment:

Bobby @ Gourmands Review said...

Comme Ca looks like its going to be my new lunch spot.. Especially with the patio, I love dinning outside and its something that's really lacking in Vegas.. Looking forward to the rest of your reviews..