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Best New Restaurants 2007

John Kernick Kobe-beef sliders at Cut

Photo: John Kernick

Las Vegas

Under attack in its homeland, grand French dining is finding an unlikely refuge in the Nevada desert. Vegas as the Paris of the Wild West? The mock Eiffel Tower visible from Guy Savoy (Caesars Palace, 3570 Las Vegas Blvd.; 877/346-4642; dinner for two $350) renders that illusion rather persuasively—except that you’re simultaneously staring at a faux- Roman Forum. For anyone who’s been living under a rock: Guy Savoy is the neoclassicist whose Paris restaurant holds three Michelin stars, and who coached the likes of Thomas Keller and Gordon Ramsay to greatness. And while his bring-on-the-truffles brand of grande cuisine hasn’t quite caught up with the times, Savoy’s new Vegas outpost makes a good case for saving it from extinction. With cathedral ceilings and enough space between tables to plot a casino-vault heist, the room is an exercise in understated glamour. Indulge in the "color of caviar," a shot glass that layers purée of haricots verts with osetra caviar and caviar-vinaigrette foam; a satiny artichoke soup strewn with truffle shavings like a gambling table with poker chips; and the clean flavor of turbot steamed with spinach and a poached egg laid atop a garlicky fish bouillon. If the sweet barrage of ganaches, glaces, and crèmes that follows inspires you to propose, the restaurant shares a floor with a wedding chapel. You won’t find that in Paris.

So you’ve lost your private jet at baccarat, then had to pawn the Rolex to pay for the Guy Savoy meal? That’s still no excuse for bailing out of a dinner at Robuchon at the Mansion (MGM Grand, 3799 Las Vegas Blvd. S.; 702/891-7925; dinner for two $320) and discovering why Joël Robuchon has been hailed as the greatest chef on the planet. A cart loaded with 15 types of bread baked in-house, all sublime (especially the bacon-laced epi lardon)? Voilà. Jewel-like amuse-bouche? Lemon gelée veiled in anise cream, and Granny Smith apple "pearls" on vodka granita brightened with yuzu foam—coming right up, Monsieur. Every morsel served in this spiffy dining room, which evokes an Art Deco town house, is a marvel: ephemeral langoustine dumplings bobbing in an intense crustacean reduction; an amazing truffled napoleon of spinach and tofu. While you dine, Robuchon might be busy tending his fifth Atelier—in Hong Kong—but the precision, perfection, and ingenuity of his flavors prove that the man keeps his creative edge as sharp as a Laguiole knife. The only thing as astonishing as your meal is the check, though a gift bag of bread somewhat softens the blow. Chew on the soft, oily basil focaccia as you reemerge into the din of MGM’s penny slot machines—and good luck trying to recover your fortunes.


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