Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Andre's at the Monte Carlo

VERDICT: Preorder the chocolate soufflé.

This is a fine dining establishment on the strip.  I don't do fine dining and I don't do the strip (very often), but I got sucked in to using a Groupon from Groupon.com (quite a fun thing to do, check it out).  It was for $75 worth of food for $35.  I knew that wouldn't cover the whole bill, but Greg had been dying to have a romantic dinner at Andre's for years.  I finally caved in when my cheapness was appeased by using a coupon at a upscale establishment; go ahead and judge me, I don't care.  Besides Greg had worked a ton of overtime and just won $1000 gambling.  How can we not be a little nouveau riche?
 
My first criticism of this place was the seating arrangement.  You, of course, can't see it on the picture above, but our table was along the wall, New York style, I was closer to the person sitting next to me than Greg who was across the table.  It made arguing difficult, which I guess only adds to the romance.  The previous sentence was a little foreshadowing for you literary types.  In way of more foreshadowing, our bill came to $310 before tip, but after Groupon.  I feel for that amount of money, there is no need to shove us together like cattle, but it is in a casino on the down-slide, so maybe they are hard up.

Everything on the menu looked great and a lot of items were only slightly outrageously priced.  Greg asked if I was going to have the chocolate soufflé, because I would have to pre-order it.  I said "no".  He then shot me the dirtiest look, like I just killed a cute, sleeping puppy while shouting racist comments.  I felt that I had to explain that I never have dessert and that I was thinking about a different dessert anyway.  Greg claims that events unfolded differently and that I'm going to make him out to be a monster on the blog.  If you would like to hear his side, please feel free to look at his blog...oh, that's right, he doesn't have one.  Score: me - 1, little Greg - 0.  This ended up being a huge fight after dinner about how I don't live it up and try new things...blah, blah, blah.  The rest of the dinner was fight free though and we have since made up.

Greg decided that he wanted to try the tasting menu, then he decided he wanted to add the two extra courses to make it a full seven course meal at $125 each.  Then he decided to add the wine paring for$90.  That kind of irked me in that he doesn't like wine and I hate the 1000% mark-up on wine at restaurants.  To his credit, he enjoyed the wine immensely, so I can't fault him.  I had the coke, which was served in a tall, thin glass jammed with ice.  They, of course, overcharged for coke and charged for each refill.  $25 for what resulted in basically a swish of coke seems outrageous.  The expensive things in fine dining should be for things that actually deserve the price.  This practice only cheapens fine dining in my opinion.  It makes it seem like is expensive for expensive sake....lame!

The meal began with a small, compliments-of-the-chef crab salad.  I don't know what it was actually, it was about two teaspoons of seafood crap served with a sliver of a potato chip on a cute, little fish plate.  I determined that this little morsel is just to remind you of how bad it could be and that everything afterwards will shine in comparison. 

First course:  A cold crab salad with what appeared to be Japanese radish served on a bed of lemony lentils.  It was delicious.  The crab was perfect, although, I did bite into a stray piece of crab shell.  I, of course, made no fuss about it, because my mother always taught me to pretend like nothing happened.

Second course: One large diver scallop with American sturgeon caviar placed on top served over artichoke puree and hollandaise sauce.  I've had caviar a couple times in my life and always found it too fishy to be enjoyable.  This caviar became pure bliss the instant it touched my tongue.  I can't describe the flavor.  It is unique and heavenly.  It did have a fishy finish, but was well worth it.  The scallop was cooked perfectly and the artichoke puree was the perfect compliment.  I dare say it was better than the first course.

Third course: This is where Greg and I are going to hell.  It was foie gras and was one of the extra courses.  I know, I know, it is horrible how they treat those geese and ducks.  Foie gras has been around since the ancient Egyptians.  I just have to wonder, how did they discover it?  "Hey, grab that goose and force feed it.  When it is good and fat, we'll eat its liver".  However it came to be, I can see how people look the other way to the treatment of fowl.  It was served over apples with some delicious sauce.  It was amazing.  I have only ever had the paté and it always tasted like...well, liver.  This tasted buttery and smooth.  I also find that this would be the perfect diet food.  The memory of it remains on the tongue even until the next day.  Greg and I both hesitated to eat again for fear of losing the flavor.  It also caused some sort of "warm tummy hug", which is my way of describing the feeling you get in your intestines after eating certain foods.  That tummy hug lasted well into the next day as well.  I dare say it was better than the second course.

Fourth course: Pork belly served with a wine reduction.  I was not looking forward to this course.  I'm not a big fan of pork and when it arrived it looked to be mostly fat.  OH MY GOD!  It was the most delicious fat I've ever had.  It melted in my mouth.  When I cook pork, it doesn't do that!  How do they do that?  Even my bacon fat is not delicious.  This was truly amazing.  I could not believe my mouth.  Thisalso added to the tummy hug.  I dare say it was better than the third course.

Fifth course: Ribeye served over mashed potatoes with a wine reduction and a small amount of Roquefort cheese.  The meat was slightly tough and Greg encountered gristle.  It was a let down, but then I knew that ribeye would never overshadow the previous courses.  I dare say this was worse than all previous courses.

Sixth course:  This was one of the extra courses.  It was a slice of goat or sheep cheese served with one hazelnut and a little hazelnut sauce on the side.  It had that horrible after taste that goat or sheep cheese has.  It was like there was a farm in my mouth and everybody was being milked.  Blek!  I dare say this was worse than all previous courses.

Seventh course: Dessert.  This was very exciting for Greg.  He is all about gourmet desserts.  It was a disappointing sampling of three desserts.   It came with a spoonful of flavorless chocolate mousse, a quarter-sized piece of cheesecake and a warm piece of brownie-like chocolate cake.  The cake was good, but certainly not gourmet.  I dare say this was better than the sixth course, but that's that.

All in all, the meal was amazing.  The first four courses really were mind-blowingly good.  I would recommend staying away from the ribeye and maybe getting the individual meals of scallops with appetizers of pork belly and God-forgive-me foie gras.  To avoid fights, pre-order the soufflé.  To save money, stay away from the cola.
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