I am an extraordinarily lucky man. I have lived in the United States, Mexico, and Nigeria, and in addition to those places have eaten meals in Indonesia, Japan, Canada, multiple spots in the Caribbean, Nicaragua, England, Holland, and probably some places I am forgetting. I am a proud consumer of food from street vendors, I grew up with home cooking in Texas, and I can comport myself reasonably well in very nice restaurants. I say all of this to express the judgment I use in making this claim- my favorite restaurant in the world is Le Cirque in the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. I have stayed there in a Penthouse suite and in other accommodations, although that is generally because it is convenient to this restaurant. My favorite place to eat remains my grandmother’s kitchen, but if I am going to pay for a meal then this is the place to do it.
So, yeah, I like fancy places. That is not, however, the only kind of place at which I enjoy dining. When I worked in Mexico City, my favorite way to eat was from street vendors. I am 42 years old and still have the great blessing of cooking with my grandmother, and I have probably been doing that since the Ford presidency. I say all that to make a point- I do not require fancy trappings to impress me with a place. My first experience at Le Cirque, however, converted me into a very big fan of what they do.
I have eaten at Le Cirque four times, and the first was scheduled for January 2014. We were scheduled to be a party of three, but one of my buddies couldn’t make it because his flight got cancelled. Another buddy made it to Vegas but came down with an unpleasant illness which confined him to the hotel room. That meant our party of three became a party of one, and I felt a little awkward when I walked up to the restaurant for our reservation and asked if they would seat me as a single person. “But of course, Mr. Dinedrinktravel. We are sorry to hear that your friends are ill. Right this way.”
That meal followed with exquisite service for a party of one. I hope “exquisite” is the right word here. Nothing about the service was obtrusive- I had plenty of time to enjoy my food and drink, and there was no pressure for anything. However, they seemed to sense what I wanted before I wanted it. The food was amazing and was exquisitely paired with the wines. I felt welcomed even though their revenue sharply decreased from my party of three becoming a party of one.
I have eaten there three more times- twice as a party of two (each time with one other friend), and once as a party of five. I am actively plotting how to get to Vegas for my next trip. When you go, please do know that dinner with wine pairings and a decent tip will cost something like $300-$350. I work for a living, so that isn’t something I can do very often. I am excited, however, that my wife agreed to go there with me later this year. Woe betide whoever gets between us an that meal.
When you do go, please don’t try to scrimp and save to save a few bucks on the experience. Get the five course tasting menu, and get the wine pairing with it. I am not even a wine guy- I mostly drink bourbon and vodka- but these folks know what they are doing. The tasting menu also comes with bread, and an amuse bouche, and probably several other things which aren’t on the menu. Do yourself a favor, and have an exquisite meal at this exquisite restaurant. And look for my next review of this place, which will cover what I actually ate there in significantly greater depth.