Every year, about mid-February, everyone’s thoughts turn to romance. What could be a more romantic Valentine’s Day gift than a trip to Paris? Can’t quite float a trip overseas? Well, if you’re in Las Vegas, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant can provide fabulous French food, a dimly lit romantic setting, and superb service, while gazing out over the famous Vegas Strip!
Built into the half-scale replica of the famous Paris landmark, and hovering 11 stories above street level, the Eiffel Tower Restaurant is full of surprises. When you reach restaurant level, the elevator doors open onto the kitchen, but a sharp right turn takes you past the large bar to the podium where the hostess will greet you and escort you to your table. The dining area is a bit of a surprise as well - curved lines and red leather banquettes offset by the silver support struts of the tower itself, bisecting the room at various angles. The tower was built before the hotel and when the restaurant was created, the architecture was simply incorporated into the decor.
The street-side windows were lined with small, triangular “couples tables”, ideal for a romantic mood. Most of these tables had an unrivaled view of the Bellagio Hotel with its renowned fountain show. My friend and I were lucky enough to be seated at one of them, and we began the meal with flutes of champagne.
The culinary surprises began almost at once - a shot of celery root soup, warm, with bits of celery and a hint of leek in the broth; like a celery vichyssoise. Then followed a trio of amuse bouches: a Fava Bean Beignet - a comforting mouthful with shaved fennel for crunch, a Shrimp Gallette, like a tiny sandwich, with pickled leeks and a sriracha aioli (my favorite of the bunch). Finally, there was a duck strudel - a yummy roll of duck meat on a bed of sautéed lentils with a touch of vinegar for a nice bite.
Between us, we chose several appetizers: We split the Fricassee of Wild Escargot - a surprising presentation, with the snails in a creamy sauce, served atop a sweet garlic soufflé, with fingerling potatoes, cipollini onions and a Parmesan tuille, which provided a pleasant crunch and a nice strong cheese flavor. The Blue Cheese Soufflé Pudding was next. Made with Bleu d’Auvergne, the flavor was creamier, more buttery and less salty than anticipated. The soufflé itself was feather light and the balsamic reduction gave it just a hint of acid. The Lobster Bouillon was an intensely flavored soup - not as creamy as a bisque, it was served with a toasted brioche round and a tiny, delicious lobster flan! Garnished with bits of celery, sprouts, and lobster meat for added flavor and texture, the soup was a bit salty to my palate, but still one of my favorite dishes of the evening. Lastly, the Cold Foie Gras Torchon wrapped in duck prosciutto, was spectacular, winning over not just me, but my friend as well, both of us being fans of foie gras in its many forms. In this case, the foie had been soaked in milk and brandy, and warmed very gradually in a water bath. Sliced thin and served cold, the foie itself was melt-in-your-mouth creamy, with a warm, comforting hint of brandy at the finish. The prosciutto just enhanced the duckiness of the dish, and the accompanying fig compote added a sweetness that balanced the plate perfectly.
Our entrees arrived. My friend opted for the Roasted Rack of Lamb with tomato tart and tarragon jus. The lamb was perfectly done; just a bit on the rare side, but needed just a pinch of salt to bring out the flavor. The tomato tart - layers of tomato, creme fraiche, and eggplant, was a nice garnish, and the side of Brussels Sprouts was delicious. I chose the Charred Spice Crusted Venison, cooked to a lovely medium rare. Served with spiced apple and braised red cabbage, the venison had been rubbed with a combination of cocoa powder, cloves, and Szechuan pepper, making each bite a treat.
We decided not to indulge in any of the dessert soufflés, but instead decided to split the Passionfruit Coconut Champagne Meringue - a sort of baked Alaska, if you will: toasted meringue over passionfruit and coconut sorbet, garnished with bits of fresh pineapple. As a finishing touch, champagne is poured into the bowl, picking up and mixing the flavors from the dessert as it’s eaten. It was a tart, refreshing way to end the meal.
The Eiffel Tower Restaurant is quite popular, but as busy as it was, our servers always had time to refill our water glasses, get more bread, whisk away used plates, or in my case, answer questions about the food. The staff functioned as a team, making our meal a true standout.
With the unbeatable combination of exquisite French fare, tiny tables for two, a view that you can only find in Las Vegas, and a true romantic mood, this would be the perfect place to take your special someone for Valentine’s Day. If you can’t make it on February 14th, however, don’t be disheartened. At the Eiffel Tower Restaurant, Valentine’s Day can be any day of the week!
Originally published February 2014 – QVegas Magazine