Time to play catch-up before the weekend. So...
Yesterday I had lunch at Payard, which was promoting the opening in November of its restaurant in Las Vegas, at Caesars Palace. It will be serving breakfast and lunch like any regular restaurant, but with added grab-and-go options, but dinner will be all dessert, served as a three-course tasting.
I don’t understand this dessert-only restaurant fad we’re seeing and would appreciate someone explaining it to me. Is it part of the restaurant specialization trend that we’re seeing with the opening of burrito chains and fancy sandwich shops and yogurt stands and noodle bars and so on? Maybe.
A fellow guest (who is blushing as he reads this, he really is) told me a rumor that the restaurant will have some sort of holographic imaging device that will allow the production of chocolate busts of the restaurant's guests. I speculated that it would cost guests $150. Just a guess, we’ll see.
I sat next to Thomas the wine representative, from France’s Loire region. He told me that Loire wines were the most popular wines in France because of their reasonable prices and food-friendliness. I could see that. He provided us with a Marquis de la Tour (sparkling) Rosé (non-vintage), a 2006 Remy Pannier Vouvray and a 2006 Chinon, also from Pannier.
On Monday I finally saw good old Clark Mitchell for the first time since May. We had dinner with Chad Belisario, who does PR for the Mandarin Oriental hotel group but whom I’ve known for years and years, since he was a budding young journalist for one of those big glossy monthlies. Then he was hired by Jennifer Leuzzi back around the turn of the century, when she was herself a publicist, and he ended up going down that route. Nice guy. Tall.
Anyway, we had dinner at Toloache, Julian Medina’s new Mexican restaurant. We left the menu up to Julian, except that Clark and I insisted that we must have the tacos de chapulines, which are made with dried grasshoppers imported from Mexico (along with sautéed onion, jalapeño and lime).
Chad was hesitant, but he was a good sport about it and seemed to enjoy them.
Basically, they're salty and crunchy. They reminded me very much of the dried shrimp that are a snack in Thailand.
Some of the other things we ate at Toloache:
"tradicional" with avocado, tomato, onion, cilantro and Serrano chiles
"frutas" with avocado, Vidalia onion, mango, apple, peach, habanero peppers and Thai basil "rojo" with avocado, tomato, red onion, chipotle and queso fresco
Malpeque oyster shooters with Huichol salsa, red onion, agave and Meyer lemon
Vuelva a la Vida ceviche with shrimp, octopus, hamachi, oyster, spicy tomato salsa and avocado
Spicy yellowfin tuna ceviche with key lime, Vidalia onion, radish and watermelon
Huitlacoche and truffle quesadilla with manchego cheese and corn
A variety of tacos, including the grasshopper one
Suckling pig with habanero-sour orange salsa, cactus, avocado and chicharrones
What I ate at Payard:
Chilled heirloom tomato soup with guacamole and basil
Baby arugula salad with pine nuts, Parmesan shavings and black Mission fig
Seared salmon with white pineapple, cucumber Rémoulade and wasabi-buttermilk dressing
Mini beef burger on pretzel bread with tomato confit
Pomegranate poached pear with Cabrales cheese and Szechuan pepper ice cream
"Four Hour" apple cardamom crumble with crème fraîche ice cream
Payard hazelnut candy bar with salted caramel sauce
Palet d'Or with crispy meringue, hazelnut wafer, butter chocolate mousse and gold leaf.