After the unforgettable experience at the Liquid Pool party, I was a bit concerned about the idea of eating at a restaurant that is located just off the casino floor.
We had a reservation at Andre’s in the Monte Carlo – the restaurant of celebrity chef Andre Rochat serving contemporary French cuisine – and the thought of eating dinner as the slot machines sounded off was not sitting well with me (to be honest, I did not even check the location before I made the reservation, so I was moreso kicking myself).
It’s fun to people watch, but a nice dinner deserves a proper setting – and, honestly, after spending all day in the chaos that is Vegas (and the 105-degree weather), I was looking for a little escape, maybe some peace and quiet in a relaxed atmosphere.
I was happily surprised when we were escorted through a set of solid doors. When they closed behind us, we found ourselves in what they describe as an eclectic twist on a French classic – a turquoise blue set against white and grey walls. When those doors were closed, the noise of the casino floor completely disappeared, and the waiter came over and took our drink orders.
Andre’s boasts one of the widest selections of cognacs and after-dinner drinks in North America (and the wine list has more than 1,500 selections and an inventory of 12,000 bottles) – so there was plenty to drink, and we started with a specialty cocktail. I had the cucumber martini. It was very cold and clean tasting and a very good first drink to wipe the palate clean (I had it cleaned again when they served us a palate cleanser before the entree – a nice touch).
I started with a bowl of French Onion soup ($12) – something I really enjoyed at the last French restaurant I ate at in Rosarito Beach (Chabert’s). I don’t order it much anymore – I’ve had so many bad versions – but I have to go for it if I see it on the menu at an upscale restaurant.
I was not disappointed – it was delicious, not too salty or overloaded with cheese. My friend had the Duck Confit Salad ($15) and I sampled – I would have ordered it if I didn’t get the soup. It’s light, and a good way to get a taste of duck if you don’t plan on ordering it for the main course.
There were many tempting things on the menu – from scallops to chicken to salmon to lamb (the menu is always evolving, FYI, but this gives you an idea). Andre’s definitely gives you options and variety – there is no question about that given the drink and food menus (all very extensive).
Choices make it tough to order sometimes, but that night I operated under the assumption that everything should be good for these prices (entrees ranged from approx $30-$70), so with a “can’t miss” attitude I ordered the chicken.
My friends ordered the duck and the Scottish Salmon – and we were all so impressed with our first bites that we had to share them, and we ended up passing the dishes around the table. My chicken was so damn tender – seriously – it melted in my mouth, an experience I rarely get with chicken. It was nice to get something that was cooked so perfectly – often times chefs are concerned about chicken and roast the thing to death.
I would highly consider ordering the Scottish Salmon ($37) if I went back – it too was cooked perfectly and the shrimp and red curry sauce was addicting – but the duck won for presentation. Most of it came served in small pieces on a line of rice, but the rest was off to the side atop a pastry/mango/foie gras combination. The pastry forms the base, with the mango and duck and foie gras stacked on top. Trust me, it worked.
I was full and content by the end of the meal, and an after-dinner drink was on my mind. I ordered a Pernod ($12), a french version of absinthe. I added in the sugar and warm water, and the slow-sipper put me in a pleasant and chatty mood for conversation at the table.
After dinner, we checked out the second floor of the restaurant – Las Vegas’ only cigar lounge that’s connected to a Strip resort property (Monte Carlo). It’s a beautiful room, dark with a fireplace and a back-lit bar that displays a fine collection of cognacs. My buddy and I were tempted to settle in for a smoke and a drink, but there was no way we were getting away with that (our friends aren’t big smokers).
Back into the chaos we went.