February 17, 2005
Ah Paris. City of Light. Where American's go when they die, according to some, and a moveable feast to others. But regardless of how romantic you feel about it, leaving Las Vegas in the dead of winter to suffer the slings and arrows of the haughty French and the humorless Germans made perfect sense to me. Sure it was cold over there, and snowy and politically unfriendly. And the dollar has taken such a drubbing by the Euro that I half expected to see soup kitchens for destitute Americans lining the Champs-Elysee. But keeping up my street cred as a critic takes time, money and the occasional ten hour flight, so off I was.
The point of my excursion was basically to escape the porcine monotony of German food....a rigorously enforced diet that apparently loses major nutritional points if three kinds of sausage, two softball-sized dumplings and a mountain of spaetzle are not included on every plate. And don't even get me started on the strict German decorum that insists upon five liters of beer being consumed at every meal.
So after a week of this ....uhm....er....cuisine, I hopped a train for Gay Paree. Like a big game hunter I intended to stalk and capture as much Alsatian food as possible. The reason being that this easternmost French province serves the heartiest, most rib-stickin' fare in the country, and does so without the boring redundancy that German cooks can't seem to escape. Germans may serve- sauerkraut, but Alsatians make it sing by spicing it up with everything from juniper berries to Champagne. And Alsace is the capital of foie gras....goose foie gras to be precise, the silkiest and sexiest liver you'll ever gorge yourself on. Pair these up with a tarte flambee and a couple of bottles of Tokay Pinot Gris or Riesling, and you're talking about the perfect cold weather food.
And that pretty much describes the meal I had at Brasserie Flo, a one hundred an thiry year institution that opened-like many Parisian brasseries-after the Germans captured Alsace in 1871 and the French natives rebelled at having to live under so many consonants.
Amazingly, in spite of the dollar's decline in value, my brasserie meals were quite reasonable, so you can imagine the sticker shock I experienced when I cruised by a Michelin 3-star temple of gastronomy that I had eaten in five years ago on my quest to dine in all of the top restaurants of France. I expected a sharp rise in prices, but I wasn't expecting the appetizers to weigh in at 80 euros per....or around $100 for your first course. with Main courses checking in at 90 Euros and going up to 120....that's almost a hundred and fifty dollars for an entrée. With desserts costing a least 30 bucks a pop, you're talking a 300 dollar stroke, before you order a drop to drink.
After catching my breath, I decided to give those liver dumplings in Munich a second chance. But then I remembered the one about the bad German restaurant...... the spaetzle was cold, the sauerkraut wasn't....and the wurst was yet to come.
See discussion rules
|Nov 24, 2010 | Thanksgiving 2010 - Another Beanie Reveal|
John Curtas delves into family history to discover the real story behind Grandma Schroader's Sour Beans.
|Nov 19, 2009 | Valentino -- You don't know the truffles I've seen|
According to Food Critic John Curtas, no other Italian restaurant in Las Vegas has performed at such a high level for so long.
|Oct 1, 2009 | Blow It Up|
In at least one part of town, our dining critic John Curtas says the food used to be a lot better.
|Sep 25, 2009 | Social Media Meltdown|
For our dining critic, John Curtas, social media has started to intrude on dining out.
|Sep 2, 2009 | Discovering LOS ANTOJOS|
Our dining critic John Curtas finds a new affordable favorite.
|Aug 20, 2009 | Chinois R.I.P.|
For John Curtas the recent closing of Wolfgang Puck's first Las Vegas restaurant brings back memories.
|Aug 3, 2009 | Food, Inc.|
John Curtas turns movie reviewer today - but the subject is in his usual area of expertise. Hear his review of "Food, Inc."
|Jul 16, 2009 | The Steak That Saved Las Vegas|
Dining critic John Curtas finds some steak aged for EIGHT MONTHS and he tells us how it tastes.
|Jul 2, 2009 | Bang for Your Buck|
Everyone's food budget is tighter these days. But if you still want to dine out now and then, our dining critic John Curtas has a few tips on restaurants now giving you more bang for your buck.
|Jun 19, 2009 | Whassup with Wazuzu|
Explore Dining Critic John Curtas' love/hate relationship with Wazuzu. If you want to spice up your dinner go for at least a "4 or 5."
|Jun 12, 2009 | Two Farmer's Markets|
Fresh, locally produced food has become a big trend across the U.S. Our food critic, John Curtas, says there's more of this trend in Las
Vegas than you might think.
|Jun 4, 2009 | MandM Soul Food|
John Curtas tells us about one of his favorite dining spots - a surpsingly affordable one.
|May 28, 2009 | Checkpoint Charlie|
While fine dining has seen a downturn in Las Vegas in recent months, our dining critic John Curtas says at least one dining legend intends to stay put. Charlie Trotter is standing pat in Las Vegas. John Curtas reviews Resturant Charlie.
|May 8, 2009 | Food Festival Frenzy!|
It's a time of many food festivals in Las Vegas. John Curtas has an overview.
|May 5, 2009 | Peppermill Coffee Shop and Fireside Lounge|
A landmark Las Vegas restaurant gets a visit from John Curtas. He takes you to the Peppermill.
|Apr 23, 2009 | Thai Me Up Thai Me Down|
Thai cuisine is starting to show up in more places in Las Vegas. John Curtas has some recommendations
|Apr 9, 2009 | A Gourmet Corner - In Spring Valley?|
Food Critic John Curtas takes a trip to the strangest gourmet corner in town.
|Apr 2, 2009 | Pip's is a Pip|
If you're looking for good dining near Aliante, our dining critic, John Curtas, has found a new place to go.
|Mar 26, 2009 | Stripped to Its Bare Essentials|
Dining on steak at Planet Hollywood! John Curtas takes you along.
|Mar 19, 2009 | Hachi is absolutely amazing!|
John Curtas has a find - a Japanese-fusion restaurant on the
west edge of the city.