On July 14th, 1789, seven prisoners were freed when revolutionaries stormed the Bastille, and French restaurants haven’t been the same since. Several local French or French influenced restaurants commemorated this day with festivities or a special menu of French dishes. I chose Comme Ca, David Myers’ bistro/restaurant on the Third Floor of the Cosmopolitan, in which to celebrate the day.
The restaurant has been steadily on the upswing since Brian Howard took over the kitchen. Until recently, he ran a fantastic charcuterie program, until benighted local inspectors demand him stop. But he’s a relentlessly creative chef, and Myers is giving him lots of rope. Nonetheless, Myers was in town for the Bastille Day blow-out, a buffet of sumptuous proportions for a great price, $49. So I’m not sure who to credit. Let’s say both of them.
The menu, which the restaurant called “The Feast”, also afforded guests the option to have unlimited drinks for an additional $25, the house champagne, something they call Prohibition Punch, or a St. Germain Voltaire. I’m a big fan of the cocktail program here, so I opted in. The fete was well worth it.
The buffet had colorful salads such as a tomato salad with burrata cheese and basil pesto, and a rainbow-like beet salad with sherry vinegar. On ice were assorted oysters and fresh poached shrimp, and two sauces, classic mignonette, and red cocktail. I went right to the artisanal cheese board, where the house steak tartare, smoked salmon pate and various hams and salami were in residence.
Then I spotted the steamed mussels, hard to procure at the moment, and done deftly in a white wine saffron broth. I did not exercise caution, and ate far too many.
Lots of meats were being done on a woodfire grill on the restaurant’s back patio, such as a grainy house made merguez, the Moroccan lamb sausage, presented in a bath of red and yellow peppers, and sautéed onion. Leg of lamb and skirt steak au poivre also had their merits, but the real star of the buffet was Beer Can chicken, which is steamed literally with a full beer can thrust into the cavity, and finished on a grill. I’ll be dreaming about this chicken, the crispy skin and moist flesh, for a long time. Let’s hope Myers will put it on the menu here.
Unfortunately, I didn’t save much room for dessert, the most notable of which was the gateau Basque, an almond cake filled with cherries, or sometimes, in the southwest of France, a custard cream. But I did have a few squares of the house nougat, soft as the one you get in Montelimar, where nougat originated, and several strawberries. I passed on the lemon tart, but not without regret. My wife informed me that it was wonderful.
Comme Ca, steadily, has built itself into what I think is our best casual French bistro. I love their Daily Specials, and they have one of the two or three best burgers in the city. Myers told me he messed around with the grind for months to get it right.
Soon, I’ll be telling you about their new Gastropub Mondays menu. Can’t wait.
At the Cosmopolitan Las Vegas. 698-7000.
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