Even in the dog days of summer, the food scene here is as lively as it is during the peak tourism season. François Payard, the pastry and chocolate genius who has a venue at Caesars Palace, recently unveiled a dinner menu in his tiny, wedding-cake-like dining room, and it’s killer. Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro has been open for breakfast and lunch since it opened, and it reopens for dinner in early September.
Just a few dishes you will be eating include a mini-cheese soufflé and quenelles de poisson Lyonnaise (fish dumplings in lobster sauce with a cloud-light texture). Main courses will include roast chicken on a bed of Yukon Gold potatoes with leeks and olives, and fall-off-the-bone-tender short ribs. Call 731-7110 near month’s end to make a reservation.
Oppressive prices on Strip wine lists can be discouraging, but there are a few ways to get the best out of them. I was recently at Aureole at Mandalay Bay, for example, and there are wine bargains if you know how to look for them. Generally speaking, the markups are stiffer on the lower-end wines, so skip that section. You can also contact the sommelier ahead of time to get the list e-mailed to you, so you can comparison shop. Or just ask the somm to find you a good deal. A guy like William Sherer, Aureole’s wine director, loves to find wines that are good and affordable.
Meanwhile, I’ve been spending a fair bit of time at the Polish Deli, 5700 W. Charleston Blvd., a clean, bright place stocked with a staggering variety of breads, chocolates and dry goods from Poland. It is also a wonderful place to buy fresh sausages, some that need to be cooked, such as classic Polish sausages from a Chicago butcher, and ones that don’t, such as kabanos, a dry sausage resembling a giant Slim Jim.
I’m totally hooked on this stuff. You get about four feet of meaty, garlicky sausage, and at $5.95 a pound, it’s an incredible deal.
Healthier eating is what you’ll get at Elixir (9550 S. Eastern Ave., Suite 180, 565-2233), a new organic café that has just opened in Richmar Plaza. The menu features salads, wraps and sandwiches, natural teas, and fruit smoothies made with a base of either ice or probiotic yogurt. All recipes rely on organic ingredients. There are options for vegetarians, but the café is non-vegetarian. Meats are from Applegate Farms and produced without preservatives, hormones or nitrates.
In addition, this large complex offers a full line of products promoting a healthy lifestyle, including beauty and wellness items, herbs sold in bulk and whole-leaf teas.
Follow Max Jacobson’s latest epicurean observations, reviews and tips at foodwinekitchen.com.