Alizé sings its siren song immediately upon entrance to the restaurant. Located on the 56th floor of the Palms Casino Resort, Alizé beckons with elegant décor, warm hospitality, and sophisticated French cuisine. Chef de Cuisine Mark Purdy delights guests with flawlessly executed culinary creations of fish, meat, and poultry of classical French preparation. Alizé is managed under the guidance of famed Las Vegas Chef André Rochat, who introduced fine cuisine to Las Vegas over 20 years ago, back when the city enticed gamblers through meal deals rather than delectable dining.
In true French fashion, Alizé casts its bewitchment not just through its fine food, but also through its vast selection of exceptional wines, selected by Sommelier Alain Visinoni. With its impressive list of 1,800 labels, numbering 8,000 bottles, Alizé is a connoisseur’s delight. Visinoni offers impressive wine pairings that combine with Chef Purdy’s impeccably presented and prepared fine French cuisine to create a memorable dining experience. Paired with stunning panoramic views of the tantalizing and twinkling allure of Vegas from the restaurant’s building-top location, Alizé conjures up an intoxicating blend of food, wine and atmosphere.
After winding our way through the cavernous ground floor casino of the Palms Resort, we eventually ended up at Alizé’s gateway – the elevator to the 56th floor. Perhaps the trickiest part of reaching Alizé is figuring out how to circumnavigate Palms’ casino floor. For the most direct path to the restaurant, guests should park in the smaller parking structure on the southern side of the hotel rather than the main garage on the northern side of the hotel.
As soon as we exited the elevator onto the restaurant floor, we were entranced. Styled with glossy parquet floors, rich cognac-hued wainscoting, and spacious glass cabinetry, Alizé’s hallway entrance dazzled us with its lustrous wood paneling and reflected light from cognac and port bottles. Alizé manager Stavros Georgiou warmly greeted us and escorted us to our table, a delightful spot alongside floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out upon the city and desert landscapes of Las Vegas.
Our table, as with those around us, was elegantly draped with two layers of heavy cream linen that cascaded to the floor. The table was set with burnished silverware and stemware for red and white wine. Settings featured an oversized, square “placeholder” of antiqued finished black china embellished with a voluptuous flower motif. Nestled up against the tables were club chairs richly upholstered in two fabrics: one a lush burgundy velvet and the other a geometric patterned brocade of cream and mauve complementing the burgundy carpet.
Alizé’s main, and only, dining room was rectangular and scattered with tables for two and four with a few for six and one large table for eight. The room, paneled in gleaming light oak and mellow cherry, was high ceiled and colored a pale blush. Adorning the walls were graceful lily-shaped sconces and some art nouveau style paintings. Overall, while the room was modern, it had a slight art deco feel, perhaps due to the room’s clean lines, recessed ceiling and color palette. Off center, like another decoration, was the famed wine cellar: a glass and dark wood framed structure that revealed its treasured inhabitants. Wafting through the air, light jazz played at a volume suitably low for undisturbed table conversation.
Once seated, we were welcomed by our server Silvano who distributed the elegant trifold menus of parchment paper. Next, Alizé’s suave sommelier Alain Visinoni presented us with the voluminous wine list. Visinoni also offered to assist in pairing our wines with dinner and suggested the chef’s tasting menu. Since the tasting menu requires all table members to partake, we decided not to take advantage of this tempting option. However, we did accept Visinoni’s suggestion of a mis en bouche of Champagne: Chanteclaire, André’s Private Label, Villers-Marmery. It was a multi vintage, slightly dry with a subtle pear flavor.
We concluded that we could have exclusively dined on Alize’s appetizers, an inventive and delectable array of cold and hot selections of sufficient variety to make choosing a challenge. I eventually whittled my options down to Pan Seared Diver Scallops, while my dining companion opted for both the soup de jour, Main Lobster and Fennel Bisque, and Calamari Steak. For wine, we chose a crisp, dry 2006 Chenin Blanc, Ballentine, Napa Valley. Light with a slight mineral taste, the Chenin Blanc would complement our first course.
An amuse bouche was served while we waited for our appetizers. A shrimp ceviche presented in a dainty demitasse, it resonated with the piquant flavor of cilantro mixed in with minutely diced pieces of avocado, shrimp and salmon. With the tomato base adding a refreshing note and only a soupcon of olive oil, the ceviche was delightfully zesty yet delicate.
My diver scallops arrived resting on a gracious white china plate rimmed with golden scrollwork on black and edged in terra cotta. The scallops, a matched pair, were prepared to perfection with a crispy textured golden crust leaving with the meat tender yet firm. Adorning each scallop was a dollop of finely shredded carrot, transformed by syrupy balsamic for a slightly sweet flavor. The carrots contrasted well with the scallops, as did a bottom layer of moist corn galette with saffron. Transcending the dish was its decadent parmesan fondue which swirled around the scallops. Savory with bacon, the sauce balanced the light scallops with pungent richness.
My partner’s lobster bisque was presented in a translucent creamy white china tureen on a doilied saucer. The pumpkin-colored bisque was redolent with the heady aroma of rich lobster and fennel and a lusciously creamy concoction of full-bodied lobster flavor with undertones of sherry. The bottom of the tureen held a surprise of crispy puff pastry and seared scallop for an added fillip.
The calamari steak was sautéed to a golden hue, the tender steak combining the crunch of crust with the smoothness of white meat. Crispy fronds of fried potato strings which accompanied the steak were a playful addition. The slight sweetness from the brown butter sauce balanced well with the fish’s mild flavor.
To accompany my entrée, Roasted Colorado Rack of Lamb, I deferred to Sommelier Visinoni for my next selection. He suggested a 2004 Zinfandel from JC Cellars Arrowhead Mountain, Sonoma, commenting that the wine’s spicy nuance would complement the hearty chops. With one sip, I was entranced by the wine’s flavorful spice and medium body.
The rack of lamb was a masterpiece of presentation and preparation. Arrayed on a gleaming white china platter rimmed with the now-familiar gold scroll on black with terra cotta trim, three chops were upended on their sides, with filo-packaged shoulder confit and feta cheese interspersed between. Each chop rested on a truncated mesa of Merquez sausage and potato sandwiched by layers of papery spinach crepe. Pooled around the meat and crepes was velvety brown jus. The lamb was slightly tinged with pink and coated with a tangy crust of mixed herbs and mustard. Each bite offered a melody of taste from the robust lamb with fine herbs, the peppery bite of sausage, or tangy sharpness of feta. Bringing the flavor dimensions together was the mellow and slightly sweet jus. It was a superb dish.
My partner continued grazing off the appetizer menu with his next small plate, Scampi André. The succulent scampi was prepared in a rich cream sauce laced with slivers of basil and ladled over airy, yet crusty filo toast. The serving was sufficiently generous to satisfy a light appetite and eminently delectable. With his last dish, my dinner partner elected to finish off with another white wine, a smooth 2003 Groth Chardonnay, Napa Valley. Slightly tropical in taste without a trace of oakiness, the Groth was an excellent companion to the scampi.
We ended our evening with a decadent chocolate soufflé, an appropriate choice for a French restaurant. Proud and tall, dusted with a light coating of white powdered sugar, the soufflé was an elegant and light way to end our meal. Presented in a white ramekin plated on doilied double saucers, the dessert emitted whiffs of chocolate-scented steam. We dipped a spoon into the soufflé, breaking through its outer crust, and the dessert, alas as expected, collapsed under pressure. We next poured chocolate sauce into the small crater and with our first bite tasted the slight egginess of the custardy chocolate intensified by the smooth sauce. Delicieux!
We were pleasantly surprised with the unexpectedly appearance of petit fours on a lovely silver pedestal. The candies included handmade marshmallow, meringue, caramel and geleé. We popped each into our mouths. Who could resist!
As well, we will not be able to resist returning to Alizé, an indulgent culinary escape à la Français. Bon appetit!