Cigar Aficionado

Palace Court, Caesar's Palace, Las Vegas

Render unto Cae....oops, it's easy to forget that you're not walking alongside the Parthenon in Rome, in white robes, as you stroll into Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas. The fantasy atmosphere of gambling's mecca makes it easy to get carried away, and many die-hard gamblers do. But today, the town that cards built is more than just a paradise for losing money. It has become a "family" resort, complete with amusement park-style hotels, huge video game parlors and even outstanding places to eat. Whether it's another branch of Spago, The Palm, Morton's or Mark Miller's Coyote Cafe, Las Vegas has become an eating town. And no place shows off the top end of the dining experience better than the Palace Court at Caesar's Palace.

Though only 30 years old, chef Laurent Tourondel has chalked up a résumé that would be the envy of many veterans. He's trained under the tutelage of the Troisgros brothers at their three-star haven in Roanne, France, as well as the two-star master Jacques Maximin at Ledoyen in Paris; and he's recently worked with Joël Robuchon in Paris. While his menu touches on all the essential French cuisine classics--escargot, lobster bisque, onion soup, Dover sole with lemon butter--he also ventures into more exotic dishes. A recent meal included a perfectly prepared dish of escargots in a garlic-and-herb butter, a medium-rare venison steak and a delightfully light soufflé for dessert.

The wine list is worthy of this high-roller retreat. The list includes a wide range of vintages of all the first-growth Bordeaux as well as rare Pomerols such as Pétrus and Le Pin. In addition, the list has unusual offerings such as the great Spanish wine, Vega Sicilia Unico, as well as great Italian labels such as Ornellaia and Sassicaia. American wines, too, are well represented, with Cabernets from Silver Oak and Spottswoode, meritage wines from Opus One and Pahlmeyer, and whites, including Kistler and Beringer Reserve. French white wines are extraordinarily well chosen, with top white Burgundy producers such as Sauzet, Domaine Leflaive and François Jobard. But more interestingly, the list includes some less common whites, such as Haut-Brion, Savennieres Clos de la Couleé de Serrant, Madame Joly and a Chateau Grillet from the Rhone Valley.

The restaurant is cigar-friendly, but it asks patrons to smoke in the Palace Court Terrace, a large bar-like area at the entrance to the dining area. With its two-story ceiling, the Terrace more than provides the properly grandiose setting for a relaxed smoke after a grand meal. You can also indulge in a choice of fine after-dinner drinks such as a Remy Martin Louis XIII Cognac, a 1970 Graham Port, an 1875 Malvazia Madeira and a 1945 Sempe Armagnac.

All in the spirit of a fine meal at Caesar's feet. 

Palace Court, Caesar's Palace
3570 Las Vegas Boulevard
Phone (702) 731-7110
Dinner $120 for two, without wine