Last year I took my wife to Fleur de Lys for her birthday and we had one of the best meals we’ve ever had. A year later, we’re back. Although now it’s just called Fleur and the concept has changed to a more casual eatery serving small plates (don’t call it tapas… it’s not a Spanish restaurant!).

They’ve got a larger “patio” and a central bar, along with a new facade that looks like part of a huge wicker picnic basket (I’m not a fan). The inside of the dining area is lighter — they stripped out all the curtains — and more open and replaced the roses mounted on the stone wall with corks. They were going with a casual feel and they got it. The space also felt a lot smaller than I remember.

Every dish we tried ranged from good to excellent:

Oysters ($10) – margarita sorbet, orange purée. 3 per order. The presentation is cool with the use of dry ice in a rectangular box with stones and seaweed. The sweetness of the sorbet and purée dominated any trace of the brininess or meatiness of the oysters. It was good, but an overly sweet way to start off the meal.

Crab and avocado sphere ($14) – watermelon gazpacho. Another sweet dish thanks to the avocado and watermelon. It was good, but could have used something more savory in it.

Tuna tacos ($11) – jalapeños, lime cilantro. Amazing! The big, fat chunks of tuna were so fresh and silky smooth. It was the perfect blend of hot and cold and soft and crunchy. I want a dozen of these to go!

Peking duck ($15) – greens, pearl onions, date purée. This is one duck dish that will make me forget about all others. Tender, juicy, rich and savory. And, the skin was crispy too. One bite with the other ingredients (that date purée was damn good) and I was in heaven.

Skirt steak ($15) – chimmichurri, roasted fingerling potato, creme fraiche. The greens, tomato, and potato were all good but the steak was a bit tough and chewy. My least favorite dish of the night.

Tiramisu ($8) – coffee-marsala ladyfinger, mascarpone, chocolate. I’m no expert at tiramisu, but this was delicious. So good I wanted to lick every last drop out of the dish.

For beverages, we had two glasses of wine, a Chimay Grande Reserve, and the best porter I’ve ever had — a Meantime London Porter. Sure, I don’t know much about beer, but it was amazing! It had a sweet, smokey taste and a really smooth finish.

The service was ok. Our waiter was working a few tables so we didn’t see him very often. The pace of the meal wasn’t bad, just a little on the slow side. We were celebrating my wife’s birthday and they did write happy bday on the tiramisu plate, but I was expecting, at the very least, some petit fours or some other complimentary item to end the meal. Maybe I was expecting too much but even at a place like Applebee’s don’t they give you something for free on your birthday?

I would definitely come here again to try other items (and order more tuna tacos and another porter or two). But, I would hope that the service picks up. This place is still a little rough around the edges, but very close to being a 5 star dining experience. We ended up spending $165 (incl. tax and tip). In this city and for that kind of food, that’s not bad. Too many times, at other restaurants, I’ve spent twice that for inferior food.

4 Stars

— Updated below: July 1, 2011 —

I’m bumping my rating up to 5 stars. I just love this place. I love the small plates concept and love the food. While there are some misses among the menu — and no restaurant is perfect — there are enough stellar dishes to make me want to come back again and again.

Onion soup shooters ($7) – velouté, truffle oil. There’s no doubt that this is the best onion soup I’ve ever had. And, there was enough for 6 shooters. Yeah, you drink it and don’t use a spoon. This is one item everyone should order.

Tarte flambé ($11) – onion, bacon, truffle, asparagus, creme fraiche. Good but not particularly memorable.

Maple glazed pork ribs ($14) – smoked to order. Beautiful presentation as they bring it out with a glass dome filled with smoke. The tiny ribs were good, although the sauce was a tad too thick and sweet. It almost acted like glue and sealed my mouth shut.

Braised short ribs ($26) – honey coriander glazed carrot, warm potato salad. Fork-tender and delicious. Loved it! Loved the potato salad that accompanied it.

Cheese platter ($16) – assortment of artisan cheeses. 4 cheeses (goat cheese, bleu cheese, and 2 others I can’t remember). All were fabulous and showed a nice variety of flavors and firmness. The accompaniments were wonderful, especially the candied pecans… damn, they were so good. I want a jar of them right now!

Service was good as usual (our waitress’s name was Dragana, I think?).

The best thing about the meal is that we got a gift certificate from restaurant.com for $100 (and only paid $8 for it)!!! What a great bargain. Our waitress said they won’t be on restaurant.com for much longer, so get some GC’s while you can.

5 Stars

Mandalay Bay
3950 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89119
(702) 632-9400

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