Cleo (SLS), Las Vegas, NV
This was Adam and my second time visiting SLS Las Vegas, and we had heard nothing but great reviews about their restaurants. On this night we went to Cleo, a Mediterranean restaurant that boasts a beautiful open kitchen with white marble counters and a brick oven as the center piece. Because we were only having dessert, we opted to sit at the bar top. With all the hype surrounding this restaurant, we were both a little disappointed with the presentation and taste of their desserts. Based on the menu’s descriptions, the desserts seemed to have so much potential but somewhere they fell short on execution.
This dessert was pretty good. The apples were sliced and had just the right amount of bite to them. The apples seemed to have been seared on the outside and finished in a cinnamon caramel. The torte was excellent. It had great flaky texture and broke apart easily with your spoon. The balance between the warm, flaky torte, the crunch of the caramelized apples and a spoon of vanilla bean ice cream was perfect. The vanilla bean ice cream melts into the apple torte to create a creamy cinnamon caramel sauce (you can see the ice cream melting in the carmel in the photo below, doesn’t that look good?). I mean who doesn’t love vanilla bean ice cream with cinnamon caramel apples? Yes it is a classic successful, combination of flavors, but, at the end of the day, all of the components must be on point in their execution for it to be a great dessert.
This was recommended as one of the bartender’s favorite desserts, but I do not believe she gave us a totally accurate description of the dessert because when I ate it I was taken aback. The bar was cold. It felt like it could have been a play on an ice cream bar but it was very light and soft. Inside the bar is an airy white cream and a layer of a soft chocolate brownie covered in dark chocolate. On top of the saber bar is candied orange peel, which was very overpowering by itself. However, the combination of the peel and saber is the desserts’ only redeeming moment. The citrus really brings a pop of flavor, otherwise the dessert is just light with a limited, one-noted flavor.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
This is another classic dessert that usually cannot be done wrong, but it failed on every level for me. In my review of Cleo’s Apple Torte, I said it was a classic combination of flavors but it worked because the components were delicious. The Flourless Chocolate Cake is a molten cake or lava cake as some would call it. A molten cake is suppose to be baked fully on the outside and when you cut into it, a flavored sauce oozes out of the cake. Always a crowd pleaser. This dessert went wrong in its execution. The cake was very bitter, not sweet and was extremely dry and over baked, which was why barely any chocolate sauce oozed out of this “molten cake”. Paired with the flourless cake was a roasted banana, skin on, which I found very random and weird. Why not prepare a roasted sliced caramelized banana? That combination would have been a better presentation in my opinion than a banana with its peel still on. I had to use my fingers to get the skin off just to taste the banana, and it got a little messy. I’m okay with working for my dessert but this just wasn’t worth it. However, the vanilla bean ice cream paired well with the cake and was the only good thing about this dessert. I hate to say it but Chili’s Molten Chocolate Cake is better than this….
Amaretto Panna Cotta
This is one of the desserts that had so much potential, and I was so excited to try it because one, I love panna cotta, two, I love amaretto and figs – which are all very Italian. The panna cotta was not what I believe to be the proper consistency. Excuse me for this reference, but a chef once told me a panna cotta is suppose to jiggle like a boob……this panna cotta did not jiggle. It was too solid and condensed so that immediately turned me off. The panna cotta was vanilla bean and had a thin layer of amaretto syrup on top. Although it was a thin layer, it was very strong with a touch of sweetness but once you get a spoonful of the vanilla bean panna cotta, you start to lose the strong flavor of amaretto syrup in the sweetness and creaminess of the vanilla. Like I previously stated I love figs and amaretto syrup but, in this dessert, the figs get completely lost in the panna cotta. Lastly, the almond brittle was such a huge cluster that I had to pick it up with my hands just to take a bite, and it was not delightful. Individually a few of the components were great but when combined the flavors and textures do not work together. I think Cleo has a trend with their desserts, don’t you?