No sticky wicket here
Garfield’s takes a tasty trip around the world—from its lake-side perch
Thu, Sep 10, 2009 (midnight)
Photo: Beverly Poppe
Garfield Sobers, for whom new Summerlin restaurant Garfield’s was named, was considered one of the greatest cricketers who ever bashed a wicket. He played for the West Indies (aka Windies) during their glory years, and was knighted by Queen Elizabeth for his efforts.
Jean-David Groff-Daudet—call him JD—is a native of France’s Burgundy province, and I first ran into him at Pamplemousse on East Sahara, where he prepared my table a meal of his native dishes, such as oeufs en meurette (poached eggs in red wine sauce), and boeuf a la Bourguignon, the signature beef stew that Julia Child (Meryl Streep) prepares at the climax of the film Julie & Julia.
JD is now the chef at Garfield’s, a distinctly Caribbean-looking place in Desert Shores, which fronts a lake stocked with ducks he is not allowed to make into confit. Come to think of it, the eggs and stew aren’t on the menu here either, but that’s another conversation.
Garfield’s might just be the only place in the city that would look equally at home in Barbados, or somewhere in the vicinity of Key West. Its pale-blue and white woods are offset by lots of nautically themed paintings, and there are semi-circular, red-leather booths for those looking for an intimate evening.
Now that the weather is cooling, most visitors vie for tables on a spacious outdoor patio equipped with misting devices.
The menu is eclectic here, featuring French, Italian and American fare, and the chef drops in a few hints of North Africa and Asia along the way. I wouldn’t dream of coming here without the appetite to down a French pizza or two, which is called tarte flambee in its native Alsace, when they aren’t too busy using its unpronounceable-dialect name, flammekuche.
This dish ranks right up there with the pot sticker and spaghetti Carbonara as one of the great representatives of French peasant cuisine. So what is it, exactly? Well, it’s like white pizza, except that the “cheese” is crème fraîche, and the topping is bacon and onions—cracker thin, with a crisp, blackened bottom.
Starters here have their moments as well. The crab cakes are the one dish you might run into on Key West, and they are nicely executed, accompanied by a grainy mustard sauce. I rather like a dish the menu calls croquette of shrimp, but they are puffy, more like beignets, and a house-made tartar sauce that comes along for the voyage is estimable.
The “La Scala” chopped salad stands out. It’s composed of chickpeas, salami, cabbage, lettuce and mozzarella cheese, among other things, and has been a favorite at Beverly Hills restaurant La Scala for decades.
The chef plays it straight with most of his entrees—organic rotisserie chicken, for instance, and several steaks—but there are one or two creations that allow him to test his mettle. I actually had the crispy seven-hour leg of lamb twice, and liked it better the second time, perhaps because I knew what to expect. You won’t get a hunk of meat, but rather, a Tunisian-style brik, or phyllo pastry pie, inside of which the meat has been minced and seasoned with harissa, a Tunisian pepper sauce. Also on the menu is stuffed Pacific halibut, a ring of the fish with a pink center that is, in fact, a salmon and shrimp, doused with a classic champagne sauce. Oh, you’re such a show-off.
If you love stinky cheeses, as I do, then you might try the Epoisses cheese tart, served warm, for dessert. This stuff will put hair on your chest, and if you already have some, it will take it off. I’d also recommend the fairly standard chocolate soufflé with crème Anglaise, if you’re on a date, or the pistachio macaroon with a raspberry filling, if you’re dining alone.