By: Bob Gourley
Fine dining has taken a hit of late. People are in a hurry these days and just can’t wait to grab something quick and get on their way.
But a place for elegant service, gracious amenities and traditional food lives right here in Vegas. Hugo’s Cellar at the Four Queens Hotel continues to please picky diners looking for something a little special.
I have wanted to visit Hugo’s for 20 years. It always seems as though the timing wasn’t right. But on a recent Sunday night my wife and I finally got to indulge.
As you enter the tastefully decorated space located a floor below the hustle and bustle of the casino, the first tradition was the presentation of a long-stemmed rose to my spouse, a gift every female receives. After being greeted by an affable waiter, it was time to select the food for the evening.
The cuisine is a throwback to an earlier time, large portions and traditional dishes you probably grew up with.
Lobster Bisque is loaded with chunks of shellfish immersed in cream. Escargot e Croute features six plump snails sautéed in shallots, garlic, burgundy wine and fine herbs with a puff pastry topping. Grilled Stuffed Portobello Mushroom Caps are filled with gorgonzola.
Each meal comes with an assortment of warm breads, cheese-toasted lavosh and Hugo’s table-side salad, which is a meal in itself. The waiter brings a well-stocked cart so he can create the salad to your order. Everything from hard-boiled eggs to anchovies is available.
Each entrée also arrives with fresh vegetables du jour and a choice of roasted garlic whipped potatoes, red potatoes with parsley or wild rice. They still serve an intermezzo, a small cone with sorbet to cleanse the pallet.
They are known for their steaks and the list would make any beef eater proud. There is a 16-ounce ribeye, a 10-ounce filet served with béarnaise sauce and slow-roasted prime rib.
Other classics include Chicken Champignon featuring a pan-roasted chicken breast topped with sautéed morel, shitake and Portobello mushrooms. The sauce smothers the chicken instead of sitting on the bottom, another throwback to an earlier time.
Duckling Anise Flambe is a unique treat as the meat is roasted with licorice spices and herbs that are prepared table-side. The Cellars Champion Chateaubriand and Lobster for two comes to the table with a 14-ounce roasted filet and two broiled lobster tails.
For dessert there are Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee for two along with an array of specialty sweets. The final act is a complimentary plate of white and dark chocolate-dipped strawberries, apricots and baby figs.
An extensive wine list features a large collection of wines by the glass and oh are they reasonable, with most under ten dollars. This was a big surprise that was well appreciated.
Hugo’s caters to an older crowd who still enjoys leisurely dining and great service. With all of the chain restaurants and fast casual places around, it is good to know you can still find a destination place that is perfect for anniversaries, birthdays or just about any other special occasion.
I won’t wait another 20 years to revisit.
Hugo’s Cellar, Open for dinner only. Reservations highly recommended. Four Queens Hotel and Casino, 202 Fremont St., Las Vegas. (702) 385-4011. www.hugoscellar.com.