Foxwoods, America’s largest resort-casino, has no shortage of solid upscale dining options, including steakhouse David Burke Prime and Italian spot Al Dente. But its highest-end offering is also its most unexpected: a white tablecloth French restaurant called Vue 24, perched on the 24th floor of the Grand Pequot Tower.
The spacious, sunlight-filled restaurant offers spectacular views of the surrounding woodlands, giving you the impression that you’re much higher-up than 24 stories. Guests are greeted by a large circular bar that’s dominated by a huge two-story globe (the second story, up a curving flight of stairs, is the under-the-radar high-limit table game Stargazer Casino), and beyond that is a spacious and elegant dining room. Tables are well-spaced and draped with white tablecloths, lighting is dim, flowers are ample, a pianist is playing familiar tunes, and the room is presided over by general manager and sommelier Jan Sedlak, previously of Manhattan’s Aureole and Daniel, so you know you’ll be in very good hands.
If it’s not already clear that this is a very high-end restaurant, one look at the menu should make that clear. Straight-ahead “Continental” French cuisine isn’t exactly in vogue these days, and to offer a menu of traditional upscale French dishes is considered downright daring in this era of chefs inventing dishes on the fly. But lobster bisque, steak tartare, foie gras terrine, escargots, coquille St. Jacques, boeuf Bourguignon, duck a l’orange, trout Grenobloise, veal Oscar, chateaubriand (for two, carved tableside), and steak Diane all make appearances on the menu, alongside grass-fed ribeye and filet mignon from Utah’s Painted Hills Farm, two foie gras preparations, caviar, shellfish towers, butter-poached lobster, steamed king crab, rack of lamb, and Berkshire pork chop with Braeburn apples and Calvados. Fine dining took a turn from the French and more towards New American decade ago, but it makes a very welcome return here.
One of the reasons why French fine dining became scarce over the years is because those time-honored dishes faded in the hands of unskilled chefs. Duck a l’orange became overcooked duck breast in a cloyingly sweet sauce, for example. Thankfully, that’s not the case here, where the duck a l’orange is elevated by burnt orange Grand Marnier sauce and coffee-scented duck breast. The short ribs in the boeuf Bourguignon are fall-apart and insanely flavorful. Steaks are perfectly cooked, with a deep crust and a with a wide variety of styles and toppings available including Rossini (foie gras, brioche croutons, truffle sauce), roasted bone marrow butter and smoked sea salt, au poivre, Béarnaise, bordelaise, red wine, peppercorn, or truffle sauce. Veal Oscar, arguably the menu’s main showstopper, replaces the usual cutlets with a perfectly cooked veal loin, topped with a generous portion of king crab and shaved lightly cooked asparagus, served atop pools of veal reduction and Béarnaise. It’s about as luxurious as it gets, and a masterpiece. And for dessert, of course, a chocolate fondue with the option of several sauces was spot-on.
If I seem overly fawning, it’s only because it’s well-deserved. Fine dining these days is becoming more and more casual and chef-driven, but it’s nice to be occasionally reminded of what made fine dining fine dining for the first seven or so decades of the last century. When done properly, it can be truly spectacular.