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Dining in Las Vegas: Part 2

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We hoped to dine at two other Japanese restaurants that evening, but alas they didn't have even a speck of space we could stand on and eat our sashimi. Now that was a good thing for two reasons--we would have dropped our fish on the floor and secondly, business was booming at both of these off-Strip restaurants and that is a very, very good thing.

A few years back, my friend John introduced Las Vegas to a cutting-edge restaurant that was quickly gaining favor with Chefs who flocked there after dinner service for late-night bites. Since opening, Raku http://www.eatinglv.com/2008/07/raku-rocks/ has garnered nominations of James Beard Awards and the reservation book is full nearly two months in advance. Our feeble attempt to get a table didn't pay off however.

We trekked on to Yonnaka, billed as "modern Japanese," http://www.eatinglv.com/2013/02/yonaka-modern-japanese-even-more-modern-er/. Contemporary, modern, whatever, again the place was packed and although the host was terribly apologetic she couldn't find a spot for us, we felt like bad cousins that showed up at the last minute. Now you would think this place was not noticed by the tourists a few miles away on the Strip--until three cabs showed-up and dropped off a party of 4 and a party of 9--and this was at 9:30 p.m. Word has spread.

Not yet willing to give-up, we returned to the strip mall that houses Raku to have dessert at "Raku Sweets," http://www.eatinglv.com/2013/08/how-sweet-it-is/, the new, (as in opened in August), jewel box Sister restaurant serving French-influenced desserts. The concept at Raku Sweets is similar to what you'll find at L'Atelier by Joel Robuchon--you sit at a counter close enough to shake the hand of the Chef and watch the assembly of each dish. The tools of the artist are arrayed in front of you as you watch simply white plates become works of art. The head Pastry Chef is a young Japanese woman trained in Italy and Tokyo--producing a level of French pastry and confections that is every bit as good as what you'd find at the houses of Ducasse, Gagnaire, Robuchon and Savoy. I know. I've eaten at all the eponymous restaurants in Las Vegas that the dishes at Raku Sweets rival the best.

Still to come, a private dinner at Le Cirque and an unexpected table guest, a good pizza on the Strip is uncovered and we taste the most special steak on the Strip, (a Steak aged for darn near three times as long as most).

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How were the mini-sandwiches?

Also, I've read that the people behind Le Cirqure popularized the now ubqiutous Pasta Priamavera Sauce. I've also read that it was someone else. Do they care?

Well, I can share some first-hand family knowledge of the issue of Le Cirque creating "Pasta Primavera." On Saturday night, (review coming), I sat next to a member of the Maccioni family at a private dinner at Le Cirque Las Vegas, and as fate would have it, the subject of Captains and Waiters cooking dishes in the dining room came up, as did the subject of pasta primavera.

Apparently sometime back in the early 70's or so, Sirio Maccioni was working with a partner, a Chef who controlled the kitchen while Sirio led the service team in the front of the house. Sirio had concocted a dish of pasta and vegetables at home one Sunday for his family, and he started cooking it for friends. As the tale was told, that eventually led Sirio to tell the Chef of this dish that was getting rave reviews and Sirio proposed cooking, tossing and serving the dish in the dining room at the tables. The Chef sniffed, snooted and snuffed and refused to indulge Mr. Maccioni--so he instructed the service staff to do it anyway and thus this ubiquitous dish became an American standard.

To this day, pasta primavera is plated in the dining room at Le Cirque in New York. But there's another twist to the story. It's not on the regular menu. The regular menu has upwards of 32 or so listed items on any given night. However, the "off-menu" items, (over 40 in total), like pasta primavera and a whole roast chicken studded with black truffle and carved tableside are always available on request. (A kind way of saying if you are a regular at this eponymous palace, you shall have your pasta and vegetables, albeit for a lofty sum). Of course, given the occasion and my seatmate, I indulged in the story and found it quite fascinating. Whether it's true or is the stuff of culinary legend.

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. . . .

Was this a sweet, inthe stricter sense of the word, or was it almost savoury? Consistency of the carrot-pumpkin mousse?

Definately sweet. One minor criticism of the French, in my opinion, is that they are heavy-handed with the sugar. A few bites is enough. The mousse, like all the mousse and custards at Jean Philippe, is incredibly silken but with a firm body. I'm always in amazement at how they can infuse such intense flavor into what appears on first glance to be vanilla pudding. Delicious.

Thanks, Dave, I really do enjoy knowing what the inside of this sort of thing is like ;)

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On Saturday night I attended a private dinner hosted by Le Cirque, (http://www.bellagio.com/restaurants/le-cirque.aspx) and Louis Roderer Champagne. The dinner was actually served in the private dining room at Circo, (http://www.bellagio.com/restaurants/circo.aspx) next door to Le Cirque. Sadly, after nearly 15 years at Bellagio, Circo will shutter in the coming months. But not to worry, the Maccioni family will still have a strong presence in Las Vegas with Sirio restaurant at Aria and Le Cirque, whose lease have just been renewed for another 5 years.

Thirty five very fortunate guests were escorted into the stunning private dining room, an intimate, elegant space reminiscent of Downton Abbey, set with 4 tables each seating ten guests. The tables were laid with the finest china, linens, silverware and what appeared to be upwards of 8 crystal glasses at each place setting. The center of each table was crowned with a magnum of the finest vintage Cristal Champagne. The one exception I make in NOT taking photos in a restaurant is when I dine at Le Cirque. From a technical standpoint, the low-lighting isn't really conducive to the best food photography, but more importantly for me is the experience. I'd rather give myself up to the food and service rather than fuss over a silly little digital camera, and, given the ambience and mood of an eponymous restaurant, I figure I should be on my best manners. Sometimes a written review is the most tempting review.

I've never been to Le Cirque in New York, but I imagine the service is exactly the same as the service in Las Vegas, tenured professionals who've spend a lifetime perfecting their craft. The multi-cultural Staff at Le Cirque Las Vegas represents Russia, France, Spain, Italy and America--and a level of service that is nearly forgotten. For our dinner, we had the best of the best, Ivo Angelov, the gracious General Manager of Le Cirque Las Vegas, and his team of Captain's, Waiter's, Sommelier's, Busboys, Bread Servers and Napkin Attendees. The service at Le Cirque is what I remember from the Continental dining years of the 1970's, no detail goes unnoticed, (like pulling the chair of the ladies when they excuse themselves, bringing a fresh, crisp, folded linen at the table), yet the service is not pretentious or fawning, (you will not hear the words "Hi guys, my name is Todd").

The party was hosted by the Maccioni family and Frederic Rouzaud, CEO of Louis Roderer, who flew in from France specifically for this event. Mr. Rouzaud is just the latest member of his family to run the business, which goes back something like 7 generations.

But the star of this brigrade was the Chef, a young man of Taiwanese descent who looks all of 25 years old, (and he isn't much older than that). Chef Paul Lee graduated from culinary school in Los Angeles just 7 years ago in 2006. Imagine, 7 years out of trade school and the young man garners the post of Executive Chef at Le Cirque. His career path has been on an upward spiral from the start with position at L'Orangerie in Los Angeles, and Joel Robuchon at the MGM. In 2009, he headed to New York and worked in the kitchen at Veritas, then realigned himself with Robuchon at L'Atelier de Robuchon at the Four Seasons New York.

In 2011, no doubt owing in part to his exemplary resume, the Maccioni family introduced Chef Lee to Le Cirque Las Vegas as Sous Chef. Last year, when former Chef Gregory Pugin suprisingly announced his return to his native France, Chef Lee was promoted to his present, fortunate position.

As soon as I sat down, Ivo came up and gently took me by the arm, "Mr. Ross, we have a seat for you over at this table. I have a special guest that will be joining you." I have to say I couldn't help but be nervous with anticipation of who the "guest" would be. After greetings with the other guests at our table, Marco Maccioni came to the table and sat down at the heralded seat of the host. Next to me. The guy from Spokane. For the next four hours, we had the memorable experience of having dinner with one of the sons of Sirio Maccioni, (http://www.lecirque.com/history) as he regaled us with the history and tales of one of the greatest restaurant families in America.

The food, while at the level one would expect, was tempered by not being bold enough in terms of distinctive flavors and seasonings. A food writer friend of mine recently coined a phrase to describe the cooking of Chef Lee, "it's like the beautiful woman across the room who looks at you and winks.............then leaves." The foie gras wasn't the distinct livery flavor one expects, the sea urchin a bit pallid and tempered rather than bold, briny flavor of a creature who lives in tidepools. The chocolate globe, garnished with gold leaf, set the stage for Las Vegas, but it was literally too large and set off to float in a lake of hot chocolate sauce that was poured over the orb. The wine pours could have been more generous, a second round of Port. But friends, these are but minor quibbles given the occasion, the wines and the company. Chef Paul will hit his stride as he moves forward in his career. He'll fine that balance, that line, yet he won't cross it. It shall take time.

In terms of the wines, four different vintages of Cristal in one dinner is enough to send you into a sort of champagne stupor, each vintage showing a bit more fruit as we aged from 2004, to 2002, 1996 and finally 1993. The Pauillac served with the beef course is also an entity of the Roderer Company, as is the Ramos Pinto Tawny Port served with the chocolate.

Foie Gras Creme Brulee-

Hudson Valley Foie Gras Creme Brulee,

Passion Fruit Mousse, Granny Smith Apple

Louis Roderer "Cristal" Brut, 2004

L'Oursin de Santa Barbara-

Santa Barbara Sea Urchin, Yuzu Gelee,

Panna Cotta, Fennel Cream, Osetra Caviar,

Seaweed and Sesame Tuile

Louis Roderer "Cristal" Brut, 2002

Les Langoustines Roties et Sabayon d'Agrumes-

Roasted New Zealand Langoustines, Jamon Iberico,

Asparagus, Parmesan, Petite Mustard Greens,

Citrus Sabayon, Jus de Veau

Louis Roderer "Cristal" Brut, 1996

Le Turbot d'Atlantique-

Wild Atlantic Turbot, Baby Leeks, Braised Celery,

Artichoke, Rutabaga, Lardon, Vitelotte Potato,

Barigoule Sauce

Louis Roderer "Cristal" Brut, 1993

L'Entrecote de Boeuf Wagyu Australian-

Australian Wagyu Kobe Beef Ribeye,

Pommes Diamond, Caramelized Salsify,

Celeraic Puree, Black Trumpets, Bordelaise Sauce

Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande, Pauillac 2000

Petite Boule de Chocolat, Eclats de Voisette Caramelisee,

Glace Chocolat Blanc-

Chocolate Ball: Praline Mousse, White Chocolate Ice Cream,

Hazelnut Caramel Crunch, Chocolate Sauce

Ramos Pinto 20 Year Tawny Port

To end the evening, a precious little jewel box that we have seen before. It holds forth two small truffles, one dark, one white. Another memory of dinner at Le Cirque. I should like to think, that along with having a tattered recipe for "Pommes Puree" signed by Joel Robuchon, my dinner with Marco Maccioni will be an evening I shan't forget.

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Today nov 3 and the nov26th... Marche Bacchus. For lunch... They are offering a prix fixe testing menu for 30 dollars. For three courses and you get to taste 10 wines..

Pretty good deal

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Just returned from a week in Vegas for the eG Chocolate workshop.  

 

Raku - Impressive but a few major gaffs (overcooked scallop, ultra boney fish) in my book.  We did the omakase/tasting. Certainly worth a visit.

Lotus of Siam - As amazing as everyone says - that crispy rice...swoon...

HoneySalt - we had a special menu for the group and it was all okay.  I'd like to try it again ordering off the regular menu to give them another shot.  Cocktails were interesting good.

Cafe de Cebu - lucked into it and really a hit for me.  Great lechon and super helpful staff (http://www.cafedecebu.com)

Tacos Pastorcito - good old street food just on the northside of downtown.  Pastor Ranchero was delish as was the crowd!  (http://www.yelp.com/biz/taqueria-el-pastorcito-las-vegas)

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Raku...I would suggest.. To just do just oamaksi.. Protein.. 2-3 choices..then go off the board

I'm doing Ramen.. My next visit

Probably think Chada..as something..as opposed to LOS


Edited by Paul Bacino (log)

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Anyone planning a Las Vegas trip may want to try out the new Daniel Boulud Brasserie in Las Vegas. I'm hearing good reviews for the first weeks of service. 

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Anyone heading to Vegas that is in to Sichuan Food, i highly recommend Yunnan Garden.  I get to vegas for like 10 days, twice a year,  that is always one of my go tos.

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6873897340_6c607250d0.jpg

Heads:

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Peanuts and sweet dried fish:

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Sichuan Dumplings sitting in spicy sauce: Soft dumplings with pork. House made skins were super delicate but, yet held together.. There was hints of sesame oil.. Delicious:

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Spicy cumin lamb with green bell pepper, jalapeño, scallion, sichuan and red chiles.The lamb was sliced in strips and covered with cumin, then wok tossed with these peppers. Holy cow, if I just ate this dish I would have been so happy with the dinner.. The lamb was so tasty, the best cumin lamb I have had. 

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Sliced fried fish tossed with chile peppers: Unbelievable.
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A large bowl of rice:

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Fried spareribs.. Here the ribs still had a little bone. The ribs were fried and got to the temperature where all the sinew and fat liquified. There was a little bone that easily disconnected from the meat with a some little mouth work. Again tossed with peppers. It was amazing how many of the dishes appeared to have the same preparation but, were so uniquely different. 

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Eggplant.. It was served piping hot, the eggplant was super melty. The sugars came out of the eggplant and it was just so wonderful. One of the better eggplants dishes I have had in a long time.. It was just so expertly prepared. I love eggplant but there is such a margin of error for me that often times I am left very disappointed. This was perfection.

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You have to have some greens:

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I am almost embarrassed to admit how much the three of us ate. There were two dumplings, a little eggplant, some greens and then just plates of dried chile peppers left over. I wish i lived closer to this place, i would probably go here once a week. Service was so nice, prices were very reasonable. I can't wait to go back and try the numerous dishes that we had to pass on. I have eaten with these people all over China and we have unanimously decided this was among the best places we have eaten.

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beef shin, tripe and sour vegetables.


 


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peanuts with fish, cucumbers and super spicy chicken.


 


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Sliced fish and tofu


 


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Pea shoots and cumin lamb. 


 


awesome dinner.  place was bumping.

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I would also highly recommend against going to B and B.. I have tried it three times now.. Have spent tons of dough, it has been bad each time.  Why go three times you ask?  I have forgotten I had been there, each time.. It was spaced out of over the course of a few years..  I think this time, I am finally going to remember i have been there..  


Edited by basquecook (log)

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I've eaten at B&B two times in the past 4-5 years and always had a good meal.  I like Babbo, and thought the food was just as good (even some same dishes) and the atmosphere is better without the louder rock music atmosphere.  

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i had really horrific service while i was there last time.. our waiter was just out to lunch in every way.. we were flagging down random servers walking through the room.. We ordered perhaps 70 percent of the menu and things were inedible.. they cooked a rabbit so poorly that it turned to mush.. I don't know how the did it.. Things were salty.  I remember an octopus dish was good.. But, i think before tip, it was well over 200 bucks a head for the 2 of us and we were so disappointed.. i have been going to Babbo since the first month it opened and can't compare the two.   though, i have been only a few times so, it could have all been coincidentally off nights. 


Edited by basquecook (log)

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Just to clarify Basquecook, the place that had horrific service etc was Brasserie Boulud?

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b and b was the place that was terrible, the batali restaurant in the palazzo/ venetian. 


Edited by basquecook (log)

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Dining is Las Vegas is the one thing you must add to your to do list in Vegas.The food can be of every type from seafood to japanese sushi, from chicken to veg burgers from italian to mexican , everything at it's best is available in Las Vegas.

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Basquecook where is Yunnan garden located?? sounds and looks great!

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I just found this thread, I can add a post or two here.

 

I've lived in Las Vegas for the past eight years and was quite the eater around 2014-2015, going to all the restaurants with reckless abandon. That was four years ago, which is an eternity in restaurant years, but I can still give some recommendations from back then.

 

Nowadays, I mostly eat at home. I just got back from a week-long business trip and I realized that I've become "that f@$k#n woman!" I can't tolerate anything but sublime amazement from any dining experience. But I'm sure my fellow eGullet members can appreciate that. Unfortunately, that means I never eat out and when I do, it needs to be damn-near-amazing.

 

I've briefly read through some of these posts and they're on point. However there's a difference between where tourists eat and where locals eat. Although I do eat on the Strip occasionally (some locals never do) I tend to avoid the Strip and eat in the nearby burbs. We're very blessed because this city is full of excellent chefs, and when they decide to open their own place after years of fine dining, they tend to go to the burbs. So you'll never see me recommending Lotus of Siam (although it's awesome), but I'll recommend Penn's Thai in Henderson.

 

So let's start...


Edited by Smokeydoke (log)

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Suzuya Patisserie - this is a local gem, right in my neighborhood. They are Japanese-run and owned but they focus on French pastries. I go here at least once a month and I've never had a bad experience, they've almost been all good, sprinkled in with some "meh" experiences. I highly recommend their "life-changing" apple pies (John Curtas' words, not mine) and their Japanese cheesecake. This month, their cake-of-the-month is the Mont Blanc, made with chestnut cream. It was decadent but not my favorite cake. I should mention the pastries are more Asian in taste and not as sweet as true French cakes. They also have made-to-order crepes, which are excellent, but I haven't gotten in years, because seriously, crepes are not hard to make at home.

 

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Apple pie a la mode in front, Mont Blanc in the back.

 


Edited by Smokeydoke (log)
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This is kinda cruel to post, because it just passed and won't happen again till next year, but every Chinese New Year, Wing Lei has an amazing dim sum brunch. Wing Lei is the upscale Chinese restaurant at the Wynn, it was the first Chinese restaurant in the US to be awarded a Michelin star (although Michelin is no longer in Vegas). I went back in 2014, it was quite the experience.

 

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Cold bar with lobster claws and prawns.

 

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Various assortment of dim sum.

 

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Pork belly and duck. That was the best pork belly I've ever had. The skin just shattered in your mouth.

 

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Shanghai prawns and Chile Beef Tenderloin.

 

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Five star spice cake and yuzu cake pops.

 

If they do it again next year, I highly recommend it. It was truly one of my "grand" meals and an experience I won't forget. 

 

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15 hours ago, Smokeydoke said:

I just found this thread, I can add a post or two here.


I've lived in Las Vegas for the past eight years and was quite the eater around 2014-2015, going to all the restaurants with reckless abandon. That was four years ago, which is an eternity in restaurant years, but I can still give some recommendations from back then.

 

 

I save up for a couple of years so I can eat wondrous food at Le Cirque, Twist and other places in Vegas. Just back from mostly wondrous experiences there. Not sure if I  can post this here, but my Vegas trip is here: http://seemrealland.blogspot.ca/


Edited by Smithy Moved new post out of quote box, at poster's request (log)

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