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Dining in Las Vegas: Part 1

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some more of my observations after a week in Vegas

- Reservations are SO much easier than in NY, SF, or Boston. You can get in most places same day. This is really huge.

- Pastry is really lights out. The level of pastry here is so high everywhere. I don't think we had a disappointing pastry all week.

- Everything is so close together. you can easily walk to 20 great spots all within a few blocks. You won't get that in NY or Boston, (maybe in parts of SF).

- The copies didn't bother me so much. Is Cafe babareeba really better in Chicago? I don't know for sure, but having been to the one in Chicago, I do know the line is shorter in Vegas.

- the smoking though. It's everywhere, even in and around the 'no smoking' restaurants. I don't think 'soul' is missing in Vegas. I think it's the dulling of taste from not being able to breathe properly.


Edited by ejw50 (log)

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The smoking is what has me concerned too. I'm from NJ and so much of the area here is smoke free. I haven't been to Atlantic City in years so the smoke there doesnt effect me.

ejw50 -- Do tell more about the pastry please. Are you talking about pastry in restaurants for dessert or from pastry shops? Is so which ones. My heart beat a little bit faster just from reading the word "pastry." :wub:

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The smoking is what has me concerned too. I'm from NJ and so much of the area here is smoke free. I haven't been to Atlantic City in years so the smoke there doesnt effect me.

ejw50 -- Do tell more about the pastry please. Are you talking about pastry in restaurants for dessert or from pastry shops? Is so which ones. My heart beat a little bit faster just from reading the word "pastry."  :wub:

You'll find delicious pastries in both restaurants and shops on the Strip.

Two restaurants are the home to Pastry Chefs nominated for a 2009 James Beard Award-Restaurant Charlie at The Palazzo, (Chef Vanessa Garcia), and Michael Mina at Bellagio, (Chef Sarah Kowsikowski). I've had decadent desserts at Alex at The Wynn, Guy Savoy at Caesar's Palace, Daniel Boulud Brasserie and The Wynn and L'Atelier at the MGM. Those are just a few restaurants with outstanding desserts.

My favorite pastry shops are Payard Patisserie at Caesar's, Jean-Phillipe at Bellagio, Lenotre at Paris, the cannoli at Tintoretto Bakery at the shops at The Venetian, and the carrot cake at Canter's Deli at Treasure Island. These are great shops to pick-up something sweet to take back to the hotel room.

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Looking forward to hitting Vegas for the first time in June; I will be attending a trade show and will be there on my birthday, so I'll be wanting to find some place extra special to take myself that night.

Knowing I live in San Francisco and am fairly spoiled with good food and haute cuisine, I would love to know what anyone's ONE recommendation would be...

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Looking forward to hitting Vegas for the first time in June; I will be attending a trade show and will be there on my birthday, so I'll be wanting to find some place extra special to take myself that night.

Knowing I live in San Francisco and am fairly spoiled with good food and haute cuisine, I would love to know what anyone's ONE recommendation would be...

Oh my gosh! Another (Las) Vegan virgin!! :shock::shock:

I would recommend Joel Robuchon, as well as L'Atelier if you want a more casual setting. Guy Savoy at Caesar's provides a slightly better overall dining experience, Alex at the Wynn gets an honorable mention, but in terms of culinary creativity, I give the nod to Robuchon.

There are two places I'm planning to try: Restaurant Charlie at the Palazzo & Raku on Spring Mountain Rd.

I hope this helps, Carolyn.


Russell J. Wong aka "rjwong"

Food and I, we go way back ...

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Looking forward to hitting Vegas for the first time in June; I will be attending a trade show and will be there on my birthday, so I'll be wanting to find some place extra special to take myself that night.

Knowing I live in San Francisco and am fairly spoiled with good food and haute cuisine, I would love to know what anyone's ONE recommendation would be...

Without any hesitation, I recommend Alex at the Wynn. (I'm from NYC, and am returning to LV in three weeks, and the first reservation I made is for Alex (my third visit)). Robuchon is vastly overrated; so much so that last year I dined at Alex one evening, and Robuchon the next evening, and Robuchon was almost forgettable--except for the bill!. By the way, I class SF as one of best places for dining!

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I would suggest something different from what you can get in S.F. While Alex Stratta doesn't cook in S.F., the style is not altogether different from a number of top-end S.F. restaurants. I found it to be good, but not mind-blowing. For something relatively unique, I would suggest either Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare or Wing Lei, both at the Wynn. At Bartolotta, they have outstanding Mediterranean seafood of a quality not typically found in this country, while at Wing lei, the style of Chinese is atypical for this country as well.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Edsel, given that you'll have a car, and if you can get away for lunch, go to Settebello, also in Henderson (see rjwong's post).

...

Thanks for that recommendation. I went to Settebello for lunch and quite enjoyed it, as did my customers - I think they'll be back. I love the Neapolitan style of pizza, and it has the added advantage of cooking quickly. We got our order without too much of a wait. A good thing at lunch-time.

My first evening in Vegas I wound up going to Lotus of Siam. Several friends have raved about it, and the posts here looked promising. I had the Nam Kao Sod (crsipy rice and sour sausage) and the Khao Soi, a Northern-style noodle curry. Both were absolutely wonderful. I'd heard so much about the crispy rice dish that I was afraid it wouldn't live up to the hype. But it did. :smile:

Nam Kao Tod

gallery_12922_6523_125721.jpg

Khao Soi

gallery_12922_6523_72632.jpg

On Tuesday I went back to RM Seafood. I'd been there before, but wanted to go back to try the sushi and sashimi. I genuinely admire their commitment to sustainable fisheries. And the quality of the seafood they serve is impeccable. I started with the oyster sampler, and moved on to some nigiri and sashimi. I wanted to try the cobia (unusual for sushi), but they were out so I substituted the sable. The fish that looks like salmon is Char, a close relative.

Oyster Sampler

gallery_12922_6523_101922.jpg

Nigiri and Sashimi

gallery_12922_6523_1250.jpg

I didn't make it to L'Atelier - that will have to wait for another visit.

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The smoking is what has me concerned too. I'm from NJ and so much of the area here is smoke free. I haven't been to Atlantic City in years so the smoke there doesnt effect me.

ejw50 -- Do tell more about the pastry please. Are you talking about pastry in restaurants for dessert or from pastry shops? Is so which ones. My heart beat a little bit faster just from reading the word "pastry."  :wub:

Both. I echo what David said.

I stayed in Bellagio and went to JP Maury's 4-5 times.

Terrific stuff. There's also a thread already. Like being in Paris,

except maybe slightly less adventurous. the most 'adventurous' thing

was JPM's version of the rose macaroon.

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=59798

Payard's at Caesar's look similar. But it's right outside the casino, so don't bother with the express area right outside. I took some photos and will post when I get a chance.

Also went to Lenotre in Paris a few times (Paris the hotel). Also great. Will post pics when I get a chance.

Chef Rubber is also there if you like to make pastry and want to shop supplies.

Frederic Robert at the Wynn was with Ducasse (I didn't try his stuff, and he doesn't have a shop).

The plated desserts at all the places I went were all lights outs.

Beth, L'Atelier is in the MGM casino with the door open.

The first day, we went to Le Cirque in the Bellagio in the casino with the door open.

It is not a non-smoking experience as you would get in NY, SF, or Boston.

After Le Cirque, we decided not to go to L'Atelier or Mesa Grill or anything else we knew was in the middle of the casino with an open door.

There's so many great places it was not worth it.


Edited by ejw50 (log)

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Chef Rubber is also there if you like to make pastry and want to shop supplies

They have a retail store? Probably just as well that I didn't know that. :laugh:

I've ordered from them on-line. Seeing all that stuff in person could be dangerous to my finances.

re: smoke-free environment. I'm fairly sensitive to ambient smoke, but didn't have a problem walking through the casino floor at Mandalay Bay to get to RM Seafood. The restaurant itself wasn't smokey at all. Is there really a problem with smoke drifting into a place like L'Atelier? I'd think that if there was they'd do something about it...

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Frederic Robert at the Wynn was with Ducasse (I didn't try his stuff, and he doesn't have a shop).

Actually, you can some of his work at the shop Sugar & Ice at the Wynn.


John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Chef Rubber is also there if you like to make pastry and want to shop supplies

They have a retail store? Probably just as well that I didn't know that. :laugh:

I've ordered from them on-line. Seeing all that stuff in person could be dangerous to my finances.

re: smoke-free environment. I'm fairly sensitive to ambient smoke, but didn't have a problem walking through the casino floor at Mandalay Bay to get to RM Seafood. The restaurant itself wasn't smokey at all. Is there really a problem with smoke drifting into a place like L'Atelier? I'd think that if there was they'd do something about it...

I did not go in; I can only say the door was open to the casino at L'Atelier at MGM. The door was closed at Joel Robuchon right next door to L'Atelier (and at Nobu at the Hard rock, for comparison). After experiencing the difference in air at Nobu and Le cirque, I think the door should be closed at every restaurant next to the casino. If the casino smoke doesn't bother you, then it won't matter. Sensitivity to that is an individual thing, of course.

It could also be that Le Cirque was anomalous, but why risk it? There are so many great places in Vegas that are not next to the casino with an open door.

I don't think this is unique to restaurants. All the shows are non smoking. But except for Cher in the Colloseum at Caesars (which has a ridiculous ventilation system), the ones I saw all smell of casino smoke until they close the doors after the show starts. In the case of Jubilee, they never close the door and it smelled like smoke the whole way through.

Chef Rubber has a retail store and a small kitchen where they teach classes. They have a kick ass enrober (40k) that can do 10k a day or something like that. It wasn't a selmi, it was something else, would have to check the pics. You need a taxi or car to get there, it's about 2-3 miles walk from the strip. But it is walkable if you wanted.


Edited by ejw50 (log)

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I've just returned from a short vacation in Las Vegas. Dinner highlights were: Alex (naturally), Le Cirque, and Bar Charlie. All were delicious! Depressed economy is definitely noticed: only 2 diners at Bar Charlie the entire evening. All of these restaurants serve delicious and creative food; service is excellent also at all of them. My most favorite of the three is Alex.

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I've just returned from a short vacation in Las Vegas.  Dinner highlights were:  Alex (naturally), Le Cirque, and Bar Charlie.  All were delicious!  Depressed economy is definitely noticed:  only 2 diners at Bar Charlie the entire evening.  All of these restaurants serve delicious and creative food; service is excellent also at all of them.  My most favorite of the three is Alex.

Thanks for your report. I'd love to hear about the menus/dishes you had at each restaurant. Were the dining rooms at Alex and Le Cirque reasonably full of diners?

Certainly the economy is hurting all the restaurants in Las Vegas and the rumors over the demise of Bar Charlie and Restaurant Charlie have been circulating for some time.

But one element of the high-end Las Vegas restaurant trade that aids in their survival during these tough economic times is the hotel money that backs them up. Many of these places are "lost-leaders" that don't generate enough revenue on their own to stay open-even in good times.

Yet part of the "mirage" if you will, of a hotel like The Palazzo is to have a restaurant row of expensive, stylish, restaurants like Restaurant Charlie and Bar Charlie. And yes, even with only two customers, and sagging revenues from gaming, some executives will tell you that it still makes sense for the Palazzo "brand" to keep supporting these restaurants.

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I've just returned from a short vacation in Las Vegas.  Dinner highlights were:  Alex (naturally), Le Cirque, and Bar Charlie.  All were delicious!  Depressed economy is definitely noticed:  only 2 diners at Bar Charlie the entire evening.  All of these restaurants serve delicious and creative food; service is excellent also at all of them.  My most favorite of the three is Alex.

Thanks for your report. I'd love to hear about the menus/dishes you had at each restaurant. Were the dining rooms at Alex and Le Cirque reasonably full of diners?

Certainly the economy is hurting all the restaurants in Las Vegas and the rumors over the demise of Bar Charlie and Restaurant Charlie have been circulating for some time.

But one element of the high-end Las Vegas restaurant trade that aids in their survival during these tough economic times is the hotel money that backs them up. Many of these places are "lost-leaders" that don't generate enough revenue on their own to stay open-even in good times.

Yet part of the "mirage" if you will, of a hotel like The Palazzo is to have a restaurant row of expensive, stylish, restaurants like Restaurant Charlie and Bar Charlie. And yes, even with only two customers, and sagging revenues from gaming, some executives will tell you that it still makes sense for the Palazzo "brand" to keep supporting these restaurants.

Of the three restaurants, Le Cirque was the most full (probably about 80%). At Le Cirque I had the seared foie gras appetizer, the duck breast entree and the floating islands for dessert. Service was very attentive.

At Alex (my favorite restaurant), I was offered two different amuses with four tastings each, followed by another amuse of fluke with ossetra caviar. My first course were the scallops (highly recommended by my captain) that were delicious, followed by the duck breast that was even better than that at Le Cirque since it was paired with foie gras. My dessert was a strawberry tasting which went well with my dinner. The sommelier paired wines for my courses that were perfect choices. Service was perfect.

At Bar Charlie, I chose the 8 course menu that offered very generous sized courses. The first few were more sashimi styled and I thought I might be hungry at the end. I was wrong; the courses progressed in size, and by the time I reached the final savory course of pork belly, I was too full to make much of a dent. Everything was delicious. My favorites included all of the sashimi style dishes of tuna, snapper and trout. The chef said that Chef Trotter is opeing a new restaurant in NYC styled after the restaurants in Las Vegas. I think they'll do much better in NYC. Since there were only two diners, service was very attentive.

For a change of pace, I went to BLT Burger and had a great burger (the BLT Burger) that was perfectly pink. I had the sweet potato fries that were great. Finished by the coffee milkshake with chocolate syrup and oreos. All I can say is "Yummy".

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I've just returned from a short vacation in Las Vegas.  Dinner highlights were:  Alex (naturally), Le Cirque, and Bar Charlie.  All were delicious!  Depressed economy is definitely noticed:  only 2 diners at Bar Charlie the entire evening.  All of these restaurants serve delicious and creative food; service is excellent also at all of them.  My most favorite of the three is Alex.

Thanks for your report. I'd love to hear about the menus/dishes you had at each restaurant. Were the dining rooms at Alex and Le Cirque reasonably full of diners?

Certainly the economy is hurting all the restaurants in Las Vegas and the rumors over the demise of Bar Charlie and Restaurant Charlie have been circulating for some time.

But one element of the high-end Las Vegas restaurant trade that aids in their survival during these tough economic times is the hotel money that backs them up. Many of these places are "lost-leaders" that don't generate enough revenue on their own to stay open-even in good times.

Yet part of the "mirage" if you will, of a hotel like The Palazzo is to have a restaurant row of expensive, stylish, restaurants like Restaurant Charlie and Bar Charlie. And yes, even with only two customers, and sagging revenues from gaming, some executives will tell you that it still makes sense for the Palazzo "brand" to keep supporting these restaurants.

I beg to differ somewhat on the "loss leader" philosophy. The only outlet in casino/hotels that tends to be a loss leader is the buffet although in local properties this outlet is squeezed for all it is worth and is expected to be profitable, hence the less expensive items filling the bulk of the spots with the occasional "high value" protein taking a starring role.

Trust me, I've gotten dizzy on numerous occasions staring at P&L's detailing every financial activity that takes place in the restaurants that I've worked at in Las Vegas, loss is not acceptable.

It might be interesting to note that the Venetian does not have a buffet. It seems that loss (although many argue that it is a driver for foot traffic) in any form is something that the ownership is not interested in. Additionally, the restaurants at the Venetian/Palazzo from what I understand are not owned by the property, they are leased by the individual outlets. In most other properties on the strip the restaurants are owned by the hotel but management fees are paid monthly to their respective motherships usually on a base plus percentage of sales method.

True, having gaming and room revenue helps to pay the electric bill (unless activity base accounting is implemented - but honestly damn near everything is going to cost you one way or another in these places) but between property wide allocations, union bennies and an assorted menagerie of other charges F&B outlets aren't really seeing much if any "float" from the gaming floor.

While I am sure that there are isolated examples of allowing an outlet to continue even when the numbers don't add up that would be a very, very rare exception indeed. Vive le profit!

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"...F&B outlets aren't really seeing much if any "float" from the gaming floor."

An outside restaurant operator can benefit, when the casino picks up the tab for one of its preferred players. A good casino comp provides plenty of opportunity for the restaurant to provide a high profit margin meal to its VIP guest.

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I beg to differ somewhat on the "loss leader" philosophy. The only outlet in casino/hotels that tends to be a loss leader is the buffet although in local properties this outlet is squeezed for all it is worth and is expected to be profitable, hence the less expensive items filling the bulk of the spots with the occasional "high value" protein taking a starring role.

Trust me, I've gotten dizzy on numerous occasions staring at P&L's detailing every financial activity that takes place in the restaurants that I've worked at in Las Vegas, loss is not acceptable.

It might be interesting to note that the Venetian does not have a buffet. It seems that loss (although many argue that it is a driver for foot traffic) in any form is something that the ownership is not interested in. Additionally, the restaurants at the Venetian/Palazzo from what I understand are not owned by the property, they are leased by the individual outlets. In most other properties on the strip the restaurants are owned by the hotel but management fees are paid monthly to their respective motherships usually on a base plus percentage of sales method.

True, having gaming and room revenue helps to pay the electric bill (unless activity base accounting is implemented - but honestly damn near everything is going to cost you one way or another in these places) but between property wide allocations, union bennies and an assorted menagerie of other charges F&B outlets aren't really seeing much if any "float" from the gaming floor.

While I am sure that there are isolated examples of allowing an outlet to continue even when the numbers don't add up that would be a very, very rare exception indeed. Vive le profit!

Thank you for adding some more insight into the issue of the unique financial arrangements between the restaurants, the "name" Chefs, the hotels and casinos of Las Vegas.

Coming from someone with first-hand experience in reviewing the balance sheets, your experience gives us more details into these relationships. Vive le profit, (and creating the right image), are indeed an indelible part of Las Vegas.

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I heard a rumor that Guy Savoy in Las Vegas is closing. Anyone know details about this?

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I heard a rumor that Guy Savoy in Las Vegas is closing.  Anyone know details about this?

I just returned from a quick trip to Las Vegas and I didn't hear anything about Savoy closing. But I would add that the economic downturn has and continues to hit all of the restaurants very hard. I don't think we're anywhere near the end of the cycle and we'll probably be hearing news of more restaurant closings in Las Vegas in the future.

I'll be reporting on some incredible menu pricing specials that I found at the Wynn and Encore while I was in town.

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Last week when I was in Las Vegas I took a walk over to the Wynn and Encore to check out the restaurant menus. I was especially interested in seeing if the terrible economy of Las Vegas has had an impact in lowering restaurant prices. As you'll read below, the answer is yes, the economy is obviously impacting restaurant prices and some of the high-end places have taken notice.

All of the restaurants at Wynn and Encore are currently offering special "Taste of Wynn" menus. Each menu is at least three courses and many menus offer a selection of dishes for each course. They are incredibly good deals. The only draw-back I saw was that the specials are only offered from 530p-700p, a relatively early hour for dining in Las Vegas.

The current special menu at Wing Lei is priced at $69 per person. Note that the Peking Duck ordered off the regular menu is priced at $44.00.

"Chef Richar'ds Imperical Peking Duck Tasting."

Table Carved Peking Duck, Handmade Pancakes, Cucumber, Scallion, Hoisin

Peking Duck Salad

Mesclun, Almonds, Orange Truffle Vinaigrette

Wild Duck Soup

Asian Vegetables

Wok-Fried Duck

Asparagus, Garlic Black Bean Sauce

Pan-Seared Duck Noodles

Chinese Broccoli, Crispy Noodles

Chef's Dessert Selection

The "Taste of Wynn" menu at Alex is priced at $95 and offers the following:

Choice of-

Maine Sea Scallops

White and Green Asparagus, Organic Polenta and Sweet Sausage

or

Black Truffle Risotto

Crispy Chicken, Wild Mushrooms, Roasted Chicken Jus

Choice of-

Roasted Tenderloin of Beef

Gratin Yukon Potatoes, Sweet Onions, Bordelaise Sauce

or

Hawaiian Onaga

Taro Puree, Young Coconut, Nori-Radish Salad and Carrot-Ginger Sauce

Choice of-

Vanilla Citrus Parfait

Toasted Marshmallow Cream, Campari Sorbet

or

Crunchy Chocolate Caramel Bombe

I noticed that Alex is now only open four days a week, Wednesday thru Saturday. In the past they were open at least six days a week.

The full tasting menu at Alex was priced at $185 last week, with wines $235. A year ago the tasting menu was in the $250 range.

I checked with a concierge and he "assured" me that if you are dining in a group, the restaurant is more than happy to accomodate differing menu selections at your table. In other words, if someone wanted to order ala carte, one ordered the "Taste of Wynn" menu and a third diner ordered the full-blown tasting menu, your party would be accomodated. (I think that would be a difficult task for the servers and the kitchen to make sure the flow of dishes was spot on, but I suppose it could work).

A different sign of the poor economy in Las Vegas-the valet I visited with. Last year he was a stockbroker-this year he's parking cars.

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Thanks David.

Do you think there is a difference in the tasting menu at $185 v $250? Is the number of courses the same, or are there cutbacks in the size of portions or types of luxury ingredients? Also, did you happen to catch the price of the ala carte menu at Alex?


Jeff Meeker, aka "jsmeeker"
jmeeker@eGullet.org

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Thanks David.

Do you think there is a difference in the tasting menu at $185 v $250?  Is the number of courses the same, or are there cutbacks in the size of portions or types of luxury ingredients?   Also, did you happen to catch the price of the ala carte menu at Alex?

Looking over the current tasting menu it doesn't appear that there is any difference in what used to run $250 and now runs $185. There are still plenty of luxe ingredients like foie gras, caviar and prime-grade beef. The portions were never large at Alex. They couldn't really save much in terms of cost if they cut out things like an Amuse or Petit Fours, so I really think it's just a symptom of lowering prices and cutting back on hours to reduce some costs.

There doesn't appear to be any cutbacks on the large ala carte menu either. They are currently offering 8 appetizers, 8 entrees and 5 desserts. There are plenty of high-quality ingredients on the ala carte menu-foie gras, sweetbreads, langoustines, john dory, veal loin and kurobata pork among them.

The cost of the ala carte menu didn't seem to be much lower than what I remember from last year. Appetizers run $15 and up, entrees begin at about $40 and desserts $15 on average.

This is the current tasting menu at Alex:

Kaimin Kanpachi Sashimi

Yuzu-Lemon Panna Cotta, Golden Osetra Caviar, Compressed Pear, Jalapeno and Manni Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Rice Crusted Sea Scallop

Parsnip Veloute, Roasted Chicken Jus, Quince, Golden Raisins and Puffed Rice

Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras

Pickled Turnips, Maui Onion Compote, Salad of Steamed and Confit Matsutake Mushrooms

Crispy Rouget de Roche

Eggplant Puree, Orange-Burgundy Sauce, Roasted Bell Pepper Marinade, Coriander and Piment d'espelette

Japanese Wagyu Beef Loin

Parmesan Bone Marrow Custard, Black Mission Figs, Arugula and Red Wine Syrup

Coconut Tapioca

with Passion Fruit Glaze and Tropical Fruits

Warm Apple Saute

with Maple-Black Walnut Cake and Sour Cream Parfait

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I heard a rumor that Guy Savoy in Las Vegas is closing.  Anyone know details about this?

I just returned from a quick trip to Las Vegas and I didn't hear anything about Savoy closing. But I would add that the economic downturn has and continues to hit all of the restaurants very hard. I don't think we're anywhere near the end of the cycle and we'll probably be hearing news of more restaurant closings in Las Vegas in the future.

I'll be reporting on some incredible menu pricing specials that I found at the Wynn and Encore while I was in town.

david what do you think of B&B restaurante is it Babbo standard

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