Dining’s Not a Gamble in Vegas

written by | Posted on July 5th, 2012

Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas

Tea Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas.

You can still find all-you-can-eat smorgasbords in Las Vegas, and celebrity chef restaurants are now almost everywhere. Still, Sin City’s restaurant scene—especially those in hotels and resorts—continues to grow into a self-standing attraction, with options as inventive as they are yummy.

Sure, not everyone has a 120-ounce, $250 steak that serves six, like BRAND Steakhouse & Lounge at Monte Carlo Resort & Casino. But many have successfully combined interactive and over-the-top choices for visitors with memorable palate-pleasing experiences.

The elegant Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas recently introduced the Cooking with Charlie experience, which allows groups of four or more to cook with chef Charlie Palmer, architect of Progressive American cuisine, in the kitchen of innovative steakhouse Charlie Palmer Steak. After preparing their meal with chef Palmer, guests indulge in a deluxe 5-course tasting menu with wine pairing.

“We strive to create exclusive experiences that can only be found at Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas,” says Mark Hellrung, Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas’ general manager. “A private cooking lesson with a chef of Charlie Palmer’s caliber is the type of once-in-a-lifetime opportunity our guests appreciate.”

Adds chef Palmer: “I enjoy having the opportunity to work one-on-one with food enthusiasts who are looking to enhance their culinary talents—from knife skills, to increasing productivity in the kitchen, to learning how to properly season your creations, guests will walk away with the core ability to execute an impressive 5-course meal for family and friends.”

When it’s time for dessert, clients will get to feast on a private demonstration from Four Seasons’ executive pastry chef Jean-Luc Daul, whose flavors-and-presentation approach has brought added creativity to the hotel’s sweetest offerings. They’ll also leave with a signed cookbook from chef Palmer. The cost of the Cooking with Charlie experience is $2,000 pp, with a quarter of the proceeds benefiting Three Square, a local food bank that serves several counties in Nevada. Room rates at the non-gaming Four Seasons start at $179, with accommodations set to undergo a major renovation toward the end of the year.

But the dining experience here is not just about big names. Many restaurants, like Mizumi at Wynn Las Vegas, which just opened last month, are betting on rising stars—in this case, chef Devin Hashimoto—while still upping the ante for patrons. Mizumi’s piece de resistance? Its “Floating Pagoda Table,” which sits alone on a small dock right over the restaurant’s pond and its resident koi, and in full view of the waterfall that cascades into the pond. The menu here features classic and modern Japanese entrees, teppanyaki, sushi and sashimi, plus robatayaki selections prepared on traditional Japanese charcoal grills. Among the standouts: a 72-hour braised American Wagyu shortrib “kakuni.” Room rates start at $189 per night.

Speaking of distinctive dining, the Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas has debuted Gong Fu Cha, also known as the Chinese tea ceremony, at its Tea Lounge. This is a palate-and-culture duo that celebrates the art of enjoying tea in a ceremonial 5-step presentation: warming the traditional pot and cups, sharing the tea’s scent, placing the tea in the serving pot (also known as “the dragon enters the palace”), pouring tea from the first pot to the filter tea pot, and a second rinsing of the tea leaves. Gong Fu Cha is priced at $15 pp, with reservations recommended.

Another culinary pleasure here: the hotel’s signature restaurant, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, which puts a fun spin on classic French cuisine. The hotel’s Suite Life of the Chinese Empire package lets three couples luxuriate in a 3-course dinner at the restaurant, indulge in a private poolside cabana with catered lunch and a signature spa experience for each, have their own wheels for 24 hours with luxury transportation and spend the night at the Mandarin Oriental’s finest, most decadent suites: Emperor, Taipan and Mandarin. The package starts at $39,168 per night. Regular room rates start at $195 per night.