North America

Las Vegas: A Decadent Feast

written by | Posted on October 1st, 2009

Las Vegas takes high-end dining to the extreme.

Las Vegas marquees have long hawked powerhouse headliners who lure even the most frenzied gamers into a respite from slots and blackjack. From Frank and Dean days at the Sands to Bette and Cher swapping the stage at Caesars Palace, this glitzy desert city has more than measured up to its “Entertainment Capital of the World” moniker.

Escalating that status over the past decade is a megawatt culinary scene, with a slew of heavyweight chefs like Todd English, Nobu Matsuhisa, Michael Mina, Jean-Louis Palladin, Joachim Splichal and Jean-Georges Vongerichten creating signature epicurean stages. Whether toasting big winnings or drowning sorrows when lady luck fades away, it’s a cinch your clients will hit the jackpot when opting for renowned dining venues showcasing this new breed of superstars.

Today, Vegas serves up more celebrity chefs, master sommeliers and world-class restaurants than any other city in the world—an impressive tally that finds critics likening it to New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Paris. Not too shabby for a destination once hyped for all-you-can-consume buffets and heaping shrimp cocktails swimming in sauce.

cream of the crop Among mega-resorts boasting multiple high-drawer eateries, Bellagio owns bragging rights with a pair of five-diamond winners—Le Cirque and Picasso.

The name Picasso says it all as the restaurant serves up not only dishes inspired by the regional cuisine of France and Spain, where Picasso spent much of his life, but masterpieces by the renowned artist and a collection of his fascinating ceramic pieces.

The restaurant also boasts a wine cellar stocked with more than 1,500 selections from the finest European vineyards.

Le Cirque, on the other hand, offers a whimsical setting with a canvas of bright colors swirling about diners as they dine on exquisite French cuisine.

Also scooping up top honors is Wynn Las Vegas’ ALEX, which was tapped by Mobil Travel Guide for its prestigious list. Named for internationally acclaimed executive chef Alessandro Stratta, ALEX offers refined contemporary French cuisine that’s inspired by classic flavors and traditions of Provence and Nice. His 5-course tasting menu lets guests sample a bit of the best, from olive oil poached kanpachi to Japanese Wagyu strip loin. Changing seasonally, it’s priced at $195 pp or $325 pp with the sommelier’s wine pairing.

Another hit from the chef is Stratta with an enticing menu of rustic Italian-American favorites that is seasonal, ingredient-focused and approachable. Tastefully reflecting chef Stratta’s creativity and mastery of Italian specialties, selections showcase a variety of fresh homemade pastas, wood-oven pizzas, and rustic entrees such as roasted pork chops and rib eye steak “pizzaiola” with wild mushrooms.

Reflecting Wynn’s culinary standards, Encore has stirred in its own all-star team of chefs—each personally cooking in their respective kitchen nightly. Among these is Theo Schoenegger at Sinatra, where classic Italian cuisine is presented with a modern flair as Ol’ Blue Eyes tunes fill the room with the entertainer’s legendary charisma. Adorned with oversized portraits of Sinatra in his younger years—and the Oscar he won in 1953 for Best Supporting Actor in “From Here to Eternity”—the restaurant emphasizes chef Theo’s seasonal approach to the country’s signature flavors and dishes.

Meanwhile, at Restaurant Guy Savoy at Caesars Palace, Krug representatives have joined the acclaimed French chef to launch The Krug Room, a private dining retreat where those with big budgets ($750 pp with a minimum party of six!) can indulge in such decadent seasonal 6-course pairing menus as colors of caviar and crispy sea bass in delicate spices. These dishes are paired with various Krug vintages from 1985 through 1995, creating a perfect fusion of flavors.

Over at Palms Place Hotel & Spa, Simon Restaurant & Lounge is known for its inventive menu that focuses on quality organic ingredients and fresh seasonal items. Here, “Rock ‘n Roll” chef Kerry Simon keeps it simple yet eclectic with everything from meatloaf and citrus braised short ribs, to sushi. Yet sticking to his mix-it-up mantra, the self-professed healthy eater also offers a “Junk Food Platter” that adds his signature spin to every decadent childhood dessert you can imagine.

palatable packages As high-profile dining accolades keep rolling in, the city touts its stellar dining roster with the same vigor as its shows. And with high-end accommodations seeing new lows in rates, now’s the time for your clients to take a culinary journey through Vegas.