Notes from the Road – Vegas, May 2009
As we are now in one of the greatest months of the year, May, the temperatures here in Vegas are climbing to triple digits and the celebrations are beginning. For those of you that don’t know, this is my birthday is week and family tradition includes celebrating for the entire week! So, that’s basically what I have been doing over the last few days, venturing out to some of the finer restaurants in Vegas and enjoying great company.
Sunday night I was fortunate enough to be taken to enjoy my first dining experience at Encore Hotel (Steve Wynn’s newest venue) at Switch Restaurant (www.EncoreLasVegas.com). Let me just tell you I was extremely and pleasantly surprised by our entire evening at the restaurant. The cuisine there is French with New American influences.
When we walked in I saw some industry friends who I hadn’t caught up with in awhile, so it was great to re-connect. My buddy brought us out a duo of their signature Lobster Salad and a Foie Gras Torchon, paired with a Sauterne that was perfectly golden and sweet. My first entrée course was a delicate Lobster Ravioli with young ginger and coral emulsion, not too heavy but full lobster flavor and then my entrée was a perfect Spring compliment, Seared Alaskan Halibut with sweet pea coulis, garlic pea shoots and a cool, peas & carrots salad.
This evening we were hosted at Wing Lei (www.WynnLasVegas.com), Wynn’s fine dining Chinese restaurant. Let me just say that the room is absolutely gorgeous and fantastically opulent – just what you would expect for such a restaurant in a 5-star property. We started the evening with the white blend from Treana (www.Treana.com), a lovely Viognier and Marsanne blend from the Central Coast of California.
We started with an appetizer platter including the warm duck salad, shrimp toasts, spare ribs and a few other assorted items. It was a nice way to head into the meal, sharing between the four of us and not being overwhelmed by large portions. For our entrees we ordered the steamed Sea Bass, Sichuan String Beans, Muscovy Duck breast and the Walnut Prawns. I’ve rarely had great duck aside from barbeque style in Chinese restaurants, but this one was moist, tender, flavorful and a great composed dish.
I was fortunate to have a chance to return to the first restaurant I ever worked at here in Las Vegas, Spago, for dinner this past Tuesday (www.WolfgangPuck.com). Spago has always been a bastion of quality cuisine and fine dining here in town since it’s launch in 1992, but with Eric Klein behind the stoves it is truly shining again. If you haven’t had a chance to enjoy Eric’s food, go and go now! We started with a light and seasonal Alsatian style flatbread with first of the spring tomatoes in a margharita style. Wow!
I then moved on to a grilled Octopus salad with White Bean Ragout, Preserved Lemon and olive oil. I am hungry for this dish just writing about it now. The Octopus was tender, the lemon was a great acid balance to the ragout – it sung! My entrée selection was an Oven roasted First of the Season Alaskan Halibut with Artichoke Barigoule, White Asparagus, Fava Beans, Ramps and Mascarpone Emulsion. Being that it has just become Halibut season, I had to have this fish for the second time in 3 nights and it did not disappoint!
Since we were all stuffed after this great meal we decided to share dessert and what a plan that was! We selected two perfect for Springtime dishes – the 15-layer Carrot Cake with Candied Walnuts and Ginger Ice Cream and the First of the Season Strawberry Shortcake with Crème Fraiche Cream. Man, these dishes were a perfect way to end the evening and a wonderful meal at Spago.
With Mother’s Day on May 10th this year, be sure to wish your mom a very happy and special holiday. I hope that each of you are able to enjoy the day with your mother and if you can’t be with them, have her in your hearts! I know I do and have told her how much I love her. Enjoy and don’t forget to Keep Eating and Drinking!