My time off happened to correspond to the opening of Encore so here we are staying in the hotel. While exploring yesterday (opening day) we liked to looks of Botero Steakhouse so a reservation was made. I know it's a risk to dine at a restaurant on its opening night but what the heck.
The exec/celeb chef at Botero is Mark LaRusso of Tableau and Michael Mina fame. Seems that the trend it for the celeb chefs to move into steakhouses (i.e. Puck-Cut, Mina-Stripsteak, Colichio-Craft, Lagasse-Delmonico, etc.). Since I've had some great experiences at Tableau (mostly breakfast/lunch) I was intrigued by the possibilities.
The restaurant is quite attractive. You enter through the bar into a grand circular room with the Encore pools right outside the window. The tables are circular and square and the white chairs with armrests are quite comfortable. The waitstaff is dressed very casually in black t-shirts in fact. Right off the bat, botero comes off as one of the "new American steakhouses" rather than the typical dark, wooden oldschool places of steakhouses past.
The appetizer menu is quite progressive with many seafood options. There were a few tartare and sashimi options which looked quite attractive but I opted for the beet salad with goat cheese. This was one of the better preparations of this I have had. Perfectly textured and spiced beets alongside what seemed like a large serving of goat and a few crispy crackers. The goat cheese was unbelievably soft and delicious. This was a nearly flawless dish which I would absolutely order again.
My wife ordered the crab agnolotti which she enjoyed a lot.
Excellent selection of breads. Sourdough, cranberry, walnut, olive. I had the cranberry which was crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside and filled with sweet cranberries.
The entree menu consists of predominantly steaks (surprise) but also has a few fish, chicken and lamb selections. There is the token wagyu selection for a ridiculous cost but it seems like the focus here is on American beef.
We had the Chateuabriand for two which came out already sliced and cooked medium rare as ordered. It was presented in a copper pot which was a nice touch. The crust was perfectly done and really added to the experience. I've had many filets in my time and this was one of the better ones. It's been many years since I've experienced a life-changing filet experience though. I suspect that I may have to upgrade to wagyu to achieve this at this point in my steakeating career.
Many of the sides looked appetizing and decadent. We read in the Wynn Hotel magazine the LaRusso is famous for his tatertot side so we gave it a go. I had a bit of trepidation about this choice with memories of hot lunches in grade school. They did not disappoint however. Hard crunchy outside with a creamy delicious inside. There was obviously more inside than just potato. The serving was actually quite small and we ran out before we were finished with the steak. We ended up ordering more which is quite unusual for us.
We opted out of dessert being that the Wynn gave us a gift of fine chocolates which were waiting for us in the room.
Overall, Botero was an excellent experience. It will likely be talked about along with the better steakhouses in Vegas like CUT, Craft and Stripsteak. Was it better than those places? I don't know, I'd probably have to try it again. It's definitely in the same league though. I'd return again without a doubt though.
There are two other fine dining restaurants in the Encore. Sinatra's is an Italian venue decorated with pics of old blue eyes. We were not able to see inside since Steve Wynn had his opening party there last night. The other restaurant is Switch which in classic Vegas style changes its walls and I guess its entire theme midmeal. I did not actually witness this change, but we did check out the menu. It was intriguing but seemed heavy on the steaks. Like Palazzo, things at Encore seem a bit steak heavy.
Don't know where we are going to dine tonight. Perhaps Sinatras.