My wife and I visited Las Vegas last week to celebrate our anniversary. We stayed away from buffets and absent celebrity chefs. In the end, we went to three destination restaurants:
1) Bar Charlie: Charlie Trotter is not in LV, but Chef Hiro can more than hold his own. The restaurant went through a recent change to “down size” its offerings. I have reported the experience in a separate thread.
2) Bartolotta: Unlike other restaurants in Wynn/Encore, Bartolotta serves “Taste of Wynn” menu all evening on weekdays. That was what we had in mind, until we saw the family style tasting menu served on the next table. We could not resist the temptation, and ordered the lower priced version of the tasting menu. It was a feast, starting with excellent Oliver oil for bread, 5 antipasti plates (anchovies, scallops, octopus salad, artichoke salad, and tiger shrimp), 3 pastas (seafood risotto, ricotta ravioli, and seafood penne), and followed by a whole Orata (sea bream) accompanied by zucchini. The sommelier proposed a glass of very good Italian white wine (Tocai?) that went perfectly with seafood antipasti, and a glass of Sicilian red that went well with heartier pasta and fish. The dishes are simply but expertly prepared. It does not suffer the common problem of over-salting in many Italian restaurants. We were not big eaters, and were initially concerned whether it would be too much food. Fast forward, we finished everything other than the Anchovy, which is quite salty (not a criticism as it is supposed to be salty). But when desert came, we were stuffed and can only recall a plate of gelatos, the most memorable being a pear gelato. The evening was thoroughly enjoyable.
3) Sinatra: A beautiful restaurant, with special occasion written all over it. One of us had “Taste of Wynn” menu, with beet salad, Ossobuco and Tiramisu. It is a great value, and the “house sparkling wine” that came with it was very nice. The other ordered a la carte with a soup, and Turbot. The food is more Italian American than Italian. Their butter is better than their Oliver oil. The food is well executed. The beet salad can be found all over the country these days, but Sinatra version is the best we ever had. The ossobuco is on the salty side though, but that is probably because our taste leans more toward more delicate fare.
Between our big meals, we had some nice, more casual experiences:
• Stopped at Julian Serrano twice to have a drink at the bar, and a couple of tapas to share. The menu is extensive, and we did not even scratch the surface. We really liked what we had (a potato, and a stuffed pepper), and will definitely go back in our next trip. Serrano introduced us to fine dining many years ago when we celebrated our first anniversary in San Francisco, before he moved to Las Vegas. A few years ago we dined at Picasso, and the food was unfortunately less memorable than the deco. Perhaps the chef is constrained by the corporation to stay on the conservative side? I hope he can shine in eponymous eatery.
• Daily coffee and pastry at Bouchon bakery. What a way to start the day.
• We eat a lot of Asian food in San Francisco Bay Area. It never fails to counter balance the rich Euro-American fine dinging. This time we had dim sum at Cathay House, pho at Saigon 8, dumpling and noodle at China Mama, and porridge at Sam Woo. The quality is very good, even for us used to the excellent Asian cooking in Bay Area. We do need out rental car to explore these off-strip places.
Thanks for the contributors of this board to give us so many great ideas. Our trip is a resounding success.