Thanks to you fine folks we had an excellent meal at Bar Charlie on Saturday. In posting, I mentioned we were Bay Area folks who wanted to try innovative food that we couldn't get in the Bay. This definitely fit the spot.
The restaurant itself is located right on the Palazzo casino floor - but as soon as you walk in you are well insulated from the noise and vegas in general. We had a 6:30 Saturday reservation and we were the only people at the Bar (and only a few people on the Restaurant side). There is only one 10 course kaiseki menu for $175. I opted for the wine pairing ($100) and the wife had a cocktail (the waitress recommended it - sherry & sherry vinegar and some other ingredients balanced perfectly by manchego cheese!).
For those who have eaten there know, the truly unique aspect of the meal is that Chef Hiro is preparing and serving the food to you. After explaining the course, he lets you take a few bites and asks what you think. It is very unobtrusive, and once he saw we wanted to talk to him, he shared more with us - details about the ingredients, the influence of the flavor combinations etc. It made for a very personal experience. Over the close to 3 hrs (we asked to take a break at one point - something we have started doing during long tasting menus) only one other couple sat down (around 2/3 of the way through) and they seemed like folks that come regularly. That made me sad as this place would be packed in SF or NYC. In fact, Chef Hiro did say he will be going to the Bar Charlie when it opens in 2011 in NYC (I probed that).
Anyway the courses (bottom a link to photos):
(1) Yuzu Sorbet served over puffed rice - paried with a champagne (an extra glass was brought for the wife - very nice). There was a togarashi spice powder that balanced the sweet, lightness of the dish very well.
(2)Hirame quince and lime - a simply amazing piece of fish matched the citrus very well. A sweet riesling went very well with it
(3) Hamachi with salted plum puree. This was suppossed to be blue fin tuna but we actually prefer hamachi and were not disappointed. Paired with a cosmo like cocktail that i didn't care for
(4) a medley of apple dishes - apply chip, apple ice, apple merengue (probably more components) paired with a dry riesling. This was a great contrast to the first 3 courses which were all about balance of flavors - here you were knocked over by the apple flavor in a very playful way. it really woke up the palate for the savory courses.
(5) Ocean Trout with medley of cauliflower served with fried fish skin. The fish skin is what blew us away - such a nice crunch to it. I also never knew cauliflower could be so flavorful. Paired with Sake (i appreciated the variety of pairings)...
(6) seared scallop that was sliced with white chocolate and cayenne pepper and burdock root. I liked the slicing of the scallop and felt the pairing with the white chocolate was inspired. a moment that made us both say wow! paired with a pinot grigio
...we took a break at this point
(7) Wagyu beef short rib sous vide for 48hrs with an herb cream. simply amazing and the rib tasted like marrow. the pairing was a pinot noir - i may have gone for a zin or cab here...
this starts the desserts which are now served by the pastry chef...
(8) the sorbet course - a jasmine rice and vanilla sorbet with a sake granite. the rice sorbet was a wonderful flavor. sadly no pairing as unfiltered sake would have been perfect with this.
(9) the fruit course - passion fruit cake with asian pear. very light and flavorful cake. paired with a late harvest riesling (yes three rieslings in 9 pairings - but all different)
(10) chocoalate steam cake with chocolate raspberry sorbet and mochi (rice cake). paired with port. I found the rasberry - chocolate combo a bit traditional and i am not actually a big fan of rasberry so this was the one disappointing dish. the port too was not great (we are port people though...)
of course there were some lovely petit fours at the end....
In sum, i highly recommend this place while it is still around. it is a truly unique dining experience for a foodie b/c not only do you get to eat great food but you get to learn about it too. Also, you can also make special requests for courses. He mentioned that he sometimes does a uni risotto as well as an uni & duck dish. so if there is something you like, you can ask for it a few days ahead of time...
3325 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109