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(Late) Meal Report – Spago – “Dining Room” – Saturday, August 23, 2014

pretender414 | Feb 9, 201511:00 PM

I started writing this up shortly after the meal but never went back to finish, apparently. Still, we had a great meal there and there’s not many recent reports here, so...


We arrived about 15 minutes before our 6:30 p.m. reservation, but the hostess was able to seat us immediately in the dining room. Note – they asked us if we wanted “cafe or dining room” so next time, we’d note which ahead of time in the reservation comments field.

The restaurant space is pretty neat – the more casual (less pricey) cafe is out front, where you can watch people strolling through the Forum Shops. The dining room feels like a different space entirely. It was very classic-modern decor: not too fussy, giant striped picture on the wall. The downstairs dining area was smaller than I expected and stayed pretty full most of the evening, with the exception of a few larger tables. We fit in pretty well with button down shirts and dark pants, but there was a wide range of outfits (from shorts to sparkly clubbing dresses).

The waiter brought over the drink menu on a tablet – it’s pretty fun flipping through the choices, looking at the pictures and checking out the ingredients. You can also “order” on the tablet and have everyone’s drinks listed for when the waiter returns. (This seems to be catching on in Vegas.) My husband went with an amber beer, while I decided to stick with water.

The actual menu most closely resembled the menu available on Spago’s webpage. The menu is seasonal, so not all the ones on the web are up to date. (The menus available on Open Table and a few other sites were flat out wrong.) It’s split into 3 parts – One, Two, and Three. The first section is appetizers: they were mainly designed to be served to one person, although a few are large enough for two. The second section is a midcourse, that they recommend people split, but I just ordered my main course from here. The third section is the entrée section and includes seafood-poultry-meat options for around $35-55.

The meal started with my favorite part – the bread basket! We could pick from a French baguette, an olive ciabatta (the waiter’s favorite), a cheddar cracker (no, that’s not its “real” name), and a slice of cherry-walnut bread (my husband’s and my favorite). Next up was the appetizers – I had the Farmer’s Market Black Mission Fig w/Prosciutto, Burrata Cheese, 25 Year Aged Balsamic. Although good apart, the dish worked best with everything in one bite, including the sweet jam on the plate. My husband had the Charred Octopus w/Forbidden Rice – he was very impressed with it and said it was his favorite dish of the night.

While waiting for the next course, we checked out what was happening around us. One dish went by that had a giant white foam topping (it looked like whipped cream) – turns out that was the halibut with a “Mascarpone Emulsion.” Other people were getting their dishes unveiled in front of them with the white domes pulled off rather dramatically. It looked like one or two people sent dishes back (we think that their steak was underdone).

Meanwhile, one of the wait staff came back and asked if we wanted more bread. (My eyes lit up, I broke into a smile, and my husband rolled his eyes at me.) I went with another slice of the cherry-walnut (so did my husband). (Another person later came back to offer a third round, but I finally declined at that point.) For our main course, I ordered a wonderful, tasty, amazing pasta dish from “Two”: Agnolotti - White Corn Ravioli, Mascarpone, Parmesan Reggiano. Corn and grated parmesan were sprinkled over the top of the pasta, and everything was made perfectly. The portion was not very large, but I wouldn’t want any more – the dish was very rich and had just the perfect amount for me. My husband ordered the Pan Seared Sonoma Duck Breast, which came with a puree and vegetables and huckleberries. He really enjoyed this course as well. No complaints.

At this point, Executive Chef Eric Klein came out of the kitchen and stopped by every table. (“Ah, I see you hated what you ordered,” he said to me, noticing that there was a tiny bit of the sauce left clinging to the plate and absolutely nothing else left.) It was a nice touch and helped make the meal more memorable for us – we also appreciated that he genuinely seemed to care that everyone was satisfied with their meals.

We also ordered dessert. My husband chose the Peanut Butter Soufflé with Lemon Ice Cream, while I inexplicably went for the Assorted Cookie Plate. His dessert came out, tall and impressive (Note: the waiter warns that it will take 12 minutes to make). Neither of us had soufflé before, and we enjoyed this one. It was very peanut buttery – the top is light and airy and the center is warm and gooey. The lemon ice cream seemed like an odd choice until we tried it – its citrus flavor helped cut through the richness of the peanut butter. Now, for the cookies – there were 12 small cookies (about 1/3 of the size of a normal cookie) with two of each flavor: chocolate chip, peanut butter, grapefruit-coconut sugar, turtle caramel pecan, oatmeal raison, and lemon crunch. I was more than a little disappointed – I’ve definitely made better cookies myself. The chocolate chip seemed a bit greasy and wasn’t the gooey cookie I hoped for. We only made it through four (my husband tried the lemon crunch) before I opted for a doggie bag as I couldn’t eat another bite. I will say, they tasted much, much better to me the next day, when I wasn’t as full.

Then the waiter brought out the check and a “thank you for coming” from the kitchen – two raspberry marshmallows and two very tiny blueberry-lemon pies. YUM! If I’d known these were coming, I’d have just skipped dessert because they were the perfect portion to finish the meal. The blueberry-lemon pie was a perfect one bite dessert with a gushing liquid center. Great ending to a great meal.

Overall assessment: We’d go back. The service was very slightly over attentive at times, but I’d rather have that any day than trying to get someone’s attention for more water. Everything was flawlessly prepared, except for perhaps the cookie plate (but I shouldn’t have ordered that anyway plus it tasted better than I remembered the next day). The total was about $145 for two people before tip (2 appetizers, 1 midcourse as an entree, 1 entree, 1 drink, 1 tea, 2 desserts), but that didn’t seem overpriced for what we got (unlike many other Strip restaurants). We enjoyed the meal from start to finish and would definitely recommend it. We also plan on checking out the café portion at some point – the lower prices make it an attractive alternate to the dining room, especially if the food quality turns out to be as high.

The Forum Shops at Caesars
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