Restaurants & Bars 8

TWIST review

mcgrath | Feb 16, 2010 01:03 PM

My wife and I dined there last Sat. night. I took no notes, not planning on writing anything, so this is all from memory. But the memory is fresh and the report is accurate, if not as detailed as some.

We arrived early to leave our wine with the hostess so it could be chilled. We brought an upscale White Burgundy. The matre d' came up to receive it and did so graciously, not always the case when I bring wine in. I'd asked ahead and was told the policy was a two bottle maximum and a $50 corkage.

We were going to have a drink at the Sky Bar down the hall, but TWIST has an inviting, European style full bar with just 4-5 seats near the entrance, so we decided to cocktail it right there. Michael the bartender was very engaging and mixed our Campari and sodas flawlessly.

The dining room is really beautiful. All seats have nice views of City Center and/or the strip. There are round little lights suspended from the ceiling, not unlike those at Mix, but fewer of them, and these are more subdued. Probably the most beautiful dining room I've been to in Vegas, understanding this is all so subjective.

Gracious welcoming by all staff except the Sommelier. Her name is Julie and she was summoned to meet us at the Bar to help with wine selection (we were buying a red from their list), but never showed. She came by our table a few minutes after we were seated. Dutiful and unsmiling. I asked her to compare and contrast a couple of reds on the list and she seemed taken aback by the question, and maybe just the slightest bit perturbed for some reason. By the way, the wine list is very limited and small for a restaurant of this caliber, although the selections appear well thought out.

All other staff were gracious and pleasant.

Pierre Gagnaire likes to do things in fives. We had five declicious amuse buches, not the usual one or two. There is his signature Langoustine Five Ways and at the end there were five separate desserts placed before us. He seems intent that patrons leave feeling they got their money's worth, which is exactly how we felt. By the way, Gagnaire was on premises for the grand opening but not since, although his Vegas chef worked with him for many years in Paris and knows his style.

Gagnaire is known for pushing the envelope culinarily, and he does not disappoint at Twist. One of our amuses was one of those dishes that sounds really off-putting but is absolutely delicious and inspired. It's a whipped tuna spread made with a chantilly cream mixture made to be spread on bread. A major hit.

We had the tasting menu which included a John Dory course which was my hit of the evening. Best expression of that fish I've ever had. A close second for me was Langoustine #1, an extremely simple grilled preparation with the faintest of grill marks, served raw/rare out of the shell.

Because the restaurant is within the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, some of Chef's items are Asian inspired; this according to the bartender. These were the misses for us. One was a seaweed/butter mixture for spreading that was inedible to my wife and me. Another was a very strong compote of Langoustine (no. 4) that tasted like old shells left out in the sun too long. These were simply not approachable for us.

The final miss, at least for my wife, was the pineapple, tomato and cucumber course. Simply an inspired creation of flavors ruined for my wife because of a generous sprinkle of what tasted like cayenne over the top. I loved it, because I thrive on heat. My wife is just the opposite, couldn't finish the dish due to the heat in her mouth and had to retire to the ladies room to recover. We should have been told about the heat beforehand, but there was no word of it, and it was not apparent when the dish was served.

The meat dish was a delectable smoked sirloin piece, smoked over oak and rosemary with a great sauce. It paired wonderfully with the Gaja "bordeaux blend" half bottle we selected.

All in all, the TWIST tasting menu is a bargain at $185 and we are happy we went. No complaints with the $50 corkage (although it had been charged twice on our original bill, which was quickly corrected) but I wish more restaurants would waive this fee when the diners also purchase wine from the list. It's unlike either Joel Robuchon or Guy Savoy, and is most like Per Se in NYC if you've been there. The ambiance is refined, the room gorgeous and the service mostly spot on. Definitely recommended. Sorry I couldn't recall more details of the dishes.

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