Another great visit to LV! We had a bunch of notable meals, which I'll try to highlight briefly.
Dinner at Le Cirque our first night was divine. I now get all the raves on this board. The service, ambiance and food were top notch. And unlike any of other other meals on the strip, we felt transported. My urchin appetizer and their signature butter poached lobster were perfect. The room is absolutely beautiful. The servers really stood out - somehow able to be both funny and professional. They made us newbies feel like regulars. One of the best meals we've had in awhile.
Lunch at China Poblano - A fun place to try a bunch of small plates. As others have noted, it's not fusion cuisine, but rather, separate sections of Mexican and Chinese offerings. There was a lot to choose from and most everything we ate was good to very good. I would definitely return to try new things if i were a local. A nice solid meal. Shout out to our excellent server who was very knowledgeable and passionate about the menu.
Dinner at e by Jose Andres - This was the meal we were most anticipating and unfortunately, it just wasn't mind blowing. The space is cool, the chefs with whom you interact (though note they are plating in front of you moreso than actually cooking) are fun and the presentation of the dishes is artful. But taste-wise, only a few were truly delicious. And one or two bordered on inedible. By far the best dishes were those that showcased the intense flavor of Jamon Iberico. Also enjoyed the foie gras preparation and a few of the initial bites were really tasty (particular a cracker made of chicken skin). On a whole, it seemed like style over substance, a fate that, for example, did NOT happen when we dined at Alinea in 2012. There everything was as delicious as it was beautifully presented.
Lunch at Five Fifty Pizza Bar - A straightforward pizza/pasta restaurant located near the sports book at the Aria. Good for a casual lunch or late night bite. We split a 16" pizza that hit the spot. Nothing particularly unique about it, but a good pizza nonetheless.
Raku/Sweets Raku - All of our robata items were nicely prepared, my favorite being a butter scallop. The raw fish was fresh as well. The meal highlight was definitely their house made tofu, which we tried cold and hot (agedashi tofu). I could eat those daily. Service was nice, too. All in all a great meal, but having spots of similar caliber like Yakitori Totto here in NYC, I don't know that Raku will leave a lasting impression on us, given all the hype for it on this board. Sweets Raku (which, also, reminded us of Chikalicious here in NYC) was awesome. Both the restaurant space and desserts served were beautiful and immaculate. It was such a treat to watch the ladies do their work. Their attention to detail and delicate touch were something to behold.
Dinner at Carnevino - This was a real mixed bag. The food was delicious but the ambiance was pretty underwhelming. The room is right off the casino so hearing cheers and screams while you eat is commonplace. And for some reason the restaurant thought blasting a Rolling Stones CD was a good idea. Service was competent but impersonal. But everything we ate was yummy. We started with a burrata caprese and two pastas -beef angnolotti in an onion ragu and spago with lamb ragu. All three were excellent. As our main course we split a 1.5 portion of the Riserva, aged for 7 months. An extremely flavorful cut of beef. We finished the meal off with a seasonally appropriate apple crepe.
Can't wait to come back again soon!