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Vegas: Bar Charlie, stunning!

l
LVI Oct 9, 2008 10:56 AM

I was hoping to get a full menu of our evenings delights but that has yet to come. So I am going to comment on over all experience @ Bar Charlie w/out going into specifics. If you want that go to foggy towns wonderful review (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/548882) from Aug 15th as it is as in-depth as most would want.

In a nut shell, IMHO Bar Charlie is the most spectacular restaurant on the Las Vegas restaurant scene, bar none! There is nothing that even comes close. HOWEVER, and this is a HUGE however, it is not for everyone. It is the most anti-Vegas dining experience. And by that I mean most Vegas tourists are not hip to spending $400 for a 4 hour dinner. And that is what you will have to budget for in terms of $ and time. And most locals (I have several friends that live in the area so I am speaking for them) are not spending that sum of money, especially in this economic down turn. Let alone making the time commitment of 4 hours is unfathomable for most. So if you have some place to go and are on a budget, this is not the place.

The dining here is at a semi-circle bar (not really like L'Atelier as the food and prep are on the other side of the counter, not the other side of the room) where the chefs prepare your food in a sort of Kaiseki style experience. The food is as diverse and eclectic as the chefs who prepare it. Without going into many particulars I was enthralled with my experience. The 2 chefs that I can remember were Chef Hiro and Chef Shawn. I believe Chef Hiro is the chef de cuisine while Chef Shawn is one of the many restaurants talented underlings. Both were engaging and informative and are willing to discuss and educate you through your dining experience. Conversely, if your wish is to dine in solitude then your wish is their command. The quality and freshness of the ingredients is spectacular. Years ago being in the desert meant that fresh fish was almost impossible. Today w/the exploding tourist industry there are countless flights in and out of LAS every hour of every day. There was a fish that we dined on that the chef had literally just been delivered that we ate. It was a Japanese snapper that was in the water the previous day. And yes I know it all comes at a price but that is the way of the world. And for an experience like this I am willing to pay. This is not an everyday meal and not even a once a month thing. But once a year when budgeted for (and still employed for that matter as I work in finance...eeeeeeeeeeek!). You can get away for less than the $400 I mentioned above. We decided to let Desmond (I will continue to call him Desi. Charlie Trotter in all his polish and refinement decides to call his employees by their full name. I remember learning that from my Chicago dining experience.) decide what we would be drinking that evening. And what a wonderful and diverse collection of beverages that followed. I highly recommend, if you can afford, deciding this route. Desi's experience and wealth of knowledge is endless and I would put him up against the best LV has to offer in terms of sommeliers.

And one last bit. Sadly, I am not sure the longevity of Bar Charlie and Charlie Trotters. As I mentioned above, the experience is unmatched. However Las Vegas is not kind to restaurants that cater to a miniscule crowd. And by that I mean the crowd that is willing to spend that much $ and time on a singular dining experience. I can attest to that 1st hand. Of our group (6 of us) only 2-3 were thoroughly blown away. The others liked it but 1/2 way through they were looking to go out and play craps or whatever. I should have known better than to bring people that were not total foodie freaks like me...lesson learned. The main restaurant was completely empty except for one table. This is a meal that needs time. Most of these dishes cannot be brought in rapid-fire succession, nor would I think you would want them to. In NYC his concept works and competes w/the top 3 restaurants in the city. In Las Vegas I do not think this concept works. I hope I am proven wrong and at this time next year I am providing yet another glowing review.

  1. gringo_stu Oct 9, 2008 11:40 AM

    Couldn't agree more LVI. Just got back from there myself and a near 4 and and half hours meal. Perhaps the best meal I have ever had, simply amazing.

    I hope they have a long term business plan. Hiro mentioned to me he can't wait to be serving 14 people at once, I imagine that's going to be some time away in the current climate.

    --
    Stuart
    http://www.gastronomicslc.com

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