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Dec 23, 2008 06:56 AM

Botero Steakhouse at Encore

My time off happened to correspond to the opening of Encore so here we are staying in the hotel. While exploring yesterday (opening day) we liked to looks of Botero Steakhouse so a reservation was made. I know it's a risk to dine at a restaurant on its opening night but what the heck.

The exec/celeb chef at Botero is Mark LaRusso of Tableau and Michael Mina fame. Seems that the trend it for the celeb chefs to move into steakhouses (i.e. Puck-Cut, Mina-Stripsteak, Colichio-Craft, Lagasse-Delmonico, etc.). Since I've had some great experiences at Tableau (mostly breakfast/lunch) I was intrigued by the possibilities.

The restaurant is quite attractive. You enter through the bar into a grand circular room with the Encore pools right outside the window. The tables are circular and square and the white chairs with armrests are quite comfortable. The waitstaff is dressed very casually in black t-shirts in fact. Right off the bat, botero comes off as one of the "new American steakhouses" rather than the typical dark, wooden oldschool places of steakhouses past.

The appetizer menu is quite progressive with many seafood options. There were a few tartare and sashimi options which looked quite attractive but I opted for the beet salad with goat cheese. This was one of the better preparations of this I have had. Perfectly textured and spiced beets alongside what seemed like a large serving of goat and a few crispy crackers. The goat cheese was unbelievably soft and delicious. This was a nearly flawless dish which I would absolutely order again.

My wife ordered the crab agnolotti which she enjoyed a lot.

Excellent selection of breads. Sourdough, cranberry, walnut, olive. I had the cranberry which was crispy on the outside yet soft on the inside and filled with sweet cranberries.

The entree menu consists of predominantly steaks (surprise) but also has a few fish, chicken and lamb selections. There is the token wagyu selection for a ridiculous cost but it seems like the focus here is on American beef.

We had the Chateuabriand for two which came out already sliced and cooked medium rare as ordered. It was presented in a copper pot which was a nice touch. The crust was perfectly done and really added to the experience. I've had many filets in my time and this was one of the better ones. It's been many years since I've experienced a life-changing filet experience though. I suspect that I may have to upgrade to wagyu to achieve this at this point in my steakeating career.

Many of the sides looked appetizing and decadent. We read in the Wynn Hotel magazine the LaRusso is famous for his tatertot side so we gave it a go. I had a bit of trepidation about this choice with memories of hot lunches in grade school. They did not disappoint however. Hard crunchy outside with a creamy delicious inside. There was obviously more inside than just potato. The serving was actually quite small and we ran out before we were finished with the steak. We ended up ordering more which is quite unusual for us.

We opted out of dessert being that the Wynn gave us a gift of fine chocolates which were waiting for us in the room.

Overall, Botero was an excellent experience. It will likely be talked about along with the better steakhouses in Vegas like CUT, Craft and Stripsteak. Was it better than those places? I don't know, I'd probably have to try it again. It's definitely in the same league though. I'd return again without a doubt though.

There are two other fine dining restaurants in the Encore. Sinatra's is an Italian venue decorated with pics of old blue eyes. We were not able to see inside since Steve Wynn had his opening party there last night. The other restaurant is Switch which in classic Vegas style changes its walls and I guess its entire theme midmeal. I did not actually witness this change, but we did check out the menu. It was intriguing but seemed heavy on the steaks. Like Palazzo, things at Encore seem a bit steak heavy.

Don't know where we are going to dine tonight. Perhaps Sinatras.

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  1. This is just a thought on the cuisine at Switch but my feeling is that as these new places open (places that were planned and funded well before the current economic crisis had crippled the economy) have had to reassess their business plans. And one of the ways to do such is to make sure a restaurant does not burn too much capital. Highly perishable foods are a massive capital drain on a restaurant and by cramming a bunch of beef products on the menu is a very successful way to preserve capital. Try serving a 28 dry aged piece if Dover sole. Beef's shelf life far exceeds that of most everything else.

    Seafood is a killer. Not only does it degrade quickly it is much more susceptible to market pricings than beef is. (Look at a place like Bar Charlie in the Palazzo. I am hoping and praying that Sheldon Adelson and the folks running the Sands keep an eye to the future and let Restaurant Charlie/Bar Charlie remain in the red for as long as this economic mess persists as Bar Charlie is one of the great restaurants of Las Vegas and should pay dividends.) So initially a restaurant can start out as "American" or "eclectic" and as time passes and we can come out of this economic malaise and the deep pocketed tourist return to Las Vegas, their menus will become more diverse. Again these are just my musings but IMHO, it makes sense. And I suppose the name is a clever way of letting them "switch" the cuisine as they feel fit...

    3 Replies
    1. re: LVI

      Good point LVI

      I hope that this switch you mentioned takes place. One can only eat so many steaks.

      1. re: climberdoc

        Climber. I just read your excellent review after viewing your reply to my post about my upcoming birthday dinner. If I was a Steakhouse person, Botero sounds pretty good. But, I'm not and my wife really is not. Thus, we are going to pass on the Encore restaurants. I think I am going to do my part to help one of the CT places stay open. I'll post reviews of my meals when I return. Again, thanks for your help.

      2. re: LVI

        I would anticipate many business plans being reassessed. I tend to agree, since so many of these developments were finalized a year, or so, out. Same for some of the condo developments. Will be interesting to see how things shake out.

        I have begun to get all sorts of great lodging deals in LV, but all reports seem to indicate that the dining is still going very strong. Hope that the trend continues, as I would hate to think that the dining in LV might revert to "all you can eat" buffets.


      3. Thank you for the comprehensive review. It's been some time, since we had a board meeting in LV, so I'm not up on some of the more recent changes. As I only go along for the dining, we only go on business. Though not really a "steakhouse sorta' guy," this one sounds worth doing.

        Let us know about Sinatra's. The only near-LV Italian, that has impressed me was at Green Valley Ranch. Have yet to try some, like B&B, so do not really know some of the heavy-hitters at all.

        For an earth-shattering filet experience, I have to give the nod to an in-resort Northern Italian restaurant (Grand Hyatt) in Poipu, Kaua`i, HI. Was looking at other fare, and the server (wife of the sommelier at the Beach House, where we had dined and harassed her husband the night before) steered me towards their filet - Big Island beef and better than any Kobe, American Kobe or Wagyu, that I have ever had. It lept to #1. Too bad that my poor wife's Osso Bucco was not anywhere that level. Who would have thought that a Northern Italian restaurant in a resort on Kaua`i would do a world-class filet, and a poor OB? Sometimes, one gets the surprise of their lives. Previous #1 was at the Prince of Wales (now gone) at the Del, SD, CA, and was #5 Kobe. Did have a great Wagyu filet at Argyle, Aviara Four Seasons, La Jolla, CA, that came in at about #4.

        Great report and makes me want to go.



        2 Replies
        1. re: Bill Hunt

          I took my wife (then my fiance) to the Prince of Wales for her birthday in 04. That was quite a memorable meal with unbeatable scenery. It's a real shame that they closed it down. After reading your post, I wish I'd ordered the filet.

          We were initially planning on going to the Kauai Hyatt for our honeymoon but ended up at Four Seasons Hualalai instead. No regrets there. We got the privilege of dining at Alan Wong's Hualalai Grill which is one of my favorite restaurants.

          Heading to Sinatra this coming Sunday night. I'll let you know how it goes.

          1. re: climberdoc

            You did not do badly. We really enjoyed both higher-end restaurants there, Pahu i`a and Alan Wong's Hualalai Grille. Some have not had the wonderful experience that we did, at AW's, but our meal was spectacular, as was the service. My wife had stated that she will not go back to the Big Island, unless I take her to the Four Seasons.

            I feel your pain on PofW at the Del. I had just recommended it, when I was informed that it was no longer there. I'm not clear on the replacement, but doubt that it can compete with our experiences there. We've lost some nice fine-dining restaurants in our resorts in PHX, as well. Sign of the times, I guess.

            Again, thanks,