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Wynn/Encore food crawl...Okada/Wing Lei/Sinatra

l
LVI Mar 27, 2009 09:38 AM

Unconventional, yes, but decided that we would go to Okada with the expectation that if all were good we would make a meal of it there. And as you can surmise, all was not good. From all reports and reviews, one of the qualities of Okada seems to be the quality of ingredients, from ocean to land. So when I walked into the restaurant I was a little surprised by the lack of selection at the sushi bar. And to that, the appearance seemed to lack quality. By that I mean the fish certainly didn't appear to be as fresh as one would expect. But should we be judging a book by its cover? When it comes to sushi, you certainly get a very good preview.

We were seated at the robata bar as there were not 3 seats at the sushi bar together (6 empty seats. Parties of 2 at sushi bar all unwilling to move. Oh well.) We planned on dining here for the evening but left open the possibility that if quality lacked we would move on to another restaurant. As I have indicated in prior CH posts, I am pretty obsessed when it comes to food. I love discussing what our next meal is while we are eating present meal. So when our server came over we ordered 3 large beers and an order of Yellowtail Sashimi With Jalapeno. Then I explained to him that we are all pretty serious food lovers that are not your typical casino diner looking to eat. We were 3 adventurous food obsessed fanatics and asked him what he would recommend. When the 1st thing out of his mouth was a lobster roll I knew that our stay at the robata grill would be short lived. The yellowtail arrived and my suspicion when we walked in about the quality of the sushi was confirmed. The yellowtail had that old look to it. That white-ish opaque had been replaced by that faded look. And the flavor did in fact confirmed this. So we ordered a special tuna roll that was ho hum along w/4 of the 3 robata skewers, pork short rib, the filet and chicken/shishito pepper, and Chilean sea bass. All were fine, with the chicken/pepper being the best. However none were great. Huge disappointment for a sushi restaurant that prides itself on quality and diversity.

On to Wing Lei. Our intention was to order the Peking Duck and go to Sinatra for a pasta dish. I have in the past enjoyed Wing Lei. We were seated in the back room next to the bonsai trees. Service, while spotty at first was good. We ordered the duck. I am a HUGE Peking Duck fan. I mean seriously, what could be better than crispy duck skin, with a thin layer of duck fat and juicy duck meat all encased in a pancake w/scallions and hoisin sauce? This is followed by a lettuce leaf topped w/minced duck and vegetables. It was very good to excellent. Personally I was not a fan of the hoisin sauce they use as it had that sheen of corn syrup sweetener to it. That was the weak link to the dish and kept me from really loving it. (For anybody who cares, if Peking Duck is something you like, next time in NYC try the Peking Duck House. Wonderful and reasonable.) If I had the urge for Peking Duck in Las Vegas again I would certainly go back but only if I was up money because at $88 per duck, not really sure it's worth the tariff.

And on to Sinatra (actually our plan was to go to Alex for a couple of pastas but they were closed. Plus, we were not sure how receptive they would be for us to just have a couple of small dishes. In this economy my guess is that we would have been seated immediately. Next time I suppose.). From the outset I loved this place. From the manager to the ambiance to the food (the bartender is another story. Guy couldn't have been more strung out and completely lacked any personality! My guess is when I go back in September he will not be there.) We sat at the bar just because we wanted a more relaxed experience. The restaurant looks extremely comfortable. There seems to be a small outside area that could seat some parties (too cold early in March) and the main body of the restaurant is not too big. On to the food. The menu is not cluttered with and abundance of typical Italian fare but rather small concise collection of very good choices. With the assistance of the Manager, April (she could have been nicer) we decided on 3 dishes: The Anolotti (stuffed w/herbs and ricotta in butter parmesan chive sauce), Chitara (home made spaghetti w/mushrooms, butter and chives) and the Veal Milanese. The Anolotti was so light and so wonderful. Simple but magnificent. This is what pasta should be. Simple but magical. The Chitara (glorified hand made spaghetti) was just the same. Not overly sauced, perfect amount of assorted mushrooms (not button and crimini. Real variety, my guess includes, porcini, chestnut, oyster) and again, WONDERFUL flavor. And given that places in LV feel that it is alright to charge $40 for a pasta dish, these in the mid to upper $20's were fairly priced (still expensive but not silly $40 expensive). We ended w/the Veal Milanese. I am a HUGE Milanese fan. This was a good sized pounded thin chop ($50 I think) with a perfect brown crust. And instead of having the "salad already on top" it was to the side. Not sure if I like that or not. And it lacked a good amount of arugula (which is generally green of choice on the Milanese I have had) along with 4-5 pieces of endive. This to me needs tinkering. I liked it, no question but they need to offer more. I ran out of greens while still eating the meat. It was very good to excellent. Had the olive oil that the chop been fried in been of better quality (I will cut them some slack here as it was close to 10pm when we ordered on a Sunday night) it could have been excellent. Not sure if the oil was burnt or cooked in too many times but it had that very slightest of acrid after tastes. Not by any means over whelming, just in the background. Given the amount of food and alcohol consumed this evening we decided to forego dessert.

Sinatra was a joy. And after reading several positive posts here on CH I am glad that that we decided to go. This is undoubtedly one of the keepers in the Wynn restaurant stable.

*Just a quick note on SWITCH. I did not go but my brother and friend did (I happened to play in a poker tournament that went til 1am so I missed out...and gladly so! WINNA!). They had a very good dinner and they liked the "switching" thing, albeit a bit hoakie. They said they would go again. When I asked which was better, Sinatra or Switch, no hesitation whatsoever...Sinatra hands down

  1. fcclisa May 29, 2009 09:01 AM

    Sinatra's was truly elegant & memorable - my lobster risotto with pea purée was simply lovely & the atmosphere really heightened the experience... very romantic.....

    1. c
      climberdoc Mar 27, 2009 11:36 AM

      LVI

      Have you tried the tasting menu at Wing Lei? I have not heard any reviews and would like to have a least a tidbit of info before dropping $150 for it.

      13 Replies
      1. re: climberdoc
        l
        LVI Mar 27, 2009 12:53 PM

        No, I never had the tasting there. I have eaten there before and have been pleased. I can imagine a $150 tasting menu with things like shark fin soup and abalone. If you decide to try, please please report back. May have to add that to the September trip.

        1. re: LVI
          g
          grimaldi Mar 27, 2009 04:32 PM

          Can either one of you give me a list, from 1 to 10, of the best to worst restaurants at the Wynn/Encore megaplex? I've only been to SW Steakhouse, and will be visiting Encore for the first time in July. I wouldn't mind doing a restaurant crawl, but would rather stay away from the absolute awful.

          1. re: grimaldi
            c
            climberdoc Mar 27, 2009 05:41 PM

            That's an interesting exercise. I've not eaten at all of them, so I'll rate the ones I've been to. There is nothing at the Wynn that even comes close to awful.

            #1 Alex-one of the best restaurants in Vegas. Makes for a memorable evening

            #2 Sinatra-as LVI expressed, they really got this place right.

            #3 Bartolotta-excellent Italian seafood with some esoteric choices if desired

            #4 Daniel Bouloud-French bistro style food

            #5 Botero-notable steakhouse. Up with the best in Vegas.

            #6 Okada-Japanese with good sushi and teppan

            #7 Switch-cheesy atmosphere. Can't deny that the food is good though.

            #8 Stratta-although good, I'd expect more from the chef at Alex

            #9 Country Club-only had lunch here but excellent. Could be rated higher.

            #10 Tableau-good breakfast. I've not had dinner there.

            #11 Red 8-average asian food

            I've not dined at SW and Wing Lei. All the places I listed (except Red 8), I would return to in a heartbeat. IMHO Wynn/Encore is the best dining resort in town. Let's hear it from the Birdiemaker.

            1. re: climberdoc
              g
              grimaldi Mar 27, 2009 08:52 PM

              Thanks for the list, climberdoc.

              I have also been to Tableau -- forgot about that one. I'm definitely up for 3 or 4 of those listed. I'll probably stay away from the bottom four. A few more questions for you, if you don't mind? Is Daniel Boulud similar to Cafe Boulud in NYC? I'm not sure if you've ever been to his places in NYC. I've been to all of them and the menus seem alike between these two spots. Also, if you had the choice between Switch and Botero, which would you choose, particularly if you weren't necessarily going for steak? I have two other steak spots on my list (at other resorts) so I'm more interested in "the other stuff."

              Also, I'm not sure if you're the one who is as crazy about bread pudding as I am. If so, do any of these places get it right?

              Thanks again.

              1. re: grimaldi
                c
                climberdoc Mar 27, 2009 09:14 PM

                The best bread pudding I've had was at Sinatra. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.

                I enjoyed the ambiance and food a bit more at Botero. There were plenty of non-steak options, but it is definitely a steakhouse. While the menu at Switch is steak-heavy, it does not have a steakhouse feel. That could be a result of the millions that were spent on the whole switching thing. I found it a bit cheesy.

                I have not been to Boulud's NY outpost so I can't help you there. Check out the menu on the Wynn website and you maybe able to compare for yourself.

              2. re: climberdoc
                c
                climberdoc Mar 28, 2009 08:31 PM

                Any birdiemakers in the house?

                1. re: climberdoc
                  d
                  dgasser Jun 1, 2009 04:43 PM

                  I wouldn't disagree with this, although I'd put in the disclaimer that there's a *very* large step down between #10 and #11 on the list.

                  We haven't tried any of the new Encore places yet, but out of the Wynn eateries mentioned the only one we wouldn't return to is Red 8.

                  As others have mentioned, Wing Lei is probably a bit overpriced, but we've found the food and service to both be very good. We also really liked Stratta and thought it was very good value for the money last time we were there. Does it compare to Alex? Hell, no, but at 1/4 the price you shouldn't expect it to.

                  Tableau has one of the best breakfasts in Vegas. Haven't tried them for lunch or dinner.

            2. re: climberdoc
              SDGourmand Mar 28, 2009 07:10 AM

              I have had the tasting there and thought it was a rip off. I went once and wouldn't go back.

              1. re: SDGourmand
                c
                climberdoc Mar 28, 2009 08:33 PM

                Why was DB a ripoff? Why would you not go back? Not many have such strong negative feelings about the place. The chowhounds are anxiously awaiting your explanation. Is this acceptable mod?

                1. re: climberdoc
                  SDGourmand Mar 29, 2009 07:52 AM

                  By DB you mean Boulud correct? I was talking about the wing lei tasting being a rip off. Boulud was ok food from what I remember but I haven't been in about 2 years so I can't really comment on it. From what I remember it was more about the show outside than the food.

                  And as to why I thought WL was rip off, I don't feel American's especially young Americans get the same service as say an asian person would. I found the service to be rather demeaning. I've been in the restaurant industry for 10 years and the staff there looked at my gf and I as if we were some spoiled kids that knew nothing. I really despise when people judge you before they know you. As for the food it was no better than my local take out place just 5 times more expensive.

                  1. re: SDGourmand
                    c
                    climberdoc Mar 29, 2009 08:48 AM

                    I've heard that same complaint about WL a couple of times now, that it was expensive and not much better than average Chinese food. I've also seen a couple glowing recs. Either way, I've still not tried it. I remain intrigued by their tasting menu (I'm way into tasting menus). I've not seen any comments on that particular menu. There's no justification for demeaning service when you're paying top-dollar at WL for the expectation of top-notch service.

                    1. re: climberdoc
                      SDGourmand Mar 29, 2009 09:04 AM

                      I'm a huge fan of tasting menu's as well and thought a tasting would be the only true way to experience wing lei for what it is. Unfortunately I did and it's not worth it.

                      1. re: climberdoc
                        l
                        LVI Mar 30, 2009 08:01 AM

                        I would tend to agree with the service assessment at Wing Lei. There was an edge to our server that was very unpleasant, especially when he realized that we were not there to spend a ton of money. And it got worse when he realized that we were there to eat just 1 order of the Peking Duck. If the restaurant were packed then I may have felt bad about what we were doing (never an excuse for bad service). However, the place was about half filled and when we left (9:30pm) there were only 2 tables.

              2. c
                climberdoc Mar 27, 2009 11:35 AM

                Nice report LVI.

                I'm glad you enjoyed Sinatra. I loved my experience there as you did. I gave it high recs in a couple of posts. I'm always a bit apprehensive to recommend places that can come of as "gimmicky". There is a genuineness about Sinatra. You really feel the respect that Wynn has for Sinatra, in the wonderful food and venue that he dedicated to his memory. I agree that the pastas were top-notch. Try their bread pudding dessert next time. It was amazing!

                Although Switch has very good food, it does not compare to Sinatra on any level (except for gimmickyness).

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