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Feb 4, 2010 01:50 PM

Innovative Food in Vegas

Hey all,

Long time reader - first time poster!

The wife and I going to vegas next month and we were looking for recs on innovative cuisine - probably of the French/New American variety. We live in the SF Bay Area and eat out there so don't want any of the SF places (Michael Mina, Fleur de Lys, Ogden, Bouchon etc.). While we have no problem with fancy restaurants it definitely doesn't have to be fancy. What we like is to experience food in ways that we haven't seen it done before...I think y'all know what we mean...



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  1. When you read the lists of all of the chefs that have a presence in Las Vegas it might appear to be an invitation to the kind of creativity that you are looking for, but one of the unfortunate truths of living here is that it does not turn out to be the case. So many of the big names play it rather safe, rarely turning their menus over, partially a concession to the clientele, and also because few of the chefs behind the marquees are ever in the kitchens. But there is hope. Twist (Aria), Sage (Aria), Alex (Wynn), Bar Charlie (Palazzo), Raku (off strip on Spring Mountain) and both the Joel Robuchon (MGM Grand) and Guy Savoy (Caesars Palace) properties would make a good starting point.

    3 Replies
    1. re: QAW

      Thanks - that has been my impression to previous visits though I wasn't sure what has changed. Sage looks like it could be an interesting menu.

      To what extent is Robuchon and Savoy worth the price? We don't mind dropping a small fortune at a great place as long as the place is in fact great. i.e. Is it French Laundry quality or just French Laundry price (due to the vegas surcharge)?



      1. re: bennyscuba

        There is an open thread on Robuchon and Savoy that might help to clarify things a bit, or perhaps muddle them even more - . At those price points the value notions become extremely esoteric.

        1. re: bennyscuba

          We dined at Sage back in Dec and it was pretty good. I specially enjoyed the bacon bread, steak, all the veggies and the delicous desserts. We also met the chef and he was great.

      2. Given what you're looking for, one spot stands out in my view: Bar Charlie. The preparations and ambience will be something you've not experienced before, and all in a good way.

        2 Replies
        1. re: mcgrath

          How long does a dinner at Bar Charlie last? Is it closer to 1 hr or 3 hrs? Do you think it would work well as a late night meal? We get in around 9pm on Friday - so would probably want a 10 reservation (which seems to be their last reservation). The menu seems to be good for late night eating i.e. not very heavy...but if its a 3 hr meal - would probably do it Saturday night - so can really focus on what we're getting...


          1. re: bennyscuba

            Saturday would probably be a better way to get the full experience. One of the standout aspects of a Bar Charlie evening is the ability to converse with Chef Hiroo course-by-course, as he discusses many of the thought processes that went into each creation. It would probably be a good general idea to have about two hours available, with some flexibility. Most of the courses are indeed light, but with a real complexity of flavor and texture.

        2. I haven't been to Bar Charlie although I am sure it is great. I can reccomend Sage. The menu is definitely New American, and although I only ate at the bar the service was top notch. They have a nice craft beer selection and offer an absynthe tasting experience if your looking for something really different. Finally, unlike some of the other Celebrity restaurants, I believe Chef McClain has relocated out here to Vegas, he hasn't just put his name on the window.

          1 Reply
          1. re: curiouscook

            Yep. I'm excited about trying Sage soon. It really sounds like something different, some real innovation that we'll appreciate here in Vegas. It's even better that Chef Shawn McClain is actually here and will be here to stay. Nothing beats actually having the "celebrity chef" in the kitchen! :-)

          2. Do you have a Charlie Palmer restaurant in SF? If not (or if you're not familiar with what he does), then try Aureole at Mandalay Bay. It's New American "Surf & Turf" glammed up, given a French twist, and paired with the best wines around.

            If you'll be renting a car or be willing to take a taxi WAY off Strip, you'll have fun at Todd's Unique Dining in Henderson (go south on Las Vegas Blvd to Sunset, turn left on Sunset, and go straight ahead to Green Valley Pkwy and make a left, the shopping center is on the right hand side). Chef Todd Clore's food is never boring, but always tasty... And not as expensive as you'd think.

            2 Replies
            1. re: atdleft

              We don't have Charlie Palmer - but did eat at Aureole when we were there a few years ago - it was a wonderful not to mention a beautiful restaurant - loved watching the people grab wines while on bungees!

              I guess that opens though another question, to what extent should one expect the meals at these places to change over time? Would a meal 2 years ago be pretty similar to one today or are the high end places (at least) changing around their menus seasonally?

              1. re: bennyscuba

                It depends. Bradley Ogden at Caesars changes its menu seasonally (another reason why I'll be going for my b-day!), but Le Cirque and Picasso have sometimes come under fire for menu stagnancy. Aureole seems to be in the former camp, as I just noticed they changed their menu for early spring...


                And lowered their prix fixe menu price to $45 from 5:30 to 6:30 PM! It may be worth another try just to see what new dishes you'll find. And for a little extra, you can dine at the VERY romantic and intimate Swan Court. :-)