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Chef and Wine Professional need advice on MUST do's for my first trip to Vegas

Quick background....
Both MAJOR FOODIES...
Wife...CIA grad and Pastry Chef (so desserts must be top notch)(she no longer cooks but you know once a chef always a chef)
Me...Certified Sommelier(on my way to Master someday?) and a VERY adventurous eater

Both travelling to Vegas in mid-December with my wife's sisters and spouses(6 people total).....
This is my very first time to Vegas and I have asked a few of my wine buddies but I want a few fellow ChowHound's two cents.....

1st night, Tues 13 Dec2011 will be dinner for all couples... 4.5 adventurous eaters and 1.5 not so

-Willing to travel by cab or any means necessary if the experience is worth it
-Budget upper end of moderate to expensive..again if the experience is worth it
-Open to most types of cuisines, prefer rich and decadent
IMPORTANT-----Really want a dining experience, jackets and cocktail dresses with classic fine dining ambience, exceptional quality, great presentation, outstanding service, creative menu.. prefer NOT to see fellow patrons in t-shirts and ballcaps (this really can spoil the evening for us, America has gotten WAY too casual)..<stepping down from soapbox>

Currently under consideration...
=Michael Mina's- which one has steaks cooked in Beurre Monte(butter)?
=Jaleo's - I LOVE paella!
=Aureole - Would likee to see the Wine Angels
=Olive - Friend knows the sommelier there (possibly free wine!)
=Hugo's - sounds like it could be fun and tasty in old school Vegas way
=Would consider any Daniel Boulud or Jean George suggestions as well

Okay that is night one and THANK YOU to anyone that has read on. I know this is a lengthy post.

2nd night, Weds 14Dec2011..Boy's night=BUFFET night...girls are going to a CdSoleil show and we have stretchy pants ready to go
-Same criteria as above, travel and budget are open if experience is worth it
MUST HAVES:
-Quality Crab legs, prefer Alaskan King Crab but will settle for higher quality of other species shellfish, Lobster a major bonus
-Prime Rib of above average quality, would like an overall great carving station
-Comfy booth, we plan to be here for quite a while

THANK YOU AGAIN to anyone and everyone that read this long posts and offers some wisdom and insight....

CHEERS
Roy aka WineGuyDFW

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  1. What do you consider to be upper end of moderate to expensive? Pretty much all the restaurants are business casual. I doubt you'll find a restaurant with everyone dressed in jackets and cocktail dresses. The only buffet I know of that serve lobster are the Rio (spiny lobster and not Maine lobster and dried out) and Aria ($10 extra for a half a lobster tail.) There are no buffets that serve all you can eat Maine lobster. The buffets that were serving Alaskan King crab legs are now serving snow crab.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Eric

      Moderate would be $75-100 average per person for 3+ courses...Expensive would enter the $150+ per person.
      We were afraid of the biz casual dominance in most places, a few of you fellow chowhounds pointed out some likely hat and jeans free ideas that we are thinking about.
      I have already crossed Rio off the list, too many poor marks.
      Do you believe the buffets have switch from Alaska King due to cost?
      Thanks for all your input

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Great list..
        You must dine at Lotus of Siam for either lunch or dinner...they have a buffet but I do the menu..it is so off the chain good..best Thai I have ever ever had.
        I like Country Club at Wynn and so miss Alex.
        City Center is really going on had drinks at Chandelier last month at the Cosmo hotel that was incredible...great hotel and had happy hour at Todd English's P.U.B.

        1. Vegas is a tourist town and not very many restaurants require anything more than business casual. Even then, you will often see a few people in jeans or even shorts and a t-shirt.

          The two most "upscale" restaurants aren't on your list:
          L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon
          é by josé andrés <--this will satisfy your want for fine food and a good experience, plus you can talk chef talk to the four chefs who plate table-side for you.

          You should also go to Scarpetta. I've heard nothing but rave reviews for it.

          For buffet, Wynn usually has Alaskan king crab, although sometimes they substitute with a large spiny snow crab if king crab is too expensive. Take a plate of crab to the grill and ask them to heat them up for you. They'll get crispy at the edges, juicy in the flesh, and have a very nice (and light) mesquite flavor. Squeeze on a bit of lemon and it's perfect.

          The School of Pastry Design is in Vegas and is run by Chef Chris Hanmer, who just won Top Chef Just Desserts. He gives one-on-one or small group classes on sugar and chocolate. Since it seems you don't really need instruction on pastry, he also does a molecular gastronomy course. The school is within a small restaurant supply store which sells chemicals, additives, silicon molds, etc.

          1 Reply
          1. re: ah6tyfour

            Thank you for your insight...I had é on my radar, but read $250 a person and knew thought that might be a bit much per person for the whole group to agree on. L'Atelier though may be spot on! We like the menu and concept and that has climbed right up to the top THANKS! With Scarpetta right behind it along side Mina.

            Great tip on the crab at Wynn's. I hear it can be quite a wait, even on a week night. Is it worth it?

          2. Given your desire for fine dining ambience, I'd go with Aureole and sit in the Swan Court.
            You won't be able to see the wine angels from that part of the room though.
            Swan Court is one of the least likely places to see fellow diners in t-shirts and ballcaps short of Robuchon.

            Michael Mina's steak place in Mandalay Bay, Strip Steak, does a butter cooked prime rib which is then grilled. It's not bad. Ambience is okay but the front of the restaurant is big glass walls open to the passing crowds on their way to/from the food court and convention center.

            Michael Mina in Bellagio is a very nice room. Much nicer than the one at MGM Grand.

            I've always had excellent service at the above places.

            BTW, Daniel Boulud closed a while ago.

            2 Replies
            1. re: zippyh

              Swan Court at Aureole, just made the new list too. Wife is reviewing the menu now.
              Don't really want to gaze at the herds of fellow tourists while eating, so Mina's may get bumped off.

              Thanks

              1. re: WineguyDFW

                BTW, the Swan Court menu is slightly different from the standard ala carte menu. It's a fixed price 3 course menu with choice of starter, main, dessert, plus a side. There's a premium for some of the course. The choices are everything that's on the standard menu. There are also the tasting menus available.

                I seem to recall Swan Court patrons also get a more extensive amuse and something extra with dessert.