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3.5 days in December--would appreciate dinner comments and help with lunch options

My wife and I are planning 4 nights in Vegas staring on Christmas itself and are putting together an itinerary focused on meals, as we usually do. We enjoy fine dining and tasting menus, but will eat anything anywhere as long as it is delicious. "Dining fatigue" usually not an issue, but a little diversity is always nice. We're staying in the CityCenter area and will have our own car.

This is currently what we have:

Day 1 (Christmas Day):
Dinner: L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon vs Joel Robuchon

Day 2:
Lunch: ?
Dinner: é by José Andrés (confirmed and held for us)

Day 3:
Lunch: ?
Dinner: Twist vs ? (must be done by 10:00PM for O at the Bellagio)

Day 4:
Lunch: ?
Dinner: Raku

Day 5:
Breakfast: ? (something quick before hitting the freeway back to So Cal)

With blowout itineraries like this, we usually don't do breakfast. My main questions are those lunches. A buffet one day for the experience wouldn't be out of the question. Since we have our car, off-Strip suggestions are in play. I hear good things about Bachi Burger. Lotus of Siam seems to be one of those "must-try" places, but reading about it makes me wonder if it's relying on its reputation.

Deciding between L'Atelier or Joel Robuchon proper. Focusing on the food only and not price, service, or environment, can someone go through the basic difference between the two and why we would choose one over the other?

I've read the mixed opinions on Twist and I'm very open to changing it. We already have tickets to O at 10:00PM, so we would need to be done to make it to the Bellagio. No problems eating early to get the full experience somewhere instead of an abbreviated pre-theater menu. A place on the Strip would be more appropriate so we don't have to worry driving back in time.

Looking forward to something completely different at Raku and already have the reservation, so would prefer not to change that one.

Thanks for all your help!

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  1. For your evening that ends with "O" at the Bellagio....

    1. Early drinks at Petrossian....some caviar and champagne

    2. The tasting menu at Picasso (window seat at the fountains)

    3. "O"

    4. Late night drinks back at Aria or Mandarin Oriental

    For lunch...How about La Cave at the Wynn....wonderful tapas overlooking their gardens?...Not too heavy, charming atmosphere, excellent product.

    2 Replies
    1. re: VegasGourmet

      Thanks for the suggestions! We don't drink, but will keep Picasso in mind. Not that things are very far in that part of the Strip, but it would be convenient for the show.

      Out of curiosity, how is "La Cave" pronounced? "Cave" like "brave" or "cah-VAY" or "CAH-vey"?

      1. re: Ponder99

        Agree that La Cave is a great choice throughout the day. Went there 3 times (cocktail/snack pre-show, dinner and late night) during my last stay at Wynn. Intimate atmosphere (tough to achieve in a giant casino) with tasty small plates at reasonable prices.

        Ponder, fyi, from memory, I think the pronunciation of La Cave is none of the options you list. I consistently hear "Cave" as one syllable rhyming with "caw."

    2. Lotus is most definitely not relying on its reputation. We go every time we are in LV. Outstanding wine list (esp. Riesling) in depth and price.

      L'atelier over JR proper. Just can't get past JR pricing-even for Vegas. Just wasn't worth the coin.

      You will love e.

      7 Replies
      1. re: HoosierFoodie

        Thanks! Any particular dishes we should consider if we go to LoS? I'll admit that I haven't done that much homework on it other than general reviews and don't know what they are known for.

        Looks like you and uhockey disagree about L'Atelier and JR. Disregarding price or perceived value (which is not a consideration for us), which did you feel had better food?

        1. re: Ponder99

          Been to both. JR thrice. L'At once. It isn't the room that keeps me going back. Bang for the buck, inclusive of the bread service, cheeses, and MOST OF ALL food quality JR is Michelin 3* from start to end.


          1. re: Ponder99

            Re: Lotus, do you eat much Thai food in L.A.? If so, then I'd focus on the many dishes that you can't find easily there. Take a look at the northern menu outstanding khao soi, the Northern larb, the chili dips, for example), chef's and seafood specialties. Try the crispy rice with sour pork appetizer, LOS also does a great job with its charcoal grill. The whole catfish and steak are outstanding. But many of the Thai standards are outstanding here: the drunken noodle seabass, the hoh mok with either seabass or catfish, the papaya salad, etc.

            1. re: Dave Feldman

              In your opinion, for those who've done LOS and Jitlada, how does Chada Thai compare?


              1. re: uhockey

                I ate at Jitlada a LOT right after Jazz and Tui too over the restaurant in 2006 until around 2009. At first, I was tremendously excited about trying southern dishes I'd never had before. One of my friends, who doesn't like hot food, went bonkers for the rice salad (which I also love), so we ate many lunches there. She was content ordering the rice salad and maybe a larb, while I kept trying new dishes.

                Despite the Southern dishes, Jitlada is much closer to LOS in spirit than Chada. Like Lotus, the current owners took over an existing menu and kept the old dishes, including ones they never would have put on the menu to begin with if they the first owners. J and LOS both have far bigger menus than Lotus, and I think J has many more clinkers. I just don't think J's cooking has the finesse of LOS.

                Chada doesn't have nearly as many "standard-issue" dishes as LOS or J, and a decent percentage of the offerings can't be found at any other Thai restaurant in Las Vegas. One of the partners, Aime Wanmaneesiri, is from Phuket, and she has inspired a bunch of Southern dishes at Chada. The cooking is more refined than J's.

                The feel of Chada is totally different from J or LOS. It is not just smaller, but mellower (despite rock music playing), with subdued lighting. You can kick back with some wine and eat less than a full meal and feel no pressure. The staff is young, charming, and helpful. You can fashion great meals at Chada, and it has gotten more consistent as it has found its sea legs.

                Chada has a terrific wine program, but I don't think that most of the waitstaff is that knowledgeable about it. You might want to have your waiter ask Bank to match your meal with appropriate wine(s) and/or beer.

                Generally, though, when Chada and LOS offer the same dish, I prefer LOS's version. But Chada offers a twist on almost everything it makes, and there are so many one-of-a-kind dishes at Chada that I think it's a must visit for anyone interested in Thai food.

                1. re: Dave Feldman

                  That should have read: J and LOS both have far bigger menus than CHADA, and I think J has many more clinkers.

          2. re: HoosierFoodie

            I haven't been to L'Atelier, so I cannot compare the quality of the food. However, I have to disagree about Robuchon. Yes, it was by far the most expensive restaurant I've been to, but it was definitely worth it, and I would do it again if given the opportunity.

          3. Day 1:
            If you get to town early enough, Bouchon for Christmas brunch is amazing (though I guess you are from So Cal, so perhaps you have been to the BH location)
            As to L'Atelier vs. Joel Robuchon, there is no comparison. The first is really good small bites and a few primary plates, the later is fully composed and brilliant dishes with more technique.

            Day 2:
            Head out to Marche Bacchus and, if warm enough, eat outdoors by the water. Being from So Cal, if you are a foie gras fan, this is where to get your fix. Lotus of Siam could be a good option here as well - it is very good Thai, not just resting on its laurels.

            Day 3:
            Lunch - if you are into beer, consider Public House at the Venetian. Great gastropub type food, or if you want to get off strip there is Honey Salt. China Poblano could also be considered here.
            I personally think Twist is the best restaurant in Vegas and if you eat early you'll EASILY be out in time for O - you could leisurely walk through the tasting and walk to Bellagio in that time.

            Day 4:
            Border Grill's brunch at Mandalay Bay is excellent (again, being from So Cal this may not be relevant to you.)
            Keep Raku - it is worth the hype.

            Day 5:
            How quick? Could do Border Grill here, or consider MoZen since you are staying nearby. Pastry at Jean Phillipe could also work.


            9 Replies
            1. re: uhockey

              Thanks for the comments. Should have added that we don't drink, so no interest in beer, cocktails, or wine lists.

              You're right in that Bouchon and Border Grill aren't that interesting to us due to their presence in LA.

              Foie gras is a high priority due to the (ridiculous) ban in CA.

              China Poblano looks similar to the Sunday dim sum at the defunct Cafe Atlantico in DC. Really like Jose Andres, but will probably pass on another TFG place since we are already doing é this trip. (We also had a great meal at SAAM at The Bazaar within the past year and are going to try for minibar during a DC revisit early next year.)

              Breakfast on Day 5 could be anything, but we're thinking of getting out pretty early (8-9AM) to try to hit as little Sunday traffic as possible back to So Cal.

              One of those days we will head out to the Hoover Dam, so that might help direct lunch options.

              1. re: Ponder99

                End your trip and begin day 5 with a delightful Sunday brunch/breakfast in the Four Seasons at the Verandah. Serene setting, peaceful, wonderful service and food is excellent. Love the Huevos Rancheros and think the food quality of their brunch is 2nd to none. Not as many choices as the big hotels but quality far surpasses.

                1. re: LVI

                  Love love love the Four Seasons Verandah for breaklfast/brunch.

                  LOS of is some of the best Thai and can't wait to chow down next month and I'm bringing my cooler so I can get my fave entrees to go..

                  La Cave sounds perfect at the Wynn and look forward to dining there.

                  1. re: Beach Chick

                    Tough to gauge from the website - does the brunch include all the items from the standard breakfast ALC menu or is it somehow different?


                    1. re: uhockey

                      Off the menu everyday breakfast and later hours for the breakfast buffet.
                      Haven't been since last year, so things might have changed.
                      I'll be there second week of Dec.
                      Gotta get my LOS fix!

                      1. re: Beach Chick

                        Understood, but how do the offerings on the buffet differ from those ALC?


                        1. re: uhockey

                          Only had off the menu breakfast which was fab..
                          Friends have had the brunch buffet and loved it.

                    2. re: Beach Chick

                      BC...always like your postings.....glad you agree with Le Cave.....especially overlooking the gardens...absolutely lovely.... :-)

              2. I highly recommend the lunch special at Estiatorio Milo's at the Cosmopolitan

                1. definitely Bachi Burger for lunch...heading to Vegas later this week and we can't wait to go back there!!
                  Lotus of Siam has been a staple for our catering convention group get together for years now. Haven't had a bad meal there yet, and can still taste the crispy rice...just around the corner from strip.
                  Had a fabulous lunch at Bobby Flays Mesa Grill also. I know you said no breakfasts...but Bouchon is fab!!!!


                  1. I have been to both Joel Robuchon places. L'Atelier is very hip and fun and the food is wonderful. JR proper is extraordinary - the restaurant is like a jewel box and everything is extra special. The bread and butter alone is worth it. Both times I have been we did 4 courses and added a cheese course. I am going again in two weeks and my friends are pushing for the full tasting menu (16 courses I think). For Christmas I would choose JR proper for a special dinner with my husband and save L'Atelier for another time maybe with a group. Oh and the petite four cart at the end is fantastic. If you are too full they will put a box together for you to take and enjoy later. It is really a fantastic experience. Either way tell us what you decide.

                    1. You should consider Le Cirque for one of your dinners. I much prefer it to L'Atalier...and, it's significantly less expensive than JR.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: josephnl

                        I completely agree
                        Le cirque is exceptional and very reasonably priced.
                        They are also extremely accommodating.

                      2. Thanks to everyone for such great advice and suggestions. I'm definitely intrigued by Joel Robuchon proper and Le Cirque for dinner. é is doing a special holiday menu, which is already going to be very spendy, so we'll probably save JR for a future visit.

                        10 Replies
                        1. re: Ponder99

                          You will definitely not be disappointed if you substitute LeC for JR, and for much less $.

                          1. re: josephnl

                            Okay, you've convinced me to make a reservation for LeC on Christmas Day to keep my options open. I still have a reservation for L'Atelier at the same time. I'm keeping an eye on the recent LeC vs L'Atelier thread, but any more thoughts one way or the other would be appreciated.

                            1. re: Ponder99

                              I don't know…Christmas Day is always a scary day to eat out. So many restaurants are not at their best on holidays. Wherever you go, I'd check that they're doing their normal menu. I've had horrible luck with holiday prix fixe menus at some of the finest restaurants. Good luck! Please don't hold me responsible if Christmas dinner at LeC fails to please!

                          2. re: Ponder99

                            See the review in my blog of the Holiday e menu. It is very pricey, and very worth it. I went last year.

                            Robuchon does a standard menu on the holidays.

                            Le Cirque is doing a special holiday menu.

                            Went to Circo with friends last night but special requested the foie terrine from Le Cirque. If you like cold foie this is a STELLAR version.


                            1. re: uhockey

                              thinking of going to Le Cirque in December ... does anyone know how much additional would it be to add the Foie Terrine to the Degustation menu?
                              Or should I / can I substitute it for the Seared Foie Gras, white chocolate/Raisin Brioche??

                              Wish I could try both? but I fear it would be too much??

                              1. re: yesilovestotravel

                                No such thing as too much foie gras:-). You should contact the restaurant and ask about the substitution/addition. I find Le Cirque to be very accommodating.

                                1. re: ellenost

                                  Agree re Le Cirque being very accommodating. I can't imagine them saying no to anything. Is Ivo Angelov still the manager?? He's the nicest man, and extremely helpful.

                                  1. re: josephnl

                                    According to the Bellagio website, Ivo is still the general manager at Le Cirque. I agree with you that he is terrific!

                                    1. re: ellenost

                                      Great. Will be returning to LeC in January, and will look forward to seeing Ivo. He's great!

                                2. re: yesilovestotravel

                                  $32 is the plate cost for the Foie Terrine. I ordered it at Circo next door.


                            2. I feel Joel Robuchon is the best Vegas has to offer. Right now is perfect because it is truffle season. Have been to JR about 4-5 times and L'Atelier 3 times. I go to L'Atelier when JR is closed in August. L'Atelier is good. Like uhockey said, the bread cart (served with some amazing butter), chocolate cart, and cheese cart cannot be missed. You can keep costs down by getting the 2 course and supplementing. The carts are the best part of the meal anyways. The wine list is stellar and even more astronomically priced. You can get the full JR wine list at L'Atelier if you ask. Take advantage of the complimentary limo if you book JR. Reserve it in advance.

                              Loved Pierre Gagnaire in Paris. Twist was a big letdown. Definitely JR over Twist.

                              Here are some teasers from my meal last year around this time:

                              -lobster ravioli with truffles
                              -white truffles with veal dumplings
                              -perigord truffles with wild boar
                              -souffle (must have, get it as a supplement if you do the 2 course)
                              -famous chocolate cart

                              16 Replies
                              1. re: Porthos

                                From this June or July ordering a la carte:

                                -morels and cheese panna cota on pea puree
                                -La Pintade Fermière with morels and asparagus
                                -dessert "le sucre" (pop rocks in the middle)
                                -famous dessert cart again
                                -baba au rum from the dessert cart

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  Thanks uhockey! That's around what I thought! not sure if i can consume the whole degustation menu plus this additional course... might have to have them substitute it...

                                  Porthos... is 2 courses enough? I love multi courses... if I do the 2 courses (app+main=$120) or (main+dessert=$160)
                                  how much additional would the cheese cart & a dessert or app be? if I supplement...

                                  I'm looking at no more than $400 for 2 (my 13 yr old son) and me.
                                  not including drinks... but including tax & tip.

                                  We are staying at The Signature @ MGM so sadly no Limo :(
                                  Would love to try the Le Sucre & La Caille (Foie Gras stuffed free range quail with the famous puree de pommes) although I don't see the latter on the website menu... only on L'Atelier menu...

                                  1. re: yesilovestotravel

                                    The quail is good. I almost always get that dish as one of my L'Atelier dishes. Another good dish at L'Atelier is the soft egg (l'oeuf) if it is available.

                                    I'm a big eater and the 4 course is more than enough. Especially since there are like 15+ types of bread and they're all so good it's hard not to try at least one of each. Something like the bacon gruyere baguette or the saffron bread...hard to just eat one. I think dessert is $25 per supplement. Not sure how much appetizer is. By leaving room for supplements I was referring to whatever truffle laced dish they try to tempt you with that night.

                                    Drinks can really increase the tab you but there are some gems on aged wines if you look carefully enough.


                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      I've not been because from what I hear, it's beyond my budget. I've been told that a really nice 3 course meal (appetizer perhaps foie, main, dessert, coffee) plus a cocktail and a modest bottle of wine will easily run between $300-400pp (including tax & tip). Is this correct?

                                      I can eat wonderfully at Le Cirque for quite a bit less (but I'm sure JR, is a notch above).

                                      1. re: josephnl

                                        I can easily keep it around $200pp using the strategy I outlined above. The wine is what will get you if you only go for the big names.

                                        Back when they first opened, they offered an entire tin of osetra caviar over crab as an amuse. That was when it was totally worth it. These days, aside from a few gems on the wine list and aside from the truffle season dishes, it's hard to recommend it due to the cost.

                                        Then again, I feel that way about Vegas in general.

                                        1. re: Porthos

                                          Porthos... you say... it's hard to recommend it... you mean JR? Am I better off going to Le Cirque??

                                          If I go to JR... do they serve the Quail Foie Gras Dish from L'Atelier??

                                          Also, Le Cirque... no Cheese Cart?? :(

                                          1. re: yesilovestotravel

                                            It's hard to recommend due to the price.

                                            I think it's the best high end in Vegas.

                                            I'm sure they can do it if you ask, but it's a small portion and you may not be getting your "money's worth".

                                            I highly recommend JR. Do the 160 2 course and supplement with dessert and cheese cart and sample 10 pieces of bread at least and at least 10 pieces of chocolate. You'll have a great experience.

                                            Ask for a table indoors, and don't let them put you in the outside "atrium".

                                            1. re: Porthos

                                              Thanks Porthos!

                                              So, lets say I do the $160 2 course + an additional ~$60 for dessert & cheese cart... x 2 people... I'm looking at around: $560 with tax/tip

                                              Might have to stick to Le Cirque... :(

                                              1. re: Porthos

                                                I'm confused! You say do the $160 2 course menu and supplement with dessert and cheese. With a cocktail, a modest bottle of wine (for 2), tax and tip, the total is nowhere near $200…it has to be at least $300-350pp…no?

                                                1. re: josephnl

                                                  yeah, Joseph, I figure 30 for the cheese cart, another 30 for the dessert...
                                                  that's $220 (without drinks)
                                                  tip 18% =$40
                                                  Tax is how much 8% in vegas? so add another $18
                                                  total for 1 person is about $278

                                                  So for 2 people is about $560 without any drinks... I think its too rich for my blood... sadly, bc i love what i saw on their menu...

                                                  I'm more sad that Le Cirque has no Cheese Cart :(

                                                  1. re: josephnl

                                                    I am referring to this part of yesILT's post

                                                    >>I'm looking at no more than $400 for 2 (my 13 yr old son) and me not including drinks... but including tax & tip<<

                                                    160 + 25 supplement with 20% tip and 8% tax puts us at $237-$238 or "around $200". Minus the supplement and you're well under.

                                                    In this case, if you like tasting menus, go all out at L'Atelier for the $160 Menu Decouverte. You get the quail. You can also add a cheese course. Win win win.

                                                    1. re: Porthos

                                                      Porthos, I want to make the #'s work sooo bad! LOL

                                                      must have the cheese cart, and the Le Sucre Dessert... that would be 2 supplements, right?

                                                      Am I right at estimating $60 for adding both the cheese cart & Dessert?

                                                      Oh! How about doing different tasting menus? Like a 2 course $120 & a 6 Course $240?

                                                      1. re: yesilovestotravel

                                                        I don't know how hard of a limit your numbers are. Only you can make that call :-)

                                                        They do let you mix and match different course tastings.

                                                        It is not a great deal by any means but it is a great experience.

                                                        In terms of a better "deal" the discovery menu at L'Atelier will be a great experience also. Request a seat at the bar. It's fun to watch them work.

                                                        1. re: Porthos

                                                          Thanks Porthos!
                                                          I now have a decision to make, but I am much better informed! so thanks again!

                                                          1. re: Porthos

                                                            If you ever need a JR dining pal let me know, living here now I need minimal notice and even less justification. :-)


                                                        2. re: Porthos

                                                          Thanks, Porthos…but if I were to decide to go to JR, I'd want to do it right, and to my way of calculating with appetizer (perhaps foie), main, dessert and/or cheese, drinks, wine and coffee, including tax and tip, I can't imagine it being much under $400pp. For me, and I'm just speaking for myself, I don't think any meal is worth that much…so, unless I'm miscalculating, I guess that JR is not in the cards for me. I'm definitely pushing it when I spend $200-250pp at LeCirque. I love food and eating fine meals, but I just don't feel right spending that much on a meal.