Spago - Strangely never mentioned here
It enjoys an underwhelming reputation perhaps because it is a chain or 20 years old. Mr. Puck's success may an additional detraction. Who knows but IMO it is one of the best, most consistent meals in town.
The food is excellent. How refreshing to see a spot where the menu truly changes and evolves. I know of only a handful of restaurants that take great dishes off the menu to make room for something new and untested. No doubt Chef Klein deserves much of the credit. Cocktail program A+. The wine list is another bright spot. Unlike so many of its strip brethren, deals abound and markups are very reasonable. A few notes: We usually dine at the bar (maybe 70%) but the service is outstanding anywhere and always. Ask, if not told, about daily specials - a testing ground and seasonal outlet for the chefs. Also, it's not cheap, apps are 15-25, pastas in that same range, with entrees slightly higher.
For comparison, we give the edge to Spago over Country Club for best long lunch, view notwithstanding. I'm not an employee in full disclosure, just thought it deserved a mention.
There is surely a tendency here to emphasize the new, but it is surprising how seldom Spago is discussed on CH. I haven't been to Spago in a long time, more than ten years.
Offhand, I have to believe that the key to Spago's success is the amazing longevity of Chef Klein. I know nothing about the financial arrangements, but it would seem that Klein treats Spago as HIS restaurant, in the best possible way. I'm sure that he has had opportunities to go elsewhere, and I'll bet that Puck values him immensely.
Just dined at the bar of Spago for lunch and at the Country Club at Wynn. Liked them both.
Spago at the bar is way superior to itscavernous back room. Intimate and friendly. Bartenders are excellent waiters as well. Eg Kitchen split the two items we ordered in the kitchen, -- very customer friendly. Only beef? Very cool temperature of the space as it's open to the mall. Drafty. Had to keep our sweaters on!
Country club was quiet but delicious. Waiter was solicitous and excellent. When the yuca side dish arrived late and too chewy, he removed it from our bill without any comment from us. Comfortable and intimate space in a large hotel. Worth it.
I had dinner there earlier this week, in the main dining room, but the cafe seems to be the better choice. As you noted, the cocktail we ordered was good, and the glass of wine fairly priced.
Unfortunately, the crab risotto had to be returned. Management was very concerned about it, with two of their French managers asking me about it. I had it replaced with the mushroom soup. And then this was too salty, but I am not brave enough to return two dishes to the kitchen. The garnish on the soup was the best part: small pieces of chanterelle mushroom and roasted onion. Pumpkin agnolotti was decent.
Moving on to main dishes, we split the duck breast, which looked to be sous vide to medium+. This was pretty good.
Dessert, the mango verrine, was a-ok. The chocolate layers in it was the best part. Mignardises of passionfruit marshmallow was delicious.
Service is a curious mix of formal and informal styles, which I dislike very much. Decide what kind of restaurant you want to be and stick to either formal or informal service.
Overall, it was ok, but after this and the last not very good dinner at Spago Beverly Hills, I don't think I will be back. Sad, really, as I've had a few eye-poppingly good dishes at Spago BH. Anywhere else better where two people can eat reasonably well for <=$100 (food only?)