>> Wednesday, March 09, 2011
Unparalleled views of the Bellagio Fountains.
Massive Picasso originals on every wall.
Excellent Michelin Star quality French food prepared by a very well known Spanish Chef.
There aren't that many two or three star Michelin restaurants in Las Vegas. With the recent closing of the beloved Alex at the Wynn (according to Bryan : best seared fois gras ever), Las Vegas is down to one 3-star Michelin restaurant and two two-star Michelin restaurants.
We haven't tried the other 2-star restaurant (Guy Savoy). We did try Joel Robuchon (the only 3-star Michelin) a little over a year ago, and found the experience to be the most over-the-top crazy opulent dining experience we'd ever had. The craziest "Menu Degustation" is a whopping $385. Even our 4-course meal (at $148) was plenty decadent.
Picasso, on the other hand, is a totally different experience. The environment is no less impressive, with lovely view of the Bellagio Fountains and huge Picasso originals ($30 million worth!!) gracing the restaurant walls. However, the outlandish opulence is absent. Instead, there's an understated elegance that's peaceful, relaxed, and beautiful.
The dining room is quite large, yet the place still manages to maintain a romantic atmosphere. The paintings and the fountains alone are beautiful and breathtaking. Moreover, the service is warm and efficient, making the overall experience quite enjoyable.
The menu only consists of prix fixe menus: a 4-course for $113 and a 5-course for $123. Bryan's rational? If a 5-course only costs an extra $10, why not just go for that? Seriously, compared to Joel Robuchon, where a 4-course menu cost us $148 last year, this seemed reasonable in comparison.
quail egg, salmon with caviar, and a small "shooter" of velvety potato soup
We absolutely loved our amuse bouche of quail egg, cucumbers, smoked salmon, and caviar. Such a rich and flavorful explosion of flavors all in one bite! The velvety potato soup was also excellent. Perfect execution; sublime flavors.
Maine Lobster Salad
The Maine lobster salad was yet another well executed dish. The lobster was sweet with just a touch of creaminess, which was nicely offset by the slightly tart vinaigrette.
Pan Seared U-10 Day Scallops
Potato Mousseline and Jus de Veau
The pan seared scallops were also very good, and the flavors of the entire dish came together nicely, with a rich veal stock and ultra smooth mashed potatoes. Some at our table (including me), felt that the scallops were just a tad overcooked. Others at our table thought they were perfectly executed. I do tend to like my scallops almost borderline raw on the inside!
Sauteed Steak of "A" Foie Gras
Poached Pears, Huckleberries and Crushed Pistachios with Lemon Zest
Though I'm not the biggest fan of fois gras, I could appreciate that this was very good fois gras. The fois had a beautifully crusty edge and quite a strong liver flavor (which Bryan loved but I didn't care for as much). The fruity accompaniments (pears and huckleberries) provided a good complementary contrast to the rich and savory fois gras.
Sauteed Filet of Turbot
Green Asparagus and Sauce Hollandaise
You get your choice of main entree as part of the prix fixe menu. Almost predictably, the women at the table ordered the turbot while the men ordered the Wagyu beef (a special that day). I thought the turbot was well executed, although the flavors did not blow me away. It was a classic French dish that was fine - just not particularly inventive or exciting.
Bryan opted for the Wagyu beef with the in-season black truffle add-on. Not surprisingly, the beef was meltingly tender and absolutely delicious. The black truffles lent a lovely earthiness to the dish. Bryan enjoyed his dish very very much (ha ha, not a surprise, with THOSE ingredients!) Note: Bryan actually custom designed this dish. He saw the truffle special and asked whether it could be paired with Wagyu beef. They were happy to oblige - at an added cost, of course.
Wagyu Beef with Wild mushrooms (without the black truffle add-on)
Our friend got the version without the truffles, which he still thought was quite nice.
Quince themed dessert
We also had our choice of dessert. I opted for this fun little tasting of quince - everything from quince ice cream, to a shooter and a creme brulee! Fun and interesting.
chocolate "fondant" (molten chocolate cake), nut ice cream
For anyone who likes chocolate, you'll like the chocolate dessert. The stack of molten chocolate cakes were executed with precision, and the rest of the components were good as well.
Bryan opted for the cheese plate as his dessert (there is an add-on charge). It's always fun to try a variety of cheeses, and this was no exception. The entire table of four unapologetically dug into Bryan's cheese plate.
Picasso is a beautiful restaurant with excellent food. The dining environment is the most interesting part, with gorgeous views of the fountains and really really inspiring art. The food is excellent - high quality ingredients, expert execution, and flavors that work well. You won't find the most inventive creations or awe-inspiring gustatory experiences here. Expect solid, traditional French food in a very unique dining atmosphere, a living art gallery plus arguably the best fountain show on earth.
We happened to see Julian Serrano that night, and he was super friendly, offering to take multiple pictures with us with various different background. Julian Serrano used to be the executive chef at Masa in San Francisco, often touted as the best French restaurant in San Francisco. Steve Wynn spent months trying to convince Julian Serrano to move to Las Vegas to be the executive chef at Picasso.
One of my favorite parts was actually hanging out on their patio after dinner. The views of the fountain are fantastic, and you can chill for as long as you want. We stayed around for a couple fountain shows (they come every 15 minutes) and just hung around and chatted. There are several tables where you can relax. If you want the best view of all, stand at the edge of the balcony to get your own personal crowd-free view of the fountain show.
And that concludes the Las Vegas Series!
This post is part of a larger Las Vegas series. Posts in this series:
Beijing Noodle No. 9
Mesa Grill (2011)
Mesa Grill (2010)
Joel Robuchon (The Mansion)
Enoteca San Marco
3600 Las Vegas Blvd S
Las Vegas, NV 89109