é by José Andrés

>>  Monday, March 18, 2013

Jaleo
This is the last post in the Winter in Las Vegas series. Other posts in this series include Le Cirque and Julian Serrano.

Deep inside Jaleo, José Andrés's well-known and popular Spanish tapas restaurant, lies another almost hidden, restaurant-within-a-restaurant called simply "é." é is one of José Andrés's gastronomical "playgrounds" where he delights diners with various tastes, smells, and sights through the use of molecular gastronomy, among many other techniques.

é joins the ranks of José Andrés's other two "flagship" restaurants that serve related exploratory-type tasting meals: minibar in DC and Saam in Los Angeles. Unlike minibar, which draws from numerous different cuisines and pushes the envelope on using new, modern techniques, é is decidedly more Spanish, applying new cooking techniques to age-old Spanish ingredients and dishes.

With only eight seats and two seatings a night, reservations at this tiny little bar are infamously difficult to get. There's no online book system or phone number to call. Instead, all reservations are simply done via email.
Golden Ticket e by Jose Andres
If you're lucky enough to get a confirmed reservation, you actually get an email that begins with "Congratulations, you've made it!" To make it feel extra special, "golden tickets" for the "show" arrive in the mail a few days later.
Jaleo
They urge you to arrive early. After all, it's a tightly orchestrated "performance" that aims to bring you through a journey of 23 individual tastes in a little over two hours. There are two seatings a night - one at 5:30 and one at 8:30. There's no room for error. They must finish the first show by around 8:15PM.

Because we arrive early (as they requested), they bring us to the bar at Jaleo to relax for a few minutes while they finish setting up.

A little after 5:30, we are whisked away to the deep interior of the restaurant, where we find another glass door.
JoseAndresEntrance
Welcome to the show. Your journey is about to begin.
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The seating at é is quite intimate. Eights seats wrap around a semi-circular bar, where every single diner gets up-front and personal front row seats facing the kitchen. Rows of old-school card catalogs line a wall, and whimsical art and odd knick knacks decorate the walls and shelves.
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Sous chef Cody Jeffs kicks off the show with a dramatic flair, pouring liquid nitrogen into a flask full of orange blossom water. A pool of smoke arises, spilling all over the table.
JoseAndresDrink
This liquid nitrogen-chilled water is mixed with Mazanilla sherry to create our first "course", a Rebujito Cocktail which is absolutely refreshing and delicious.
Truffle Cotton Candy Chef Cody and another sous chef soon lay out eight molds in the shape of José Andrés's hands. TruffleCottonCandy Truffle Cotton Candy
They gently lay out whimsical balls of Truffle Cotton Candy, our second course, each topped with edible gold flakes. This is paired alongside Idiazabal "Macaron", an tense, cheesy cookie that pairs beautifully with the cottom candy.

It's as if José Andrés is personally serving us all cotton candy.

I sincerely love both. The truffle cotton candy is intoxicating with strong truffle flavor, and the salty, intensely cheesy "macarons" are a perfect match.
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Next, the chefs begin laying out perfectly formed hemispheres that look just like egg shells, have the consistency of chocolate, and taste like almonds.
Caviar
These cold shells, presumably made with the use of liquid nitrogen (?) are called Nitro Almond Cups, and are filled with various almond flavored elements (such as foam) as well as a generous portion of caviar. The champagne with which this course is paired nicely bring out the nuttiness of the almonds.
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The next course, called Apple "Brazo de Gitano", reminds me of a similar course I had at Samm in Los Angeles. Airy, almost like styrofoam, this savory bite beautifully pairs together the flavors of apple and a strong blue cheese.
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Next we enjoy another bite that looks like it should be sweet, but is actually savory. Barquillo is a traditional Spanish rolled wafer cookie.
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Here, the barquillos contain a rich and savory truffle and anchovy filling that has the consistency of whipped cream. The flavors are absolutely fantastic, and our one little bite leaves me wishing for more._DSC0414
The playful name "Almejas al Natural" literally means "natural clams", though in fact it's anything but.  These unassuming "clams" are actually filled with spherified balls of reconstituted clam juice. The resulting bite is gorgeously flavorful with intense clam flavors, and pairs well with the sherry with which it is paired.
Bahn mi
The next course, Bocata de Bacalao, again reminds me of Chef Andres's "Bahn Mi" that I had at Samm. Although the fried bread is similar from both places, this é version is more Spanish, made from salt cod, aioli, and caramelize onions. It's deeply savory and quite rich.
Chicken skin & oyster
Crispy Chicken Skin in Escabeche consists of a paper thin, flattened crispy chicken skin topped with chicken oysters and a foam inspired by "Escabeche" flavors, an acidic marinade traditionally used in Mediterranean cuisine. I find this dish to be tasty, though I am not particularly blown away by the flavors like I was for previous courses.
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As a palate cleanser of sorts, we take a break from savory bites to enjoy a huge spherified ball of Cava Sangria. This is fun, and I am surprised at how much it really taste like cava. Knowing from experience, sometimes it's not that trivial to make your spherified liquid taste the same as it is in its liquid form, especially when it comes to complex wines._DSC0424
I've lost count at this point, but I can tell the dishes are getting more substantial and less like little "bites."
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Our next course is Artichoke "Puree" with Vanilla. Three perfectly formed artichoke hearts sit at the center of this dish, served with a rich, artichoke flavored sauce and vanilla foam. It's wonderfully flavorful, though I don't find any groundbreaking new flavors.Lobster with jasmine foam
It's hard to take notes for this meal, as things happen so quickly you might miss something if you're head is buried in your notebook or phone. For example, during the preparation of the next course, Lobster with Citrus & Jasmine, the chefs draw a little "é" into the sauce of each plate (see middle picture above).

It is only there for a fleeting second, and soon a succulent piece of lobster tail is laid over the pretty letter that was just carefully drawn moments before.
Lobster with jasmine foam
This juicy piece of lobster tail is served with jasmine foam and tiny bits of  fruit. The dish is paired with either a Spanish beer or a sparkling white wine (depending on whether guests opt for the normal pairing or grand pairing).
chick pea soup
The next dish is one of my favorites of the entire meal. Chickpea Stew with Iberico Ham may sound simple, but the actual preparation that goes into this soup is astounding. Jamon iberico fat is first clarified and then emulsified together with three different stocks made with different types of bones. The "chickpeas" that you see in the photo are actually spherified balls with an intense, creamy essence that is much more than just chick pea. Finally, little bits of actual jamon iberico "bacon" dot the plate, rounding out the wonderful tastes and textures of this complex soup.

We were scraping the bottom of the bowl, trying to get every last drop of this flavorful elixir into our mouths.
turbot with bone marrow tater tots
Bryan loves bone marrow, and therefore loves the next course, Turbot with Bone Marrow. The simply prepared turbot (probably prepared sous vide) is topped with its skin fried and served with deep fried capers. Bryan loves the breaded and deep fried bone marrow "tater tots" served on the side. I personally find it to be way to rich and fatty, but Bryan loves it.
salt encrusted fois gras
Chef Cody then brings out an entire lobe of foie gras covered in salt and herbs, appropriately named Whole Lobe of Foie Gras Baked in Salt.
salt encrusted foie gras
It is served with tiny cubes of confit grapefruit, a paint-stroke of chocolate, and a light, clementine soup. The balance of the slightly salty foie gras and the sweetness from the other components works quite well.
jamon iberico shoulder secreto
Chef Cody explains to us the meaning behind the next dish, Secreto of Iberico Pork with Squid. The "secreto" is a particular "secret" part of the pig that butchers used to love keeping for themselves because it was so tasty.
jamon iberico shoulder secreto This lovely piece of jamon iberico shoulder secreto is served with a squid jus sauce, made from squid a la plancha (on the grill).

Finally, it's time for dessert. We are quite stuffed at this point, and hardly realize there is still so much more to come . . . .cheese and chocolate caramel
Orange Pith Puree La Serena is almost like a transitional cheese course, savory and sweet at the same time. La Serena is a 60-day aged Spanish raw sheep's milk cheese, strong, creamy and salty. It is topped with a fun, flat foamy sheet and whimsical flowers.
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Flan is a traditional Spanish custard. Here, we enjoy tiny little cups of flan alongside crushed fruity ice.
rum coffee
The dramatic show continues as Chef Cody begins to cook  "pirate-spiced" rum (lemon zest, vanilla, and cinnamon) and coffee together with this electrifying blue flame.

It's almost hypnotizing to watch the blue flame as Chef Cody repeatedly raises and lowers his spoon.
olive oil, chocolate, caramel
The resultant coffee rum drink is served in a tiny espresso glass alongside Pan Con Chocolate, literally "bread with chocolate". Here, bread baked in simple syrup is covered with a chocolate powder which tastes like shaved frozen chocolate mousse served with saffron olive oil. The flavor combination works surprisingly well.
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"Arroz Con Leche", a traditional Spanish tapioca pudding, comes inside a tiny candied cone as a single, delicious bite.
almond 25 second cake
And the desserts keep coming!

Chef Cody begins to make "25 second Bizcocho", an almond cone-shaped cake that is "baked" in the microwave for 25 seconds.
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The cake is moist, not too sweet, and filled with a light cream. This is served with "Air" Chocolate, a fantastic bite of salt-topped chocolate with air holes all throughout the inside. It sort of reminds me of the British chocolate called "Aero."
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And finally, a delightfully fun final dessert that is visually huge, but takes up virtually no stomach space. The Cocoa Paper with Dried Strawberry is extremely delicate. I believe it's made mainly from sugar, but this paper-thin sculpture crumbles and quickly disintegrates in your mouth as you eat it.

I love it, and finish my entire piece.
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We finish this off with José Andrés's signature drink - his awesome gin and tonic. I first had this drink at Jaleo in Washington DC. It's there that I realized that I love gin & tonic. Andrés's version uses Hendrick's gin, Fever Tree tonic, kaffir lime, lemon, and juniper.

It's a perfect, refreshing way to end the evening.
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As you would expect at the end of any show, the "characters" come out for a bow as we applaud their hard work.
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It is only about 8:05PM, plenty of time before the next show. Most guests leave, but we hang around a bit, savoring the space, chatting with the staff.
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I've got a huge smile on my face, because I've had so much fun the entire evening.

The food was absolutely phenomenal. I loved José Andrés's creative intepretations of traditional Spanish classics. Even though he does some similar dishes at Samm in Los Angeles, I much prefer this meal over that one, possibly because I didn't like the French-inspired dishes as much at Samm.

This could very well become one of my favorite meals I've ever had in Las Vegas.

Seriously, it's up there with Joel Robuchon and L'Atelier.

I like it when I'm surprised by new and innovative flavor combinations, and é does not disappoint. Even though José Andrés says it's more Spanish and more conservative, I still find it to be refreshingly different from the traditional French-inspired tasting menus that you typically find. Plus, his use and command of molecular gastronomy still sets his food apart from most high-end meals around.

Of course, it's also possible I just like the bold flavors of Spanish cuisine more.
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Whatever the reason, I had a wonderfully memorable time at é and I would highly recommend trying to get a reservation if you can. It's become one of my favorite meals in Vegas, and I can't wait to try it again when I return. I know they change the menu quarterly, so you can go back and (hopefully) try a  range of a totally new set of surprising flavors.

The Details
Reservations are only done by emailing reserve@ebyjoseandres.com up to three months before your date of dining. If they indicate availability, you must fill out and sign a form (more like a contract, really) where you give them your credit card number and agree to a few terms. Any cancellation made less than 14 days before dining date results in a 50% cancellation fee. A no-show results in a 100% cancellation fee.

The tasting menu is $195 and does not include alcohol or gratuity. There are two pairings: the standard pairing costs $130 and the premium pairing costs $300 (see below for both full lists). You can also order off of the extensive wine list (given to you in the form of a tablet!), which is shared with Jaleo.

Definitely put your name on the waiting list, as cancellations do happen. I called less than two weeks before my dinner and was  able to secure seats for four due to a cancellation that happened a few days later.
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Cheers!

Want to read more Vegas posts? Check out the Las Vegas Eating Guide which includes links to all Las Vegas area restaurant posts I've written.

WINE PAIRINGS
Standard Pairing
2008 Agusti Torello Mata Reserva Cava 
La Gitana “En Rama” Jerez; Hidalgo, Manzanilla (Sherry)
Alvear “Carlos VII” Amontillado; Montilla-Morales (Sherry)
Estrella Damm Inedit (Beer)
2002 R. Lopez De Heredia “Vina Gravonia”; Rioja (Crianza Blanco)
East India Solera Jerez NV; E. Lustau (Sherry)
2000 Alejandro Fernandez “Dehesa La Granja”; Zamora (Tempranillo)
2008 Jorge Ordonez & Co. “Victoria”; Malaga (Moscatel)
2004 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Trockenbeerenauslese; (Riesling)
Ron Cremant (Warm rum and coffee cocktail)
Jose’s Gin & Tonic

Premium Pairing
Krug Grand Cuvee Brut NV; Reims
 Pasada Pastrana Jerez; Hidalgo, Manzanilla (Sherry)
Bodegas Tradicion V.O.R.S. Jerez; Oloroso (Sherry)
2009 Txomin Etxaniz Txakoli; Getariao Txakolina
2000 R. Lopez De Heredia “Vina Tondonia” Gran Reserva; Rioja (Rosé)
East India Solera Jerez NV; E. Lustau (Sherry) 
2003 Vega-Sicilia Valbuena 5° Año; Ribera del Duero
2004 Gunderloch Nackenheim Rothenberg Trockenbeerenauslese; (Riesling)
Ron Cremant (Warm rum and coffee cocktail)
Jose’s Gin & Tonic

e by Jose Andres
The Cosmopolitan (inside Jaleo)
3708 Las Vegas Blvd
S Las Vegas, NV 89109
é by Jose Andres on Urbanspoon

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