Vegas Hit or Miss: Round 3

Dont Roll the Dice

Fear not, ye dehydrated and hungover Vegas highroller – let me shine a ray of hope on your quest for restaurants with heart. In fact, even within this Mecca of Risk, you need not gamble on dinner if you follow Zolli’s recommendations:

La Cave is a MUST-HIT if you are near the Wynn.  This relatively new wine bar and small-plate eatery is adjacent to the totally miss-able Terrace Point Cafe.  La Cave has a relaxed vibe and friendly service despite the thoughtful decor and high-rent location overlooking theWynn pool. There is a nice assortment of wine flights and wines by the glass, with a moderate to expensive range of prices.

The Jumbo Lump Crab Lettuce Cups ($13) made the Lobster Roll at the Terrace Point Cafe and the Crab Legs at the Wynn Buffet seem like mean-spirited jokes- the crab cups contained the seafood cited in their description, they were perfectly cooked, and the price was absolutely appropriate given the portion.  The Raclette ($10) might have been a little high on the cornichon:potato ratio, but was otherwise everything you want melted cheese to be.  The Fiery Artichoke and Roasted Pepper Flatbread ($12) was crisp on the bottom, gooey on the top, and ample enough for a small lunch on its own. Shaved Asparagus with Hard-Boiled Eggs and Pancetta was just-right, with tender-crisp asparagus shards and supple little crumbles of egg. The Angus Mini Burgers ($12) and the Beef Filet with Crostini and Blue Cheese ($16) were both exercises in bovine perfection, but the Marinated Shrimp with Tomato and Chili Oil ($14) were a little low on flavour in comparison. All in all, and in comparison to the other Wynn eateries, La Cave HITS it out of the park for both taste and value.

More on the ‘special event’ side of the cost spectrum, HIT Charlie Palmer’s at the Four Seasons.  You will pay $200-300 or more for a date with Charlie, but you won’t leave feeling cheated. The service is absolutely perfect: while they do fancy things like replace your napkin while you get up to pee and use three waiters to present your dishes all at once, they still come off as really nice people who are making an honest living feeding their families back in Mexico.  When we said we liked the wine, the waiter removed the label and pasted it on a special Charlie Palmer card for us.  And their manager has a disability, which I think is a really cool move for a restaurant which could get away with far more pretense.

We have eaten there twice, and every single mouthful has been absolutely impeccable.  Chef Steve’s Caesar Salad ($16) is a great spin on a classic, with romaine hearts dressed and wrapped in prosciutto, garnished with whole anchovies.  Oysters ($18) were tucked into a monolithic bed of ice (it made me feel bad for only getting a half-dozen), adorned with coils of sea vegetables, and served with mignonette and house-made caraway crackers.  I barely restrained myself from licking the plate of the Ahi Tuna with Soba Noodles, but I shouldn’t have bothered with self-control – in this restaurant, the customer is clearly queen.

It probably goes without saying, but let me say it anyhow: when it comes to Charlie’s 21 day wet aged steaks ($43-92), the cows have made a worthy sacrifice. Vegetable sides are at a reasonable price point ($7-10) considering the care with which they are treated, including the asparagus in a buttery citrus sauce. My lobster ($29 for half, $55 for whole) had a density and sweetness which can come only from irreproachable sourcing and the attentive application of heat. And if you order only one thing off the menu, get the Parmesan Potato Gratin, which for $10 is a absolute blast of delicious.

Charlie Palmer’s at the Four Seasons has something you rarely find anywhere in Vegas:  a proper, loving soul.  Save your pennies and HIT this restaurant for some culinary redemption in Sin City.

La Cave (Wynn) on Urbanspoon

Charlie Palmer (Four Seasons) on Urbanspoon

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