Four Winning Dishes in Las Vegas

Foie Gras Brûlée, Sage Las Vegas

Sin City. The innovator of $3.99 steak ‘n eggs and 99¢ shrimp cocktail available 24-hours a day.  Home of the ubiquitous all-you-can-eat buffet bursting with piles of crab legs, dim sum and spinning wheels of Italian gelato.  Despite the influx of superstar chefs like Puck, Keller, Savoy, Vongerichten, Robuchon, and Andrés — with Michelin stars in tow — some discerning diners feel like my friend who recently quipped that Sin City is where “good restaurants go to die.”

My expectations were pretty low: a lot of glitzy restaurants with hefty price tags and little substance. However, I am excited to report that I was proven wrong (it happens on occasion).  I hit the culinary jackpot with four of the best dishes I have eaten in as many years, with one of them ousting a longstanding incumbent on my “death row meal” menu.

So, peel off a few twenties from your bankroll and try these four “don’t miss” dishes for some of the best action on the Strip.

Estiatorio Milos  (born on 55th Street in NYC)  instantly transports you from the dizzying sensory overload of The Cosmopolitan to a seaside oasis in the Mediterranean.  Chef Costas Spiliadis has spent 30 years cultivating relationships with fisherman from Morocco to Tunisia and everywhere in between.  The result? Pristine seafood of the highest quality expertly dressed with signature Greek ingredients like hand-harvested sea salt, extra virgin olive oil, chickpeas from Santorini, and wild sea fennel.  Take a peak at the fresh fish, crustaceans and other seafood exquisitely displayed on ice in the in-house “fish market.”

Don’t miss: the Housemade Tzatziki, a heavenly blend of creamy Greek yogurt, fresh cucumber and garlic topped with a drizzle of olive oil (you can eat it alone with a spoon, it’s that good!), and the masterfully prepared Grilled Octopus tossed with briny capers, fresh lemon juice, shaved red onion, olive oil and fine herbs.  On my return visit I will definitely try the signature paper-thin, crispy zucchini and eggplant with sheep’s cheese, which I enviously eyed on fellow diners’ tables.

Housemade Tatziki, Estiatorio Milos Las VegasGrilled Octopus, Estiatorio Milos Las Vegas

Just as Estiatorio Milos is a retreat from the raucous Cosmopolitan, the Aria is a sanctuary among other nearby Las Vegas mega resorts.  Even with 4,500+ rooms, the Aria delivers first class service and somehow captures a sense of elegance and refinement, tipping its hat to the Rat Pack-era of yesteryear that sadly seems to have been all but eradicated from the Strip. The hotel boasts an impressive stable of restaurants, including Sage, the magnum opus of James Beard Award-winning Chef Shawn McClain (also the chef/owner of another of my all-time favorites, the Green Zebra in Chicago).  Sage allows patrons to create their own 2 to 4-course prix fixe experience from a tailored selection of seasonal dishes. The whole meal, punctuated with small surprises along the way, was nearly flawless on every level, from presentation to creativity to flavor.

Don’t miss: the Foie Gras Brûlée (pictured above) — the current star of my “death row meal” and one of the best things I have ever eaten — a decadent, velvety, salty/sweet custard topped with a thin layer of crunchy caramel, fresh strawberry compote, and toasted cocoa nibs served with cloudlike buttery brioche, and the Maine Day Boat Scallops Maine Day Boat Scallops, Sage Las Vegaswith crispy braised oxtail, meaty trumpet mushrooms, and tender broccoli presented with a salted caramel reduction.  On my return visit I will be sure to try an after-dinner treat from the roving absinthe bar.

Taste of Adventure