On October 15, 1998, shortly before 11 PM, The Bellagio opened its doors to the public. Shortly thereafter, Picasso, helmed by Julian Serrano, began serving what was and is some of the finest food and wine Las Vegas has ever seen. Unlike the typical absentee chef, Serrano committed to moving to Vegas — after years of being the top toque in all of San Francisco. It was quite a coup at the time for Steve Wynn to persuade him to do so, but the move paid off handsomely — for Serrano, Wynn, the Bellagio, Vegas in general, and lovers of pitch-perfect, Mediterranean/French cuisine.
In honor of Picasso’s Tenth Anniversary, here is a recent menu that demonstrates that Serrano’s food (with the able assistance of Chef de Cuisine Yoshi Honda), remains some of the most finely tuned in town. When paired with the wine stylings of Master Sommelier Robert Smith — who was robbed of a James Beard Award last year, if you ask us — there are few places where you can dine as well on the planet. Equally fascinating are a dozen paintings by some twentieth century abstract-cubist-expressionist painter whose name ELV always has trouble remembering….
Many thanks for a great evening to Kyle and Lynn of Ridgecrest, California — two budding gourmands who were in town for a self-guided tour of our Michelin-starred eateries (plus a few selections they gleaned from ELV).
Kyle had the winning bid during an on-line, KNPR auction last year, to have dinner with you-know-who. (On behalf of everyone at News 88.9 FM, Nevada Public Radio, Kyle, we salute you, your good taste, your support of KNPR, and your knowledge of omniscient restaurant critics!)
They both told us they planned their trip to Las Vegas, because Ridgecrest (formerly known as “Crumville”) isn’t exactly a hotbed of sophisticated restaurants. It is, however, a great place for testing Naval ordnance.
Here is the menu, with R. Smith’s wine pairings. Somehow, he found a Gruner Veltliner with cucumber top notes that harmonized perfectly with the cucumber salad accompanying the tuna tartare. Astonishing.
Amuse Bouche – Cold Potato-Leek Soup with Smoked Scottish Salmon and Russian Caviar
Charles Ellner, Brut Rosé, À Epernay, Champagne, France
Big Eye Tuna Tartare
with Cucumber Salad, Pine Nuts, Aged Balsamic
2006 Weingut Bründlmayer, Grüner Veltliner, Alte Reben,
Roasted Zucchini, Crispy Artichoke, Tomato Confit,
Piquillo Pepper Vinaigrette
2006 François Chidaine, Le Clos Baudoin, Vouvray, Loire Valley, France
Pan Seared U-10 Day Boat Scallops
Crème of Carrot and Ginger Soup, Confit of Carrots
2004 Domaine Zind Humbrecht, Gewurztraminer, Goldert, Guelerschwihr, Alsace, France
Wagyu Kobe Beef Filet Mignon
Ragout of Seasonal Root Vegetables, Sauce Perigueux
2005 Mas Doix, Salanques, Priorat, Spain
Plus five desserts by Pastry Chef Matt Fleisher — each a marvel of taste and painterly composition.
In the Bellagio Hotel and Casino
3600 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109