We were about as excited about dining at Switch again as we were about our last visit to the proctologist (insert joke here).

It’s no secret, we’ve been disappointed by the food, and consider the whole, $40 mil changing-walls-thing to be the greatest waste of money and movement since Cirque du Soleil began its full-employment program for Canadian acrobats.

But gosh darnnit if new top toque Rene Lenger didn’t deliver a top shelf experience, using superior ingredients (with one exception — see below), that left us mumbling to ourselves (and eating crow) for hours afterwards.

Of course, it didn’t hurt a bit that 2008 Sommelier of the Year Des Echavarrie was pouring some superb stuff, and that our dining companions were picking up the tab, but even if we’d been the Schmos from Dover, there’s no denying that this place buys good groceries, and knows what to do with them.

Take the veal, for instance. Our posting of the tasty snap of this chop on Facebook engendered the typical “veal is bovine infanticide” diatribe we’ve heard a thousand times. We are well aware of the fact that, to eat this delectable meat, you have to square your conscience with the fact that baby veal calves are slaughtered around the six-month mark. But in ELV’s world, eating a veal chop is no more offensive than buying a pair of leather shoes — of which we’re particularly fond of our Ferragamos.

And there’s no denying that the chop served here is of the highest, milk-fed quality. It’s meat is practically snow white, the flavor dense-yet-mild, and the texture something so delicate so as to be almost non-meat like. Veal in its purest and best form should have all of these characteristics, yet still be able to carry other flavors without overwhelming them the way more aged beef (or pork) might.

But let us not dwell just on the superiority of Lenger’s chops. For the lad is equally skilled at churning out a risotto (albeit with truffle oil — that overwhelmed the fresh white ones shaved on top), as he is with a piece of crispy, well-chosen arctic char, or a confit of duck. Aside from an egregiously over-salted scallop, and the aforementioned truffle oil faux pas, our meal was flawless.

Switch is not the type of place where the chef does pirouettes on the plate, but the food fits Des’s wines to a tee, lets the fermented juice be the star, and rarely interrupts the mood of the table except for someone to say how well-prepared a dish is.

Finally, we would be remiss in our reporting if we didn’t dole out praise for whomever is holding down the fort at the Wynn/Encore bakeshop. When Boris Villat left a few months ago, we were crestfallen, and wary of anyone being able to step into his sizable shoes of turning out our town’s best restaurant bread basket (for all of the venues here). From what we’ve tasted at Switch, ALEX and Stratta recently, all is well with the rolls, biscuits and baguettes that are brought to bear. They are still so scrumptious, we routinely ignore our mother’s admonition not to fill up on bread as soon as we sit down.

And as long as we’re talking about things that are delicious (if a bit bad for us), a word or two about Rebecca Bills’ spot-on desserts. Her lava cake, lemon cake and bananas Foster may not plow any new ground, but they are lip-smacking renditions of these classics, and just what the doctor ordered after a perfect veal chop and a 1982 Montelpulciano d’Abruzzo.

Our bill (for four) came to $610.77. ELV contributed $100 towards a very hefty tip.


At the Encore Hotel and Casino

3121 Las Vegas Blvd.

Las Vegas, NV 89109



6 thoughts on “SWITCH Redux

  1. So Rene Lenger is cleaning up that hot mess at Switch? I hope so. I also hope Steve Wynn’s actually giving him enough free reign to really give that place the shake-up it needs. I won’t comment on all your food choices, but I’ll just say your review of the risotto sounds encouraging.

    I’m willing to give this place another try as it seems it’s getting a fresh start.

  2. I noticed they tacked “steakhouse” onto the end of the name of the place. At least, I don’t recall it being there when Encore opened.

  3. They’re being a little more honest now, jsmeeker. Switch has always been a steakhouse, but for some reason Steve Wynn tried to market it as something else and expect us not to notice.

  4. the place is just a poor concept, they need to shut down and re-tool the spot, but they are spending all the money on the new pool club. so i guess you will have to just do with lenger’s mediochre food in a weird space

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