John Curtas is …

TWIST Reminds Us of All Cooking Can Be

The first bite is the banquet. – Chinese proverb

Enough negativity already!

We at ELV are tired of pondering the craven meretriciousness that brings life-threatening food microbes into our digestive systems.

Instead, we should be focusing on the kind of cooking that got us into this gig in the first place.

Food like Pierre Gagnaire’s new Spring menu — containing ingredients so delicious you will think you are eating them for the first time.

Like that little cube of lightly-crusted cube served as an amuse. Is there a springier way to spring into Spring? It tastes like a refreshing cocktail (Midori, yuzu and green tea) compressed into a single square and sets the stage for five courses of dining like it’s supposed to be: elegant, friendly, and fun.

Before we wax poetic about the rest of the meal, a word or two about tasting menus. There seems to be a backlash building against these tyrannical slogs through the entire chef’s repetoire. We are happy to be able to dine in Las Vegas — where even the hoity-est and toity-est of chefs (and their restaurants) are eager to please the customer, not insist upon absolute reverence to their religious zeal for purity, publicity and a fat paycheck.

Rather than engage in fawning hagiographies to famous cooks, we prefer to enjoy fabulous cuisine at the pace and portion sizes we like. Lucky for us (and Vegas diners) we have restaurants that let us do that and let their food do the talking….rather than their publicists.

Food like a sweet, sweet langoustine spiced with a lemon, ginger and tumeric gel. Or some of the best bread anywhere served with absolutely, positively the best butter on earth (Bordier). Or a shellfish mariniere served in a champagne-herb sauce of uncommon intensity. Or  a veal tenderloin so magnificently  accented (with green curry-scented eggplant and pear and a sorrel-veal chiffonade) it could make a meat eater out of Moby.

Then there is the gorgeous room, the updated (and far-more-interesting-than-it-used-to-be  wine list -  thanks Will Costello!), the blizzard of desserts, and a view that could melt the heart of a pit boss.

We were a bit shaken when Pascal Sanchez left this kitchen last year, but Ryuki Kawasaki has steadied the ship and given the menu a slightly lighter (but no less concentrated) touch.

It is impossible to get bored by Pierre Gagnaire’s food. We’ve eaten his creations in five different restaurants, on three continents, over seventeen years and find his restless, inventive cuisine as lip-smacking/throw-your-fork-down/slap-my-ass-and-call-me-Sally flavorful as it’s always been. It is no less intriguing now than it was when he was the enfant terrible of the culinary world back in the 90′s, but like the man himself (and many of us), it is now (slightly) more subdued and confident…and every bit as hyper-delicious.

Restaurant food doesn’t get any better than this.

Long may his French flag wave over Vegas.

ELV’s meal was comped and he left a $60 tip.

TWIST by PIERRE GAGNAIRE

In the Mandarin Oriental Hotel

3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South

Las Vegas, NV 89109

702.590.8888

http://www.mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas/dining/twist/

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11 Responses to TWIST Reminds Us of All Cooking Can Be

  • Have they replaced their wine director since opening? I remember the wine list being the most disappointing thing about dining at Twist.

  • Wine director replaced, new director is far superior.

    I often say that TWIST provides the most thought provoking dining experience in Vegas, and it is without a doubt the best menu based dining experience in our humble burg (in comparison to a tasting menu experience). Gagnaire is truly a master, and Chef de Cuisine Kawasaki masterfully recreates Gagnaire’s vision… we are so lucky to have this temple of fine dining available at our fingertips!

  • This is an article in service of showing me there is another layer of food-talk-about-er I really need to put the pedal to becoming. Both in writing, and in BAMF P in the F and left for D meals you get to have.

  • One of the most under rated restaurants in Las Vegas.

  • One hopes that the pompous General Manager, (who reminds me of the sniffy Maitre D’ in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), has untwisted his panties and is providing the gracious customer service his profession demands.

  • We are in rare agreement. When Gagnaire nails it, as he has here, he can be better than anyone in this country.

  • There is a new GM at MO, right? I’ve heard he is a lot more laid back and inviting… thank goodness!

  • As history has written before, the FoodGal gets it right.

  • Every time I go to Vegas (thrice thus far) I go to Twist to find out what Gagnaire is up to. His food at Twist has ranged from the sublime (John Dory- which Robuchon does very poorly at L’Atellier) to the ridiculous (raw langoustine with some insipid sake) but is always the most interesting food in town.

  • I disagree with “dr”, the general manager (Mathias) has always been accommodating, welcoming, and as warm as he can possibly be without being intrusive to the dining experience. I prefer his service style over some of the over-the-top expressions I have experienced elsewhere, it is understated and polite while respecting the customer’s experience – very similar to the entire Mandarin Oriental chain’s philosophy. Twist is the epitome of MO.

    Also, I think a small plug should go out for the bartender, she concocts cocktails from a minimalist selection of spirits like few others an accomplish, always with the warmest of smiles… pro tip: eat solo at the bar, you won’t regret it!

  • InTheCards I’m actually glad you disagree with me as I expect everyone should get the type of experience you describe. Unfortunately, my encounter with the General Manager of the restaurant in May two years ago was so distasteful it soured me on what should have been a memorable experience.

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