The first time I went to Rose.Rabbit.Lie it was late; I was drunk and liked the space, but hated the music. (But all the other drunks seemed to be having a whale of a time.) The second time, I was sober, liked the food, and still hated the music. The third time, I got as far away from the music as possible and learned to love it. So you might say the best way to appreciate your meal here is sober and in silence, and the best way to enjoy RRL is high as a Georgia pine.
The whole operation has more moving parts than a Zumanity masturbation fantasy. There’s a hostess desk. Then a juggler, then an anteroom, then another hostess desk, and finally, secret doorways to your left and right — all of this before you even get to the restaurant.
Once you get inside (led by a by a very comely guide, and believe me, you need one), you’ll see chanteuses on pianos, tap dancers on bar tops, and acrobats shooting arrows with their feet. Whether you find any of this even mildly entertaining depends on your age. If you’re over fifty, think twice about going; if you’re any age over twenty-one, contemplate in advance how you feel about sharing your meal with the incessant din of entertainers trying really, really hard to entertain you.
It all feels like a lot of forced fun to Eating Las Vegas, but luckily, the food more than makes up for the atmosphere. Executive Chefs Wesley Holton and Ben Spungin have devised a menu that is by turns classical, bizarre, playful and slightly profane, in other words: a lot like the hotel’s marketing campaign for itself.
Start with either the caviar tacos ($15 each) or the caviar flatbread ($19 for the table) and you won’t be disappointed. ELV is a caviar snob of the first magnitude (going back to the early 80s), and he finds all of this farm raised stuff they throw at you today to be but a shadow of the oesetra, sevruga and beluga of his youth. But Holton knows how to take something insipid and make it sing — by letting these fish eggs play off the hamachi (in the tacos), or as an accent to eggs and bacon on the flatbread. (P.S. The flatbread is the better deal.)
From there, just hold on and dive in. Sharp flavors abound and Holton knows how to tweak your expectations, and dazzle your palate like a master pornographer. Whether it’s Caramelized Farm Carrots showing roasted veggies at their best or a collection of summer vegetables that would do Guy Savoy proud, almost everything coming out of this kitchen is a show-stopper. The Rock Shrimp and Corn Agnolotti explode with the two main flavors with every bite; ditto the crispy skin sea bass — as pure an expression of a properly-cooked fish fillet as we’ve ever had.
Everything on the menu seems to straddle the line between rib-sticking and highly refined. The Rabbit Fricassée with Vichy carrots, rose petals (get it?) and something called Sauce Zingara, could’ve come straight from a Gallic stewpot…by way of a bunch of French-maid, can-can strippers. Just as sexy are Holton’s Crispy Chicken and Duck Confit Pasta — the former like McNuggets from heaven; the latter so rich you’ll be tapping out after two bites (this is a good thing).
You can also order an entire Alaskan King Crab here ($1,200) or a Beef Wellington to serve 4-6 ($275) — each presented and served table-side just like the old days — but mere mortals (at least four of you) should stick with the chicken: in this case a Mary’s Free Range Chicken ($95) — roasted, poached and perfect — a main attraction that will have your phone cameras clicking and your eyes rolling back in your head.
The prices on some of the wines will do likewise (this is not a good thing), but there are bargains to be found, and the list is one of the more focused and impressive ones we’ve seen in Vegas — full of interesting bottles, not just name brands chosen by a liquor distributor. Both the cocktails and wines by the glass are superb.
Equally stunning are the panoply of desserts created by Chef Spungin, of which we partook of the Cherries Jubilee and the Chocolate Terrarium ($35). The cherries are flamed to nice effect table-side, but the old-fashioned presentation stops once they’re poured over satin-smooth rectangles of vanilla ice cream. It’s a grown up dessert, tasting of brandy, but one that will bring out the kid in you. Likewise, the two foot glass enclosure they parade to your table is a veritable garden of chocolate delights, of which the chocolate dirt(?) and ganache boulders(?) will have you laughing as you devour them. That’s entertainment!
This is one of, if not the most unique restaurants in all of Las Vegas. It matches the Cosmopolitan’s commercials to a tee and creates the kind of safe-yet-bizarre environment that is distinctly Las Vegas. If you’re idea of fun is watching lots of people doing this, have at it. But for yours truly, all the spectacle just takes attention away from the spectacular food. Reserve a table in The Library:
…for some of the most interesting cooking going on in Vegas right now…in an atmosphere more befitting the sophistication of the cuisine, not the sauciness of the surroundings.
Max Jacobson (Max hasn’t been well enough to review RRL, but if he was, here’s what he would say): I first met Wes Holton when he was toiling in the shadow of the great Daniel Boulud at DB’s Wynn restaurant. Now, he’s doing his own cuisine, not simply polishing the reputation of a celebrity chef, and the results are generally excellent, if a bit all-over-the-map. Certain snobs among us are too easily impressed by a table-side-this or a flamed-that, and I leave them to oohing and aahing over the guéridon of their choice. For my money, the things to get here are the Mediterranean Lamb Pizza and the Florida Frog Leg, which, as excellent as they are, can’t compare with what I experienced one night in Megrelia, when a tribe of Abkhazians, speaking a dialect only I and seventeen elders from Samegrelo understand, feasted on kuchmachi, lobio, and pkhali spiked with spoonfuls of satsivi.
Recommended dishes: Gougères; Poached Asparagus; Caramelized Farm Carrots; Warm Bloomsdale Spinach Salad; Collection of Summer Vegetables; Rock Shrimp and Corn Agnolotti; Loup de Mer; Rabbit Fricassee; Crispy Chicken; Duck Confit Pasta; Florida Frog Leg; Mediterranean Pizza; Roasted Foie Gras; Caviar Tacos; Caviar Flatbread; Mary’s Free Range Chicken; Foie Gras Macaroons; Cherries Jubilee; Bananas Foster; Chocolate Terrarium.