Tasteful Ambience


So, in the same way that the resort towers are reflected in each others' mirrored surfaces and one building's roofline swoosh seems to answer that of the other, are we to assume that the restaurants at Encore are but an echo of those at sister property Wynn Las Vegas?

Not bloody likely.

Yes, some of the names are the same, and yes, there is a definite Wynn-like aura to be felt as one treads the floors at Encore. But on appearance alone, if the restaurants at Wynn are spectacular, those at Encore are something more. And considering the people who are in charge of Encore's kitchens, it's a safe bet that the food will be equal to the settings.

Among them are Botero, headed by executive chef Mark LoRusso, late of Tableau at Wynn Las Vegas (and in a partnership with Victor Drai). A monumental sculpture by Fernando Botero -- a Colombian famed for figures that could be called zaftig in the extreme -- anchors the center of the restaurant, and his paintings are on the walls. Even the restaurant itself seems to reflect corpulence, with a broadly curving wall of windows at the rear that can be completely opened to the two pool areas beyond (and, one can assume, the decidedly noncorpulent figures there) and integrates into Encore's XS nightclub.

The emphasis at Botero is on steak plus seafood such as crispy frog legs, a tasting of crab and a "crudo" tasting of various raw fish. Steaks are in the $39 to $175 range (the latter for Japanese Kobe); olive-oil-poached halibut is listed at $39.

No less spectacular but in an entirely different way is Switch, where the executive chef is Marc Poidevin, formerly executive chef for catering and special events at Wynn and, before that, executive chef at Le Cirque at Bellagio.

From a design standpoint, Switch is Cirque du Soleil-meets-Walt Disney. Walls that appear perfectly permanent (including one set lined with pairs of open French doors) suddenly rise up into the ceiling, to be replaced by leaded glass or nothing at all (which affords an unobstructed view of the resort's flower-filled atrium). The walls change, too, and so does the ceiling, and it all happens about every 25 minutes.

From a food standpoint, it's French-inspired steak and seafood. In addition to the requisite steaks, the menu lists The Ultimate Filet Rossini (with sauted foie gras and shallot marmalade), braised rabbit fricassee and grilled Maine sea scallops. Steaks run $39 to $61; the rabbit is $34.

Wazuzu is led by executive chef Jet Tila and is pan-Asian in regard to both food and feel. It's decorated in bright red with black accents, and a crystal dragon made of 90,000 Swarovski crystals and 2,400 lights extends across the considerable length of the back wall. The only restaurant at Wynn and Encore that offers sushi at lunch, Wazuzu (the name means "nine dragons") has a lengthy list of sushi both familiar (spicy tuna roll) and exotic (live lobster sashimi) plus Thai (tom yum goong), Vietnamese (fresh shrimp summer rolls) and Chinese dishes (pork belly buns) and dim sum (shu mai). Sushi prices run $7 to $100 (the latter for the High "Roll"er, with tori, Maine lobster, Osetra caviar and more), entrees $16 to $25.

Sinatra is graced with portraits of the chairman of the board himself -- including one, in the Board Room, with the chairman of the board and Wynn chairman of the board Steve Wynn. Also notable are historic French crystal obelisks flanking the bar and a crystal clipper ship suspended above it and two outdoor dining areas, each with three tables and a fireplace.

Executive chef Theo Schoenegger, formerly of Patina in Los Angeles, has designed a menu that includes entrees such as cioppino, branzino puttanesca, osso buco and sides including soft polenta with mascarpone and Parmesan and a wild-mushroom saute. Entree prices range from $37 to $55.

At Society Cafe Encore, executive chef Kim Canteenwalla has retooled old-school favorites with a modern twist. It serves breakfast, lunch, dinner and on into late-night, with the ambience of the restaurant shifting with the time of day.

Among the menu's offerings are a quail fry with truffle mac and cheese; barbecued braised pork short ribs; grilled steaks, fish and lamb; and tagliatelle Bolognese eggplant. Entree prices run from $14 to $40.

Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@ reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0474.

 

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