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Inside one of the best new restaurants of 2023 in Las Vegas

Three putti rendered in loose, colorful brushstrokes gambol on the ceiling of the new LPM Restaurant & Bar in The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas.

One winged baby spreads his arms in celebration, another carries a string market bag bulging with ingredients. A third putto lifts a Tomatini cocktail, a sweet-savory communion of muddled Campari tomatoes (so juicy!), vodka, white balsamic, simple syrup, and salt and pepper.

The restaurant has called the Tomatini the “essence of LPM in a glass”: bright, stylish, cleanly flavored. LPM opened in London in 2007; other locations in Europe, the Middle East, Hong Kong and Miami followed. Vegas marks the ninth (and largest) LPM, with a terrace overlooking the Strip. (LPM used to stand for La Petite Maison, but the restaurant uses only initials now.)

LPM convenes a signature mix of food and drink, art and design. The menu celebrates the south of France, with excursions to the Italian Riviera next door.

Jean Cocteau, the French artist, poet, playwright, novelist and filmmaker of the early 20th century, inspired a cocktail list (really, a novella) — drink choices, drawings, pensées — bound in a textured, tomato-red cover with a snap clasp.

Cocteau’s fondness for sketching on the walls at the homes of his friends also inspired the sketches and sayings all over the restaurant, their elegant quick-draw whimsy ably abetted by gilt frames and a pewter bar top and a profusion of fresh flowers.

LPM delivers a vibrant yet seemingly effortless experience: joie de vivre meets sprezzatura. But no attitude, please.

“It’s a little bit risqué, a little bit daring, but still sophisticated and high quality. It’s relaxed and comfortable, without pretension,” Nicolas Budzynski, CEO of the restaurant, said of the vibe during a tour and tasting for friends of the house just before LPM opened quietly on Nov. 14.

“If you want to laugh, you laugh. If you want to dip your bread in the olive oil of the shrimp, you dip.”

Even after the dip of an initial visit, LPM already feels like one of the most compelling restaurants to open this year in Vegas.

Mediterranean standards

Beyond the pewter bar at LPM lies a bijou lounge, something new to the restaurant group. An iron balustrade, a tiled floor, tables set with tomato-red chairs and a banquette garnished with plump pillows help define the space.

You might settle in to sip Tomatinis, or Figuière Méditerranée rosé from a family-owned property in Provence. Either pairs beautifully with several of the hors d’oeuvres.

Marinated sweet red peppers are wrapped in foil, baked in a charcoal oven, then skinned and sliced and presented in a slick of olive oil, with coins of parchment-thin garlic. Leaves of hamachi are spiked by citrus dressing. Warm prawns are classic Mediterranean simplicity: sweet prawns (halved on the bias), olive oil, lemon juice, ribbons of fresh basil.

And here are escargots de Bourgogne, come to the shore, the snails prepared traditionally with garlic, butter and parsley, but also with Parmesan and Pernod.

In the dining room

LPM at The Cosmopolitan encompasses 11,500 square feet and 235 seats (excluding the bar) in the former Estiatorio Milos, which departed in 2020 for The Venetian. In the dining room, white cloths drape the tables, which are set with culinary centerpieces: tomatoes, lemons, a rustic bottle of olive oil, salt and pepper shakers, a knife.

You slice the tomatoes and lemons, apply spurts of citrus, a few glugs of olive oil, season et voila!: DIY salad. At the edge of the dining room lies a bar for fresh salads, blown glass bowls brimming with peppers and fennel, and an oyster bar with a rank of tomato-red barstools.

A platform slides from beneath dining room chairs to accommodate bags and other carryalls. “Truffle Man” by artist Max Cartier, depicting a figure formed from black truffles, decorates the cover of the menu.

Enlivening the walls

Everywhere at LPM, art invites glances, viewing or closer inspection.

There’s a painting of the Michelin Man whizzing by on a scooter. A collage shows a woman in a slinky dress beside red letters spelling out IL N’Y A PAS D’AMOUR AU HASARD (“There is no love by chance”), a play on a quote from Cocteau.

An image of “Liberty Leading the People,” the 1830 masterwork by Delacroix, replaces the faces of the main figures, including the female embodiment of the French Republic, with the faces of characters from Tintin, the 20th century Belgian cartoon also popular in France.

Sunsets and slices

Back at the bar, a guest sips a Tomatini, which resembles a rosy Riviera sunset in a coupe and tastes like the quintessence of Caprese, but zhooshed. Another guest forks into a slice of cheesecake. The dessert strikes an unexpected note. Cheesecake? Here?

But this is no ho-hum cheesecake. This cheesecake has been whipped with French baking cream. This cheesecake is as light and airy as LPM itself. Could we turn this into a tini?

Contact Johnathan L. Wright at jwright@reviewjournal.com. Follow @JLWTaste on Instagram and @ItsJLW on X.

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