It’s been a tough couple of years for Las Vegas restaurants, with seemingly as many closings as openings. But their number is getting a boost this week as MGM-Mirage rolls out the CityCenter’s Vdara on Tuesday, Crystals today and the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas on Friday. And the restaurants in them are as diverse as the clientele promises to be.
You’d be very safe in saying Silk Road is Vdara’s signature restaurant, because it’s the only one at the hotel and spa, therefore serving breakfast, lunch and dinner. But Martin Heierling, executive chef of both the restaurant and the resort (and, in case his name is familiar, Sensi at Bellagio), assures that this is no mere coffee shop.
“It’s actually three different restaurants,” Heierling said.
That’s partly because of the interior, which showcases bright colors — mainly oranges and pinks — that are eye-poppingly vibrant when the sun’s streaming in the broad walls of windows but softens to golden tones in the softer lighting after night falls.
It’s also because of the menus, which are relatively distinct during the different times of the day (sans the coffee-shop bleed from one meal to the next) and have Mediterranean shadings that reflect the restaurant’s name.
A breakfast item Heierling seems most excited about is the signature Eggs, Eggs, Eggs, which is poached, fried and scrambled eggs with homemade chutneys. Another breakfast dish: free-range turkey hash with Turkish eggs, spiced kirmizi butter and Greek yogurt relish. Lunch dishes include tagine-steamed Maine mussels, dinner roast suckling pig with mustard fruits.
Coffee shop, anyone?
An “aggressive” pricing structure will help Silk Road be approachable but at the same time, “I want the food to surpass expectations,” Heierling said.
“I always like to do something a little more interesting,” he said. “It’s a lot harder to do.”
Another thing Heierling expects to build excitement at Silk Road is the view out those expansive windows. CityCenter is designed to look like an urban area — although a clean, brand-spankin’, shiny-new urban area — providing the feel of a cosmopolitan city among the faux-European/glitzy atmosphere of Las Vegas.
“It makes you feel like you’re in a city,” he said. “Only a few places in Las Vegas have it.”
Right across the center of that city-in-microcosm is the Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas, with Twist by Pierre Gagnaire on the 23rd floor. In addition to the dramatic view, the Adam Tihany-designed Twist has a glass staircase to a suspended wine loft and is lighted by more than 300 golden globes that appear to float in mid-air. And, of course, it has Gagnaire, a genius of the fusion movement, with restaurants in Paris, London, Tokyo, Seoul, Dubai and the Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong (but not the United States, until now). The food is a fresh twist on classic French cuisine.
The Mandarin Oriental also has Mozen Bistro, an Asian-flavored contemporary kitchen theater with sushi bar, noodle bar and rotisserie; the Tea Lounge, with afternoon tea and its accompanying rituals; the Poolside Cafe; and the Amore Patisserie.
On the opposite side of Vdara is Crystals, CityCenter’s indoor shopping and entertainment center. One entrance is flanked by the two-story combo of actress Eva Longoria Parker’s Latin-infused restaurant Beso and elegant nightclub Eve, and the as-yet-unopened Todd English’s T.E. Pub.
Across the shopping area is Mastro’s Ocean Club from Southern California-based Mastro’s Restaurants. Specializing in steaks, 2-foot-tall seafood towers and dry-ice martinis, the restaurant is nestled in a slatted “tree house” that overlooks the promenade below.
In between are two restaurants from Wolfgang Puck, The Pods and Brasserie Puck. The Pods are three slatted structures shaped sort of like old-fashioned band shells, situated near the main staircase and serving Mediterranean and American food. Brasserie Puck also carries a Mediterranean influence, on the platform of a French brasserie.
Contact reporter Heidi Knapp Rinella at hrinella@review journal.com or 702-383-0474.