What to do after two lunches in Vegas? Well, I guess a walk up the strip was in order. I parked at Aria, took the tram to the Bellagio, then headed up the strip. At Fashion Show Mall, where the Missus had checked out the latest from Lululemon the night before, I crossed the street and headed back.
On the way back, I decided to kill a couple of minutes at Harrah's, a place where I've had some luck in the past. I ended up making about $200 and decided it was time to flee.....
For our final dinner in Vegas, the Missus decided that we should do sort of a blow-out meal. Unfortunately, just about every place I wanted was booked, Guy Savoy, Joel Robuchon, even Picasso, no bueno. My fifth pick was Sage, in the Aria. I'd heard some nice things about the place and it seemed a lot less assuming than the other four. Years ago, when Michelin Stars and stuff like that really mattered to us, we'd have been disappointed. But after doing The French Laundry, Spago, et al, the Missus and I decided that stuff really isn't for us. Some of it was stuffy and rather pretentious and you can get to the point where you're describing the food like a science project, not my style. But hey.....every once in a while you gotta live, right? And Sage really isn't that expensive.
We arrived right when they opened at 5. Though you might take a risk with the kitchen not being in full swing....they haven't hit their rhythm yet, I still prefer a more relaxed time. And though things might get kind of hectic at the tail end of your meal, you at least have enjoyed most of your meal.
We were the second party seated and our Server, who introduced himself as "Bond, as in you know...." was a pro's pro. He was also quite a character.....we came to find out his name was Jason Bond. Next up was what and how to order. You see, I wanted the Chef's Tasting Menu with the Beer Pairing, the Missus did not. And I understand the issues with pacing and all of that. If you're getting six courses and the person across from you is just getting an app and a main, well there's going to be a lot of dead time for the person having the conventional meal. Again, we plan for the win-win. So when I explained to Mr Bond that only one of us would like the six course tasting, he tried to discourage us from doing that. Until I explained our proposal. I'd get the six course with the beer pairing and the Missus would get five starters. In essence we'd be creating our own little tasting menu. We've often found starters to be more interesting than mains in many cases. Bond got really excited about this and told us it was a great idea, he went to check with the kitchen, who he said was "excited about this". I don't know about that, but we also told him to have the kitchen sequence the starters any way they please....which would mean that it would indeed be like having our own tasting menu.
Things started out with what looked like Himalyan salt and a herb butter. We were shown the bread basket and the two different breads. The serious looking, but really funny young man said, "I think you should each take both." In the end we took one of each. We knew we had a pretty rich meal in front of us.
The sour dough was decent, nice textures. The bacon roll; well, we were tempted to get another.
We were brought an amuse of a Kumamoto Oyster with Tequila Mignonette, and Piquillo Pepper.
The mignonette had a nice tartness to it, very cleansing. Love the sweetness of Piquillo Peppers, I'll probably have to buy some one of these days.
When we had finished up the oyster, the first beer of our tasting arrived. This was a St Feuillien Saison from Belgium. Very crisp, with a nice, almost sweet aroma. This was very easy to drink, light and airy. We also noted that the temperature of the beer was just right on perfect.
This was paired with the Chilled Main Lobster. The brown butter added a nice nuttiness to the dish, making it seem a lot lighter than it was. The Missus is not a big lobster fan, but this lobster was wonderfully sweet and very tender.
The Missus got the Wagyu Beef Tartare ($18).
This was very good. The creamy lightly poached egg yolk just added that extra luxurious texture to the very fatty, melt in your mouth Wagyu Beef. Two interesting touches, the pickled mustard seeds which helped to cut the richness and the savory crisp chocolate made this dish just that much better.
Next up was an interesting dish, the Foie Gras Brulee. Tasting the combinations of flavors in this was rather unpleasant for me as I thought it way too sweet.
Though I loved the salted brioche, the brulee was too much like having candy and pudding for dinner. Great when you're in elementary school, but not after. The cocoa nibs did act to settle things down and take it into a more savory-coffee direction, but it was just too much, until...... I tried this with the beer pairing.
This dish was pared with the Dogfish Head Midas Touch. The Missus loved it as well, it has a mead-like texture and that honey like flavor. There some fruitiness to it and the Missus enjoyed that component....I'm thinking that is probably due to the use of muscat grapes in the making of this. It's a favorite beer of our now. This just seemed to take that sharp sweet edge off the Foie Gras Brulee. To me, this was an awesome pairing.
The Missus got the Grilled Spanish Octopus ($22):
You wouldn't have thought this was octopus if you looked at it. Bond told us they removed the suckers and such so as to "not scare the customers". The octopus was very tender, but this wasn't especially memorable.
My next dish was the Pan-Roasted Sea Scallop. Man, the Jamon Iberico, mild salty-sweet, along with the creamy sunchoke-parsley root, and the olive oil made for a wonderful match.
Scallop and cured pig, a match made in heaven....there should be a children's book by that name, don't you think?
This was paired with another beer from Belgium, Duvel. Very fizzy, clean, with what seems like a bit of spice, this didn't mess with the flavor of the scallops.
The Missus got Her second favorite dish of the evening; the Slow Poached Organic Farm Egg($18), which was almost obscured from view by all the shaved truffles.
The Missus just loved this, even the potato foam and the smoked potato. She was in egg-truffle heaven.
Next up was a very nice Venison Tenderloin. This might just be some of the most tender venison I've ever had.
Loved the pairing, the Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock looked really heavy, but was not. Has a raisin-chocolate, earthy flavor which goes well with the gamey venison.
Just to prove that there is too much of a good thing, we were stunned at the huge portion size of the Roasted Sweetbreads ($17).
The dish started out really good...especially the sweet and smokey glazed bacon, which was a like a nice smoked pork belly. The sweetbreads were good at first, not the best I've had, they could have been a bit more, well, gooey on the inside. But man, after a couple of bites of this rich stuff, you pretty much wanted to hoist up the white flag. I'd prefer it more lightly fried....and that portion size was quite large for sweetbreads. And yes TFD, these are thymus glands.
Our last two savory dishes were very good. The 48 Hour Beef Belly, was rich, but the roasted quince and the caraway spiced squash helped temper things.
This was served with a Chimay Grande Reserve which was very fruity, perhaps a bit too fruity for my taste.
The Missus's last dish was the Braised Beef Tongue ($19). All I can say is that this was outstanding. Looking all the world like it would be on the waxy side, this was tender to the touch. The celery moved the dish forward by cutting the richness as did the apple cider based sauce. This had the rich, slightly gamey flavor of well made beef tongue.
Our palates were given a nice respite with "Zambuca Caviar".......
Somebody in the kitchen is playing with spherification! I'm usually not a big fan of sweet anise flavors, but this really did the trick.
I really couldn't do much after this so the Missus had the Grapefruit Semifreddo.
The Missus and I really enjoyed our dinner at Sage. The staff made us feel comfortable. When I told "Bond" that we'd be exchanging plates and sharing, he encouraged it. The service was excellent, efficient, but not hovering nor stuffy. We had a great time......the GM of the restaurant even came over to chat. We never felt rushed and the meal was well paced, clocking in at just a tad over 2 hours. The bill wasn't too bad either. I gave you all the prices for the starters. The Chef's Tasting Menu clocks in at $120, the beer tasting an extra $50, so we're talking about $300 total. I'm kind of glad that my other four choices didn't pan out......
Sage in Aria Resort and Casino
3732 Las Vegas Blvd South
Las Vegas, NV 89109