Kirk and Cathy finally get to take things easy as Ed (from Yuma) is blogging today about a meal in Vegas about a month ago.
Usually when I am posting about a vacation or even just a couple of days in San Diego, I go in chronological order. However, this time, I want to start with Tina and my last dinner in Vegas – the splurge meal at Twist – while I still can remember most (some?) of it.
When I made the reservations, I had no idea that the Mandarin Oriental hotel containing the restaurant is allegedly one of only six five-star American hotels, and the only one in Vegas. From the moment of our arrival, when a valet parked our car and another guided us to the elevator, we were astounded by the level of service.
We were asked if we preferred sparkling or still water, and our water glasses were filled repeatedly throughout the meal.
After discussions with our waiter, Tina and I decided to go with the full five course grand tasting menu ($155) with the Discovery Wine pairing ($95).
Speaking of our waiter, I need to emphasize again the quality of the service. Waitstaff was ubiquitous, but not disruptive or intrusive. While everything was "proper," everyone was friendly and helpful, particularly our main waiter, Sunday, who hails from southern Nigeria and is very knowledgeable about the cuisine:
On another platter, a radish slice – looking like a mini tortilla – was folded over a shallot and sesame paste. Another radish slice was wrapped around truly excellent steak tartare lightly sprinkled with coarse salt, sortof a mini raw salami:
Accompanying these little tastes were two of the best green olives: rich, creamy, and mild. Beside them, a small silver serving bowl with coarse salt, Panko crumbs, two crunchy Parmesan mini biscuits, and four green wafers – none of which made much of an impression on me – though I inadvertently snapped a selfie, thanks to the base of the silver bowl:
At the bottom of the bowl lay an intense asparagus coulis that underlay the rest of the ingredients – including asparagus spears – and brought them together. Contrasting with the asparagus were the chunks of smoked hamachi and Asian pear. Cubes of another smoked fish were hidden inside the spinach leaf pouch, and the very thin radish and cucumber slices around the edge added crunch to the whole dish. Perhaps most interesting was the scoop of broccoli ice cream topped with caviar and gold foil. While this sounds like a mélange of flavors, the dish as a whole exceeded the sum of its parts. Even the smoked fish somehow enhanced the springtime flavors of the other ingredients.
Before this course, Tina and I had been sharing a flute of champagne ($26), which we finished along with the amuse bouche. Just in time, then, the wine pairings began with a full flavored crisp northern Italian white wine with flavors like Sauvignon Blanc or Soave:
Note the distinctive Riedel stemware; each wine we were served came with a different type of glass. In general, we were pleased by the pairings, but I wish I’d photographed each bottle because I did not recognize the labels and my notes for the entire meal get pretty sketchy as the evening and the wine drinking progressed.
This was certainly the best lobster I have eaten west of the Appalachians; while the serving was not large, it was masterfully prepared, and it was also perfectly matched by the fragrant and richly flavored white wine from southern Italy:
Likewise, the turbot poached in Nantes butter (with avocado, leeks, baby clams, and butter foam) was fresh and well prepared. The mild whitefish matched perfectly with the more subtle flavors of the glass of Marsanne from Crozes Hermitage in the northern Rhône Valley:
The thing that looks like a breadstick next to the beef is actually crusted dauphine potato topped with herbs. Like an edible pun.
The wine was certainly full-bodied and interesting, with a flavor profile that reminded me of a good Spanish garnacha, but it did not seem, to my pedestrian palate, to complement the beef as perfectly as the white wines had matched their dishes.
While not as spectacular as the view nor as interesting as the cuisine, the music playing softly in the background was various, pleasant, and intriguing. Early on, there was some Sinatra (that was expected, we were in Vegas), and then some Rolling Stones (was it "Tumbling Dice"?). And later I was pleased/amused to hear the Kinks' "Waterloo Sunset" about looking out over a mass of humanity during a beautiful sunset:
Now it's time for me to apologize for dessert. I have some pictures of the interesting and creative desserts, and some memory/notes about the various plates. However, Tina and I had been having a wonderful time, and because of medications I had been taking, I had not consumed much alcohol in months, so most of the pictures by this time are fuzzy and my notes and memory are hazy at best. I do remember, however, that the desserts were served with a glass of Malaga, a dessert wine from the South of Spain, I forgot to take a picture of the wine.
Overall, we had a wonderful experience. Virtually every dish was perfectly executed and the food was often interesting and creative, as were the wine pairings. The organization of the courses, the pacing of the meal, the friendly and professional service, and the stylish ambience elevated our splurge dinner to a level (and a price) beyond what we anticipated. As it was time to go, Tina took a final photo that blended neon Las Vegas with reflections of the interior of Twist. A good way to end this long post – thanks for reading:
More info and details about Twist can be found here: