photos courtesy La Cave, Cirque du Soleil,  MGM Resorts International, Anthony Mair, Anthony Mair, and Bill Bokelmann 

La Cave Refreshes Its Decor

La Cave at the Wynn has reopened after completing renovations of its indoor space, renewing its décor with a brighter look and new furnishings. Its remarkable plant wall, comprised of live plants lining the wall from floor to ceiling, has tripled in size. Expected to be completed in March is an expanded outdoor area, which will be enclosed in a moveable glass enclosure and incorporate seating for 45 and space for 80 for standing receptions. 

My favorite time to visit is during the butler-style (you don’t leave your seat, all of the dishes are delivered to your table) all-you-can-eat Weekend Brunch. Awesome items including Bacon & Egg Flatbread, Filet Mignon Eggs Benedict, Veal Short Rib Hash and Angus Mini Burgers remain on the menu and new additions are Snickers Pancakes with caramelized Bananas Foster, Chicken Wings and Waffles, Mini Bagel & Lox and Cinnamon Apple Waffle; and the Bottomless Libations option has been expanded to include selected wine, beer and cocktails. Also, the brunch, formerly only on Sunday, is now offered on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

www.wynnlasvegas.com/Dining/CasualDining/LaCave 

Dinner and Show a Winning Combination at The Mirage

In May, 2017 the Japanese chain restaurant Japonais converted to Otoro, after completing some upgrades that transformed an already beautiful dining space to an even more inviting room. Décor elements invoke both a contemporary and tranquil feel, with a cascading water wall, faux oversized bonsai tree, hanging lights ensconced in interlocking copper bars, rich tones of burgundy and burnt orange and an undulating wood slat ceiling that conjures up an image of ocean waves. 

What hasn’t changed is a menu featuring fine dining Japanese cuisine and the wood-fired robata grill, located at the front of the restaurant, which prepares fish, meats and vegetables, such as Japanese eggplant with white miso glaze and melt-in-your-mouth miso soy-marinated Chilean sea bass.

Another worthy starter choice (or full meal if you choose) are a large selection of nigiri/sashimi and sushi rolls like the bakuchi specialty roll I enjoyed, comprised of yellowtail, tempura crunch, jalapeno and yuzu sauce. Another standout starter is the fried calamari dressed with wasabi vinaigrette and sweet & sour sauce. 

For main courses, the katsu rice bowl can stand as a meal by itself, as it is loaded with chicken breast, truffled fried rice, asparagus, mushrooms, leeks and fried egg. A signature dish, and understandably so, is the 10-oz cast iron wagyu striploin with dipping sauces of housemade teriyaki, Japanese BBQ sauce and miso butter that are as delicious as the extremely high quality steak.

Complementing the fine dining fare are several sakes and a large Japanese whisky list, with choices from the Toki, Hibiki, Yamazaki, Hakusha, Iwai and Akashi distilleries; and fine American bourbons like Eagle Rare, Angel’s Envy and Blanton’s. 

I suggest you save room for dessert, for the pineapple snow is a rendition of my favorite childhood dessert, a pineapple upside down cake, with this version enhanced with pineapple shaved ice, vanilla bean gelato and vanilla sauce. 

Heading the kitchen is executive chef Yoshi Park, whose Japanese first name and Korean last name are significant of his family tree and the fact that he was born in South Korea and raised in Japan. After coming to the US at the age of 17 and working as a busboy and server he discovered the kitchen was where he belonged and after graduating from the CIA-Hyde Park spent time at Thomas Keller’s renowned French Laundry in San Francisco.

www.mirage.com/en/restaurants/otoro.html

After dining at Otoro, the best present you can give yourself is heading over to the Cirque du Soleil Beatles LOVE show. Anyone who loves the timeless music of one of the greatest groups of all time along with interpretive, circus-based artistic and athletic stage performances will surely enjoy LOVE. Although I had seen the show twice before, it had been 7 or 8 years since my last time and with nearly all of the show revised with new acts, costumes, choreography and technology, it was like seeing it for the first time. The show is performed Tuesday-Saturday at 7 and 9:30 p.m. in a theatre in the round built especially for Beatles LOVE. Do yourself a favor and check out dates and show times at www.cirquedusoleil.com/beatles-love

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse New Look Unveiled After $2 Million Makeover 

Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steakhouse is part of a sizeable chain with 14 locations throughout the US, but stands out as an exemplary unique representative of the Las Vegas restaurant fine dining scene that appeals to both tourists and locals. The Las Vegas outpost opened in 2000, and before entering its third decade initiated a complete remodel in July. The 10,000-square-foot space has been upgraded to the tune of about $2 million, as the old school look that had exuded a manly, dark feel with dark wood, leather and brass, has been modernized and brightened. Changes include a new front opening that is more welcoming, and a brighter environment that projects both comfort and elegance with new crystal chandelier light fixtures and a new color palette featuring chartreuse, cream and charcoal gray with metallic accents of brushed brass and bronze. However, some of the previous masculine touches have been incorporated, such as leather and velvet banquettes surrounding the tables, including three raised booths, dubbed the Godfather booths.

The space also includes 4,200 square feet of meetings and convention dining space, with three private dining rooms seating 20-120, equipped with laser cut metal screen installations and high tech media capabilities.

One thing that thankfully was not touched in the remodel is the one-of-a-kind James Bond table. Located just off of the entrance, at the touch of a button the automated wood table opens up to reveal 18 hand-etched wine bottles commemorating the Bond movie series. The table, purchased for $362,000 (with proceeds going to charity), is a piece of artwork, with all of the bottles hand painted by Napa artists. 

Speaking of wine, vino is a large part of the Del Frisco’s experience. The wine list currently has 1,300 labels hailing from every major wine region, including Italy, France, Greece, Spain, Napa and even Mexico. An expansive wine cellar, held at 60 degrees, reportedly houses the largest collection of large format wine bottles of any restaurant in the US, with bottles as enormous as 27 liters. Prices range from $50-$50,000 with notables including the 1996 Maya Caymas 9-liter going for a mere $10,000. At a far reduced price are gems such as the delightful 2015 Robert Foley Vineyards “The Griffin,” a blend of Merlot, Petite Sirah, Charbono, Malbec, Syrah, Petit Verdot and Cabernet Sauvignon chosen for me by Wine Director Anthony Ramirez, which happened to be the “wine of the month.”   

As for the food, outstanding starters are the lobster bisque (chocked full of the luscious crustacean) and thick-cut Nueske’s bacon au poivre with bourbon molasses glaze. Of course the steaks are the main attraction, as they deserve to be, with the likes of the “Double Eagle” 45-day dry-aged, double-bone prime rib-eye steak and the popular 32-ounce Wagyu tomahawk chop. And as awesome as the Prime cuts are, the toppings and sauces are quite noteworthy, with options of foie gras, Tabasco bone marrow, truffle butter and bourbon peppercorn. You would be missing out if you skimped on the awesome collection of sides, with winning selections like creamed spinach (the best rendition I’ve ever had) and Brussel sprouts enhanced with bacon. An incredible finale is the butter cake with butter pecan ice cream, but there is also strawberry cheesecake with pecan crust and six-layer lemon cake with lemon glaze.   

Another thing this classic steakhouse is known for is the quality of its service, and after meeting Jack we can testify the reputation is warranted. Throughout our meal we were both entertained by her extremely funny wit, while all of our service needs were met efficiently and quickly. If you ask nicely, she may reveal the entertaining story of how she got her nickname (no, her real name is not Jack). It’s been said everyone has a story and she has several, all of which are hilarious. 

The location at 3925 Paradise on Restaurant Row on the western edge of the Hughes Center gives it a strategic placement. Being situated just down the street from the Las Vegas Convention Center and also near the Sands Convention Center allows it to attract the lion’s share of convention goers, as well as tourists venturing just a short distance from the Strip and locals who appreciate quality fine dining. 

delfriscos.com/steakhouse/las-vegas