Las Vegas Tasting Menus—A Great Way to a Full Belly, Without Breaking the Bank
Don’t let the words tasting menus be daunting—it’s probably one of the most cost-effective ways to get to know a restaurant. When the economy tanked, restaurants turned to tasting, or prix fixe, menus to lure in guests to, well, taste their way through a restaurant’s menu. For a set price, diners are guaranteed a certain number of courses (anywhere from a standard three, such as lunch at Milos, to an exorbitant 16, as in the degustation at Joël Robuchon) that usually include signature dishes for which the restaurant is best known. Multiple courses usually mean smaller portions, but after six or seven, all those bites add up to a full belly, without breaking the bank.
One of Las Vega’s most formal temples of fine dining, Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand, with its 16-course degustation, will set you back $445 per person (and that’s without wine). That can be a little hard to swallow, so the next best thing is heading to the more casual concept next door, L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon, headed by Steven Benjamin. While no less a fine-dining restaurant than its more regal neighbor, there’s a more comfortable aspect to L’Atelier and an easier check average at $168 for the 10-course Menu Decouverte de Saison (that’s their Seasonal Discovery Menu, if your French is a little rusty). And you shall discover the finest of Robuchon, from his elegant langoustines cooked in green curry and coconut milk, to his famous roasted quail stuffed with foie gras and legendary pommes puree.
Estiatorio Milos is chef Costas Spiliadis’ place at The Cosmopolitan, and the restaurant’s prix-fixe lunch menu is considered one of the best deals in town. The midday meal consists of three courses for $25.15. Begin your Greek journey with a selection of mezze, or dips such as tarama and tzatziki (salmon roe and cucumber and yogurt spreads), ripe tomato salad, or grilled, tender octopus. Your second course showcases what Milos is known for: fresh seafood, flown in straight from the Mediterranean daily. Choose from a whole lavraki, or grilled sea bass, dressed simply with good olive oil and lemon, or shrimp saganaki, or even a lamb chop, if you’re feeling that Greek. Finish it off with true Greek yogurt or fresh fruit. It’s a simple, elegant meal, but the price alone is enough to make you say, “Opa!”
Restaurant Guy Savoy by Guy Savoy is inside Caesars Palace; at $290 per person, the Guy Savoy Signature Menu is not cheap. But considering one of the first dishes, the Colors of Caviar, costs $95 à la carte, this nine-course menu might be considered a steal. Aside from the roe-laden starter, Savoy’s famous artichoke and black truffle soup with black truffle mushroom brioche (a cool $75 on its own) makes an appearance, as does red mullet filet and the cute tout petits pois, or “peas all around.”
Sage, the restaurant by chef Shawn McClain at Aria, offers two tasting menus: one early-bird special with three courses for $59 and the four-course signature tasting for $89 (with additional wine or beer pairing for $44). While the three-course menu is perfunctory, with options such as heirloom tomato salad or chilled sweet corn soup as a starter, and roasted chicken or flat-iron steak as an entrée, the four-course menu can introduce you to the simple, clean flavors that McClain and his team do best. The signature menu presents the starter option of Kusshi oysters topped with Tabasco sorbet and tequila mignonette or a crazy-good Wagyu beef tartare adorned with a slow-poached egg and crispy chocolate. That is followed by grilled Spanish octopus, if you like, along with your choice of 48-hour braised beef belly or bacon-wrapped Iberico pork loin.
Andre Rochat was one of the first established chefs in Las Vegas, and he has carried his legacy with him, creating some favorites along the way. The Sunset Prix Fixe at his restaurant Alizé inside the Palms is ideal for the pretheater crowd, keeping things short and sweet with three courses for $75. Smoked Alaskan salmon with eggs mimosa, caviar, avocado, and potato crisp is an option for a signature starter, with heartier options, such as free-range chicken or beef rib eye, for the entrée. Add to this meal the spectacular view from the top of the Palms, and this is one of the most valuable packages overlooking the Strip.
For more information on where to dine check out The Unofficial Guide to Las Vegas by Bob Sehlinger.
Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand: By Krista [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Guy Savoy in front of his restaurant in Las Vegas: By RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons