Vacation Las Vegas- Summer 2012

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Anyone who is familiar with our magazine knows that we love Las Vegas!  Our most visited destination by far, the great thing about Vegas is that there is always something new to do.  With its multitude of shows, clubs, restaurants and attractions (with more opening all the time), Las Vegas always has something new and unique to offer and if you don’t want to, you never have to go to the same place twice.  Of course, you’ll want to go to many of the places we visit twice (or more) because they are so wonderful.  We found two more very worthy destinations this last time we visited the city.  While we didn’t have much time to visit a lot of places, this was truly a case of ‘quality over quantity’!

Payard Pâtisserie & Bistro
Caesar’s Palace • 877-346-4642

http://www.caesarspalace.com/casinos/caesars-palace/restaurants-dining/payard-patisserie-detail.html
We are used to dining at large restaurants that seat hundreds when we visit Las Vegas and we’re also used to dining experiences that take upwards of two hours (sometimes three!).  Our most recent restaurant experience was a little different, though, but in a very good way.  Payard Patisserie & Bistro, located in Caesar’s Palace, is the creation of award-winning pastry chef Francois Payard and is a beautifully designed, multi-layered experience that includes a chocolate shop, a pastry shop and a traditional dining room serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.  We visited the dining room for an early dinner and were surprised to see that it seated only about 40 people.  It’s really an adorable little bistro, round in shape with a small kitchen in the middle where you can see the chefs at work and white leather banquettes around the edges.  The whole atmosphere is very intimate and would be perfect for a lunch with family or a dinner date.

Just because the bistro is small and connected to a pastry shop, don’t think it’s not classy!  Payard is first-class all the way with heavy linens, porcelain plates and top-notch service.  Our server, Richard, was at our beck and call and was happy to explain the menu to us and give us his suggestions.  We started by looking at their new wine cocktail menu, which is available only during dinner service.  We decided to try the Mojito Rouge (Red Mojito), which is a twist on the classic drink with muddled mint and lime mixed with Louis M. Martini cabernet sauvignon with agave nectar and soda.  This beautiful drink is as well presented as it is delicious and highly recommended for wine lovers and non wine-lovers alike.

Next it was on to the appetizer menu, which involved a difficult choice as there were so many yummy things to choose from.  We settled on a bowl of the lobster bisque, the Coquilles St. Jacques (seared scallops, potato gratin, citronelle beurre blanc) and the Payard Cheese Souffle (garnished with white truffle oil and parmesan cheese). These were probably two of the most amazing appetizers we’ve ever tried.  They were prepared perfectly with just the right amount of richness and were, of course, beautifully presented.

The entrees were just as impressive.  We ordered the fish of the day, which was a White Char garnished with Yukon gold pommes puree, onion jus and fried leeks, the Filet Mignon (served with an amazing Beurre Maitre d’Hotel sauce and Gratin Dauphinois potatoes) and the braised lamb shank with Yukon gold pommes puree, quince and sauterne sauce.  The filet was absolutely outstanding and the rich, buttery sauce paired perfectly with it.  And though I’m not usually a big fan of lamb, this shank was fall off the bone tender and was wonderfully complemented by the sides.

Of course we couldn’t visit the restaurant of a pastry chef without having dessert, and we ordered some amazing ones including the berry crepes the George V (chocolate and vanilla mousse with caramelized peanuts and a black sacher biscuit).  Chocolate lovers will adore the George V while those with a bit lighter tastes will gravitate toward the crepes.  Both were absolutely delightful!

We recommend Payard for those who want a bit of a different experience in Las Vegas.  We suggest you go early as we assume their small space fills up quickly as the night progresses and you want to be able to watch the masters at work in the nearby kitchen.


Absinthe
Roman Court outside Caesar’s Palace
www.absinthevegas.com
Looking for a truly unique show experience?  Not offended by wild, off-color humor?  Enjoy being close to the action?  Then Absinthe is for you!  This critically acclaimed acro-cabaret variety show is presented in a large tent that is intricately decorated.  There is not a bad seat in the house as this show is presented in the round and no one is more than ten or so rows away from the action.

It’s difficult to describe this show, but probably the best description is on Absinthe’s website: ‘Imagine Cirque du Soleil as channeled through Rocky Horror Picture Show’.  Absinthe is ‘hosted’ by The Gazilionnaire, a wacky character who does his best to offend and insult everyone in his cast as well as the audience.  His sidekick, Penny, is a loony little thing with crude jokes and a very dirty mind.  This humor is off-set by amazing world-class artists performing feats of strength, balance, danger and flexibility that will have you gasping and astounded.  Throw in some sultry dancing, beautiful singing and some more humor and you have Absinthe.  We loved the show, but want to warn our readers that it is not for the faint of heart or easily offended.  Go in with an open mind and be ready to laugh and be amazed and you will love the show!