Friday, January 1, 2010

Las Vegas: Twist by Pierre Gagnaire

The much anticipated debut dinner of 2009, Twist by Pierre Gagnaire.

For those who have been living under a rock last year, Twist is Chef Pierre Gagnaire's debut restaurant in the U.S. This Las Vegas outpost is the ONLY place in the country to experience the extraordinary craft of this French three-star Michelin chef.

Should I say more?

Chef Gagnaire's self named restaurant in Paris, France, Pierre Gagnaire, is ranked ninth on the S. Pellegrino World's 50 Best Restaurants (ranked third in 2006 and 2007). He is essentially proclaimed a pioneer of the fusion movement.

As a final hoorah of 2009, Marc and I experienced the unexpected senses of Twist. So here is our story.

Twist is located on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental at the newly opened CityCenter. After hopping into a swanky elevator that lends up to the lobby of the 23rd floor, we walked around the corner toward a narrow hallway. A few feet from the restrooms is the restaurant. Hanging over the restaurant is somewhat of a floating wine loft.

We noticed that the staff was friendly and attentive, even smiling. A host approached us almost immediately even though we arrived twenty minutes before our reservation time. In a matter of minutes, we were seated. As the hostess escorted us to our table, we see that the wine loft is indeed located upstairs with a glass staircase that can be seen toward the front of the dining room.

Toward my left was the bar area and on my right was additional seating. The restaurant was designed by Adam D. Tihany of Tihany Design. The interior is illuminated by 300 globes seeming to float across the ceiling while the surrounding wall art looked like cracked egg shells.

The table setting was modern with a touch of opulence. At each table was a glass sphere filled with water and a spotted purple doriopsisium orchid. The outer exterior was lined with 20 foot floor to ceiling windows that overlook the city lights.

When we received the menu, it was fitted inside a beautiful folio with a raised textured print. The 'cracked eggs' motif was also embossed into the folio. The menu for the evening was a special prix fixe menu that was created for the Christmas holiday. Translation: More expensive than the regular tasting menu.

We started off with cocktails. Pictured above is a lemongrass mojito. When in doubt with ordering cocktails at a fancy schmancy resto, get a mojito.

Before we start with the canapés, there is something to note. All of the canapes came out simultaneously along with the bread and amuse bouche which was a trio. Imagine the pre-courses of the pre-course all in one shot. There was so much food on the table that it was like a playground of bite-sized goodness. Overwhelming, yet twisted in a way that we didn't even care what direction we were going. Everything looked exquisite. Definitely different from other dining experiences.

Canapé #1: Holder Salad Mix

Canapés #2 & #3: Souffle Cake with Pecorino Cheese & Ginger Biscuit

Canapé #4: Sarrasson Cream and Organic Salmon

Amuse Bouche Trio:
- Foie Gras Custard, Turnips Soaked in Campari
- Braised Lettuce
- Toast Melba "5"

Bread Trio:
- Wheat Molasses with raisin and walnuts
- Country rye
- French ciabatta

Bread Butters
- Truffled Butter
- Unsalted Butter
- Fleur De Sel

Course #1: Zezette
Gnocchi, Langoustine Cake, Cuttlefish, Zezette Broth

The Zezette broth was served over the Langoustine cake, two types of gnocchi and cuttlefish.

Course #2a: Pumpkin Veloute
Smoked Pumpkin Veloute

Along with Braised Chicory with Spinach

Course #2b: Scallops
Foie Gras Soup perfumed with Amontillado, roasted scallops, montgomery cheddar.

Course #3a: Beef Sirloin
Truffled Antichoke Veloute, Roasted Potato and Brussel Sprout

Course 3b: Four Story Hill Farm Chicken Two Ways
Seared Breast with Ginger, Braised Salsify, Golden Raisins

Truffled Ballotine, Young Salad, Olive Oil, Lemon Honey Dressing

Special silverware was presented before the dessert courses. The three desserts were inspired by French traditional patisseries. Again, all of the desserts came out simultaneously.

Dessert #1: Christmas Chocolate Cake, Caraibe Ganache and Pure Cocoa Sorbet

Dessert #2: Exotic Fruit Salad, White Sorbet and Passion Fruit

Dessert #3: Almond Parfait, Fleur De Sel Caramel

When we thought it was all over, here comes the petit fours. A high-end meal is not complete with these tiny, bite-sized desserts.

Lemon Ice
Frozen lemon topped with Spanish oil

Almond cookies, green tea leafs with toasted pine nuts and assorted meringues

Even though this meal was prix fixe, it was quite delicious. The main courses (The Beef Sirloin and Chicken Two Ways) were quite large. It may look small in the photos, but in reality it was quite a large portion. We were both stuffed by the time the dessert courses came along. The highlight of the evening, the Zezette broth. While it was being poured into the bowl, I can smell its green'ish essence (I'm not sure what was in it) but it was amazing. A similar course is available on the regular menu but instead of langoustine its chicken.

Afterthoughts: Dining at a Gagnaire establishment is like sitting in the driver's seat of an exotic supercar and pushing its redline. If you can't handle the power, get out of the driver's seat and go ride a Geo Metro. Luckily for us, we drive an exotic sportscar and we know how to ride it hard. :)

Things to know:
  • Twist serves dinner nightly on Tuesday to Saturday from 6:00pm to 10:30pm.
  • Reservations are required. Book reservations by calling 888.881.9367 or online at OpenTable.
  • Dress code: Smart casual, jacket required. Coat check is complimentary.
  • The dinner menu can be found here. The dessert menu can be found here.
  • Price Range: $$$$, the Chef's tasting menu is $160.
  • Cocktails are at least $16.00.
  • The restroom is located a few feet outside the restaurant entrance.
  • Chef's table: Not that I'm aware of. Every seat in the house is as good as it gets. Tables near the windows will set a nice tone for a romantic evening.
  • Celebrating a special event? The staff will switch out the table centerpiece with a much larger arrangement.
  • Food photography: The resto was surprisingly well-lit. Not dim at all.
  • This place is not for the faint of heart. The craft of Gagnaire needs to be respected and those deserving need to take notice.

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire
3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South
Las Vegas, NV 89109


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