In a time when Las Vegas has become all about creating a new restaurant to wow guests, anyone who has ever been to Aureole by Chef Charlie Palmer can be thankful that, with just a few tweaks, the famed wine venue is still the focal point of dining in Mandalay Bay. The wine tower is in tact, but a revamped interior and a menu that still focuses on fresh and local ingredients – and now lends itself to sharing plates – all offer more flavorful experiences for the diner.
First and foremost, there is no restaurant quite like Aureole when it comes to wine. While there were changes, the iconic 50-foot wine tower and its selection of over 3,000 bottles remains stunningly intact. While that many bottles can be intimidating to even the most experienced wine connoisseurs, Aureole has added a rotating, by-the-glass list of 48 wines, and the menu offers two wine recommendations for each dish. But ordering a bottle is still the way to go, as it allows you to have one of the wine angels make their way up the tower to grab your chosen bottle.
The new menu concept is categorized into the three foundations of dining: surf, ranch, and root, with each foundation offering you eight selections. The wide ranging menu takes you through seasonal vegetables, fresh fish and beef that are as beautiful as you will find at any steakhouse in Las Vegas.
The surf is really the most inspired portion of the menu from the kitchen of Executive Chef Johnny Church. The Bay Scallops "Sandwich" is truly unique. The scallops are cooked to perfection, but it is the subtle sweetness of the passion fruit glaze, and the fabulous contrast in texture from the funnel-like accompaniment that brings this dish all together. Sea bass is certainly front and center in this portion of the menu, as you can order it charred and finished off with a cashew, raisin soy butter, or to share, you can take on the entire sea bass, complimented with a chimichurri. Finally, the other dish for those who can't get enough seafood in one serving, the saffron risotto will hit all of your taste buds with a combination of prawns, clams, mussels and crabs.
If you see the Creekstone Farms 48 ounce porterhouse before you order, you are more than likely going to feel the need to give this a try. Probably the most decadent and beautiful steak you will ever see, it is a true masterpiece and you might just need more than two people to topple this entree. The steak lineup continues with the 4x16oz bone-in-ribeye, and then there’s the filet mignon that is so tender it almost cuts itself. However, don't look past the beef cheek potato raviolo. The beef is slow cooked and encased in the delicate raviolo, but it is the rich, smoked tomato cream sauce that steals this dish. Everything you would want in a tomato sauce, and the smokiness will linger with each bite. Finally, the richness of the shaved pecorino manages to take this to another level of flavor.
Let's not forget the root, although it is tough to compete with the other two menus. The white asparagus and truffles is a spectacular dish that hold its own. The white asparagus is a little more delicate and mild as opposed to green asparagus, which allows it to take on more of the flavors it is prepared with. In this case, you have a plethora of riches, as it is served on a bed of espeletee hollandaise sauce and topped off with shaved truffles. If you are expecting to be wowed by the flavor of truffle, you are going to be disappointed, despite more than enough being included in the dish. The flavors all meld together instead of having that typical overpowering truffle flavor.
As the saying goes, "save the best for last." Aureole manages to do that, even after a fabulous meal. The Foie Gras Martini is one of those drinks that you take a drink and set it down, and just take a moment to let the fabulousness of what you just experienced sink in. The presentation is almost as good as the drink itself. You are served a martini glass filled with cotton candy, then your server brings over the foie gras that has been whipped into a smooth silky texture. He then pours it over the cotton candy, leaving you with a drink of pure richness and sweet decadence; all of the flavors that have been folded into the foie gras leave it with a much more subtle flavor that what you are likely to expect. This is one of those flavors that, when you leave Las Vegas, will linger in your mind for years to come.
While Aureole has been given a bit of a facelift, you still get one of the best fine dining experiences in all of Las Vegas. When you see that wine tower and make your way downstairs to Aureole, you will dine in Las Vegas style but you will be in a setting that manages to take you away from feeling as if you are next to a slot machine; you really are taken away to an intimate dining experience that is truly memorable.
For more information visit: Aureole