Next up, Picasso in the Bellagio Hotel in the heart of the Las Vegas strip. Located just across the street from the Paris themed hotel, the Bellagio is the one with the cool fountain that was featured in the Oceans movie – so let’s start there. The fountain is cool when the music is cool i.e. Elvis singing Viva Las Vegas and not so cool when lame music like Proud to be an American is playing. That said, we were told that the cost of running the fountain is more than 1 million dollars per month. Only in Vegas. I was amazed at the power behind the moving water – at times it shot up in the air higher than the host hotel. At any rate, this is the view from the celebrated Picasso restaurant. Now in its 10th year, this five -diamond establishment is classic in decor and service with real Picasso art on the walls and very well trained servers on the floor. Chef Julian Serrano (formerly of Masa fame in SF) is in his kitchen every night – something you rarely see at Vegas outposts. I like and admire that…years ago, I worked with Julian on an event for American Express – he is a dedicated chef with focus – a rare quality in the days of celebrity chefs. This focus shows on the plate. The menu has two offerings; A five-course degustation menu ($123) and a four-course prix fixe ($113). We opted for the degustation menu featuring a lobster/corn course, a scallop preparation in a veal reduction, sauteed foie gras it all its glory and halibut as the main course. Dessert was offered from a short list that included something fruity, something chocolate, something berry etc. Wine pairings could be added for $63 per person but we decided to select our own bottle. Which brings me to the point of this blog. The wine list. In short, it was fantastic and the wine prices were not out of line – a refreshing treat in a city where a bad drink can cost up to $15. The list was constructed by Picasso’s resident Master Sommelier, Robert Smith. When he approached out table, I just knew that chatting with him would be the best part of the meal – and it was. We ordered a glass of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc for the first two courses and the a bottle of Zind Humbrecht Pinot Gris from Alsace. The wine packed a big flavor punch and was rich in texture – it paired PERFECTLY with the fois gras. I cannot stress it enough – the wine was perfect witht he fat of the duck liver. I could have and should have stopped there. If I had to be critical, my only thought is that the halibut was too light of a dish to follow the lobster/corn, scallop/veal reduction and the foie gras. Should have followed suit and gone with something fuller in body such as lamb or fowl. Not only did it rock your palate, it made wine pairing very difficult. It did not spot me – but probably should have…instead it was on to dessert! All in all – well worth the high price tag and another Vegas dining must. Cheers.
Culinary Gambling in Vegas: Picasso
About the Author: Marianne Frantz
A Certified Wine Educator, Marianne holds a Diploma in Wine & Spirits from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) of London, and has also earned the Advanced Sommelier qualification from the Court of Master Sommeliers. After successfully participating in an educational competition sponsored by the Wines of Australia in the spring of 2008, Marianne became an educational Ambassador for Wine Australia USA. She is also a Certified Spanish Wine Educator.