At so many of the fancy, expensive restaurants on the Vegas Strip, the tasting menu is the most choice experience, a way to let the talent in the kitchen do their thing, to experiment with food and educate you on what they think fine dining should be. Though it’s a pricey, time-consuming option, rarely will you be sorry you went all out. That’s what I was thinking when I was dipping between a trio of savory ice creams—honey carrot, mint with green pea, and bacon-artichoke—up on Mandarin Oriental’s 23rd floor.
I was also thinking: this bacon-artichoke ice cream is amazing.
Pierre Gagnaire usually swings through Las Vegas a couple times a year to help update the menu at Twist, his only restaurant in the United States. Twist actually overhauls the entire menu four times a year, all-new dishes to match all-new seasons. The new spring offerings, created in collaboration with chef de cuisine Ryuki Kawasaki, are as spring-y as it gets, spotlighting cool, crisp vegetable flavors with small streaks of contrasting richness. The ice cream dish is a great example; though it sounds like a sweet and savory dessert, it’s actually an opener. The football-shaped jewels of brightly colored, creamy creativity are accompanied by a swirl of foie gras veloute and snappy haricot vert. It’s one of the most unique dishes I’ve ever encountered.
Other highlights: shellfish marinere—a brisk, slightly salty foam over a variety of delicate sea treasures (and a parmesan-coated disc of cuttlefish) with a few pillowy black gnocchi, and veal tenderloin hidden under green curry-scented eggplant with a small dish of diced veal, sorrel and Paris ham. It’s as if the veal dish was the subtle version, and the additional savory meat cup is there to overwhelm, just for fun.
Speaking of overwhelming, the grand dessert does not take it easy. Gagnaire’s “RRRRaspberry” is a martini glass holding a tart sorbet and marmalade parfait with crisp shortbread languettes, and it’s part one of a five-part dessert. The others, from which it’s impossible to pick a favorite, are a tandoori apple with ice cream, chocolate ganache with pear veloute, vanilla meringue with Grand Marnier gel, and a rodolphe biscuit—a cookie with praline cream, coconut and caramelized hazelnuts.
The menu runs three courses for $120, four for $145 and a full seven for $205. For those looking to collect the finest dining experiences available in Las Vegas, Twist is a must-try, and spring is a great time to try it.