Bellagio (last visit: September 2004).
Not so long ago, Picasso was frequently cited as one of the best, if not the best, restaurant in Las Vegas. It has since been surpassed, but remains a delight. The worst of my courses was good, and two of the courses (roasted foie gras steak; warm chocolate fondant with peanut brittle ice cream) were excellent. It's not just that each course is so good; each of the components of a course is good. Add in the paintings, beautiful floral displays, and the Bellagio fountains, and you've got a winner.
The menu is fixed price, offering either a four or five course meal. Wine pairs are available.
The space is beautiful, with Picasso's (what else) gracing the walls. Huge floral displays add to the beauty. Lastly, there's a view of the Bellagio fountains. Service is efficient and friendly, and the wine steward does a great job of explaining each wine.
We started out with olive bread (very good) and an amuse bouche of smoked salmon with Osetra caviar, finely diced cucumber, all on some sort of thin baked cracker - also very good.
I got the menu degustation plus a wine pairing - 2 and 1/2 ounces of four wines, one for each course except dessert. I had:
(1) Jonah Crab Salad (very good): a small amount of fine bits of crab in a very light vinaigrette.
(2) Diver scallop (very good to excellent): a single large sauteed scallop sitting in a pool of potato mousseline and another sauce.
(3) Roasted foie gras steak. This was superb! The best I've had. Slightly crisp, super flavorful, melt in your mouth.
(4) Turbot with mushroom duxelles - excellent. The fish was flavorful and moist. The mushroom duxelles were also delicious.
(5) Warm chocolate fondant with peanut brittle ice cream. The ice cream was excellent. The fondant - a thin, crispy, small cupcake filled with semi-liquid chocolate. Both the cupcake and the filling had wonderfully rich, intense, dark chocolate. This was to die for - perhaps the best dessert I've ever had.
(6) The meal ended with a few small cookies.
When I ate here, this was the best meal I had eaten in Las Vegas. I've since eaten a few better meals, but Picasso remains near the top. It offers a winning combination of food, atmosphere and service, at a price which no longer seems so extravagant when compared to some of the newer restaurants in town.
The menu is fixed price: either $85 or $95 for the meal. Add in wine pairings (which I'd recommend) and tip, and it will cost about $150 - 175 per person.
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