Sage


Aria (last visit: September 2011).
Contemporary American.


When CityCenter opened, a host of new restaurant choices appeared: French, Japanese, Spanish, seafood, steak. Sage is the American representative.



The Menu
The small menu offers a mix of the usual suspects (steak, chicken, fish) and the not so usual (foie gras custard brûlée, veal cheeks). A tasting menu is also available; over the years, it's gone from six courses down to four. Those sitting in the lounge or at the bar may order from the full menu, or choose from a menu of small bites. Want to try a different kind of alcoholic spirit? Absinthe is available.



The Atmosphere
There's something about the place that's subdued. The room is large, with a high ceiling. Tables are simple affairs in black lacquer, with black place mats and black wood chairs; the floor is also black. Carpeting and upholstery provide a touch of color. Moderate music plays in the background.

Service was smiling and efficient, but not very personal. Everyone was moving very quickly - getting their job done, but not interacting with the diners very much. The most personable service was from the combination busboy/water boy/bread server!

I've sat at a table, and at the bar. Both seem good choices for a solo diner.



My First Meal
I went whole hog: the seven course tasting menu:
Seared bluefin tuna sashimi with anchovy and soft boiled quail egg. This fairly mild dish was good enough, but there was nothing "wow!" about it. Call it a good start.
Foie gras
brûlée. A signature dish, this is a custard made with foie gras, topped with a caramelized sugar glaze. On the side is toasted and buttered brioche. It's very good, but overwhelmingly rich; by the end, I didn't like it so much. This is an appetizer best shared between two or more people.
Gnocchi with crab, cheese, white asparagus and peas. The gnocchi were delicate; accompanying them was a rich cream sauce. Pretty good stuff.
Scallop, shrimp, Iberico ham and oxtail risotto. The risotto was odd: not creamy at all, with rice grains that were still very firm. It was my least favorite dish of the evening.
New York steak with fried baby artichoke. It's just steak - but it's a very good steak. Four slices, charred on the outside, served medium rare.
Canelés de Bordeaux. This received at least one rave review, but I can't agree. It was just OK.


Later Meals
Roasted sweetbreads. Delicious! They were crisp on the outside, creamy on the inside. Some bitter green was a good foil.
Maine day boat scallops. Served with braised oxtail and mushrooms, this was one of my favorite dishes at Sage.

Absinthe (St. George Verte). I had never tried absinthe before, so I went for the traditional preparation. My verdict: interesting; strong; worth trying once, but I don't think I have it again.


Summary
Based on others' rave recommendations, my expectations were sky high. Perhaps inevitably, I was a little disappointed after my first visit. However, Sage is certainly a very good restaurant, with reasonable prices. It's worth a return visit.


The Bill
My tasting menu meal cost about $100. A simpler meal (appetizer and entrée) cost $60. To these prices add drinks, tax and tip


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