Restaurant: Twist by Pierre Gagnaire
Location: 3752 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109. 888.881.9367
Date: September 23, 2011
Cuisine: Avant Garde French
Rating: Brilliant, Confusing, Tasty, Orthogonal
Pierre Gagnaire is one of the elite crew of three-star Michelin chefs of a generation with Alain Ducasse and Joël Robuchon. And he’s the latest to venture forth into Las Vegas with an oddball new high end venture. Twist is mostly avant garde haute cuisine restaurant, with a little bit of a bent toward steakhouse? Maybe. Or at least he has a page of steaks and sides on the menu. I have to assume this is just Vegas pandering. We ignored it and went for a mega tasting.
Both the $7 million dollar build out (in the Mandarin Oriental) and the food itself is playful, intellectual, odd, and beautiful. Executive chef is of course, Pierre Gagnaire, with the onsite Chef de Cuisine being Pascal Sanchez.
In any case, the Foodie Club hit it with aplomb.
The distance cella of this culinary temple as seen from the approach.
The globes hanging above remind me of a non-magical Hogwarts cafeteria.
The bar. Notice the cracked egg wall decoration.
Echoed in the cover plates.
Tonights menu. We of course opted for the tasting. Seeing as six courses didn’t sound like enough (little did we know that most of the courses were in fact 3 or 4!) we threw in a foie gras supplement.
The wine list had some good offerings, but at the typical painful Vegas markups. We opted for a split of both the “classic” and “grand” wine pairings (depending on the person). One of our diners had a mostly vegetarian and fish menu, which the sommelier customized the classic pairing to.
So we open with a glass of classic champagne.
A series of amuses. Crispy lollipops filled with date purée and aged balsamic.
Chinese rice buns with carmelized onions, a bit of eel, and caviar.
Poquito pepper sauce. You just extract the little bread sticks and eat. Not so far off from a Spanish Romesco.
Gorgonzola and fig lollipops. Yum!
These were really good. Goat cheese and something. Sorry again!
Then to clear the palette, gelled anise. Like liqourish jello!
Overall, the amuses were very successful.
The bread was fantastic. From the crispy baguette (front left) to the amazing walnut raison bread in the back. The front right is a multigrain. Butter (not shown) was imported from Normandy.
A rose to go with the this first course.
These next three dishes together form the “twisted bouillabaisse.” This one is “Veloute of Cauliflower, ice cream of artichoke and olive oil.”
“Fish and saffron cocktail.” Red mullet, snapper, and sea bream rest in a gel of bouillabaisse! Had curious similarities to the bouillabaisse milkshake at Ludobites 7.0.
“Marmalade of red pepper, fennel confit and candied garlic.” This stands in for the traditional garlic toast.
Parker 90-91. “If Pascal Cotat’s 2009 Mont Damnes is not the place to look for sheer refreshment, that caution applies in spades to his 2009 Sancerre La Grande Cote, which pushes 15% alcohol and displays virtually inevitable finishing warmth as well as opulence. Musk melon, Persian melon, and passion fruit are wreathed in elder flower and narcissus. A sense of chalky underpinnings emerges on the wine’s silken, lushly-fruited palate. I would plan on enjoying this over the next 2-3 years and if I held any for longer would be vigilant.”
“Scallop & langoustine. scallops cerviche, mimosa langoustines, jerusalem artichokes gelée, celeriac & horseradish cream.” Like many of Twist’s dishes, very intellectual. The bottom is an artichoke gelée. The scallops like sashimi, but the real winner was the langoustine potato salad like stuff on top.
Yet another while to pair with this next dish.
“Kombawa Cod cake.”
“Bloody Mary Sorbet, ratatouille bavaroise.”
With a spinach sauce.
This series forms the “surf ‘n turf” motif. This is “fanny bay oyster, scented with coconut milk and seasoned ginger, sapporo foam.”
“Nabrasaka Prime Beef Carpaccio, florida clam salad, shaved foie gras.”
“Chestnut soup, razor clams, sauteed mushrooms, caramelized hazelnuts.”
The soup being added.
And in its final form. This was the most successful of the trio.
A very fine medium sweet 2009 Riesling.
“Tomato and fig tart.” Lovely buttery pastry.
This being a “californian duck foie gras trio.” “foie gras terrine, rum glazed, served on summer fruits chutney with banana tartlet.” Certainly an excellent expression of solid strait up foe.
“Shaved foie gras, black currant sorbet, mustard seasoning.”
“Foe Gras Parfait, toasted sesame, red port syrup and diced duck breast.” By far the best of the trio, this was pretty amazing.
Parker 91. This highly unusual Italian white tasted like cloves! “The 2007 Cervaro della Sala (Chardonnay, Grechetto) is an especially fat, juicy version of this wine, with generous ripe fruit and a soft-textured personality. The oak is still rather prominent and the wine needs at least another year of bottle age, although it will always remain a very ripe, opulent, yet beautifully balanced Cervaro. Anticipated maturity: 2009-2015.”
Alaskan halibut. Shown table-side before plating.
“Alaska Halibut. Grilled halibut, smoked in the cast-iron cocotte, chicory fondue, fennel and Orange.”
With a beure blanc sauce.
And finished. A nice dish. A slight charcoal smokey flavor to the fish and the interesting fennel, orange, butter pairings.
The sommelier/wine director (Julie Lin) preps a bottle.
The next wine.
The Intermezzo. “Sorbet of red wine-pear, onion cream with roquefort, grated yukon turnip scented with walnut oil.” This wasn’t an entirely successful pairing. I like roquefort but it came on very heavy handed against the refreshing red wine sorbet.
Working the crazy decanter.
A chardonnay for the loup de mer.
“Brittany Loup de mer. Slices of loup de mer a la meuniere with green pepper. Shiso leaves & oyster plant, sauce champs-elysee.” No small amount of fish here!
“Carmelized shallot agnolotti with grapefruit juice.”
Two reds. Sant’Antimo Summus is a French-oak aged blend of Sangiovese, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah. It is a rich, weighty wine with a soft-textured expression of fruit, excellent length and fine tannins.
A blend of 25% Garnacha, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 25% Merlot, 15% Carinena, and 10% Syrah and aged for 12 months in seasoned French and American oak. Dark ruby-colored, it has an attractive perfume of cedar, red and black currants, black cherry, spice box, and mineral. In a relatively lean style for Priorat, this medium to full-bodied wine has some elegance as well as good depth and length.
Don’t stab me with the decanter!
“Wisconsin veal crepinette. Tenderloin Crepinette, pumpkin & shallot Gratin and Osso-Bucco Jus.”
“Fritto-Miso of Zucchini & Eggplant, San Daniele Ham.”
A trio of sticky yummy dessert wines.
In the glass. The right most like a medium sherry. The middle slightly carbonated and sweet, the leftmost botrytis (moldy grapes).
“Plums, Caramelized Plums, red currant gelée, Brandy Ice cream.” Like brandied cherries and cream.
“Amelie, green tea opaline, lemongrass ganache, glace royale citron.” Fantastic!
“Apple Royale, Cinnamon Gala Apples, Green apple-lime Granite, Cinnamon syrup.” Tasted like apples and cinnamon. Refreshing.
“Biscuit Chocolate Rue Balzac, chocolate glaze, banana-lime coulis, mojito sorbet.”
“Roma, parmesan sable, ginger confit, mascarpone cream, fresh figs, pisachios.” Vaguely sicilian in vibe.
Petite fours. A fruit thing front. A little macaron middle, and a chocolate square with pistachio cream in the back (my favorite).
The shofar decanter.
I have to agree with my colleague Kevin (his review of twist here) when he says that this cuisine is “unconventional, surprising, jarring even, with some truly unique combinations of tastes, textures, temperatures, and ingredients.” There were some “out there” dishes here, and I was a bit at a loss as to how the entire meal, and even individual dishes, or pairings or trios of dishes, fit together. But many tasted great, and even the ones that were confusing were highly interesting. Not everything work perfectly, but yet at the same time didn’t seem to suffer from an inferior palette. This is highly intellectual food, best perhaps compared to avant garde art that you enjoy, but don’t quite understand.
Service and presentation was top top top notch here. Everyone was very accommodating and skilled. It’s rare in the states to get this level of service. The wine pairings were superlative and interesting.
For more Food Club extravaganzas.