We are in Bagatelle Restaurant & Supper Club, the luxurious new supper club/nightclub/destination brunch hot spot opened last month in the Tropicana by the OneGroup, and there isn’t a single other table occupied at the start of dinner service on a Wednesday evening. The club is a major investment for the group that brought us STK at the Cosmo—$6 million, rumor has it—and it certainly looks the part. But no one looks worried. I’m told the club, which has to be a good 200 feet across, was jam-packed on a recent Saturday night.
Looking around this sprawling and extremely white space, you’re bound to be impressed. A giant crystal chandelier, the room’s centerpiece, must have cost a fortune, and there are well over a dozen other chandeliers scattered throughout the three-tiered dining room. The entrance is rather grand as well: You approach the restaurant by walking down a long corridor fronted by a podium where you’ll be welcomed by a pair of comely hostesses. The first thing you see is a giant screen, awash in ever-changing videos. Then you turn a corner into the club area, which made me gasp at the sheer vastness.
Tables are draped in elegant white cloths; framed head shots of movie stars such as Paul Newman, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe grace the walls; and large-format bottles of boutique wines and champagnes sit fetchingly, if not suggestively, on the sideboards. Beyond the rear doors is an even larger space outside, Bagatelle Beach. A mere trifle—which is roughly what the word bagatelle means—this place ain’t.
My two meals here had very different vibes. The first experience was a dinner at 6:30 p.m., early by Strip standards, granted, but still shocking, when one considers that this place seats nearly 300 guests. We were ensconced in a booth on the upper dining level, gazing down at the empty lower dining tiers to the central dance floor, and felt like survivors after a natural disaster.
When we returned for the vaunted brunch—Bagatelle’s signature event—the room was alive, thanks in part to a dozen “snow bunnies,” cocktail servers prancing about the room. On that occasion, at least a dozen tables were occupied, while a DJ spun music—the sort you’d hear at a Cirque de Soleil performance—that was bizarre to these ears.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. This club started in a French-speaking country, St. Barth, before spreading to New York, São Paulo and, soon, Miami. So the food is slightly French, as well, prepared by chef John Zamarchi, who has plenty of talent.
I thoroughly enjoyed my meals here. At dinner, I was fond of Salade Bagatelle, a glass bowl filled with butter lettuce (which I much prefer to iceberg), dressed with a très French mustard-laced-vinaigrette sprinkled with herbs and cheese. A workmanlike tuna tartare came in the form of a tian, i.e., in a molded circle, on top of some chopped avocado.
As a mid-course, we had the truffle gnocchi a la Parisienne—soft, melty pasta pillows in a black-truffle sauce that for once didn’t reek of artificial truffle oil. Truffled chicken has to be the star entrée: a whole roasted organic chicken for two in a wonderfully rich sauce, plated with country-style potatoes and mushrooms. We also tried grilled wild salmon with a perfectly acceptable hollandaise.
The menu is looser at brunch, although the entrées are available. I had the house sangria, and was surprised to discover blueberries in it. If raspberry Nutella French toast sounds extravagant, that’s because it is. I defy anyone to eat it all. My wife had a classic steak au poivre, served with herbed frites. Neither of us was in a mood for the vaunted Bagatelle Sundae, made with six scoops of Häagen-Dazs and an array of syrups and fruit.
I don’t know how they plan to fill this massive room, but the staff is optimistic. General manager Roy Saunders is something of a Vegas fixture, and the servers are enthusiastic, if overly aggressive about upselling at times. And watch out for those snow bunnies.