What is Rose.Rabbit.Lie.? The Cosmopolitan’s newest venue has been cloaked in secrecy for months. On December 30, however, the restaurant had its soft opening, finally giving the public a glimpse inside its unmarked doors. (And there are certainly a lot of doors.)
Rose.Rabbit.Lie. tries to be a modern, bohemian reinvention of a social club. It’s a maze of interconnected rooms and concepts which spill into each other. In the performance area, three ticketed cantos (brought to you by the same team that produces Absinthe) are performed nightly under the title Vegas Nocturne, one with more traditional theater seating, another in a dinner theater context and a third, abbreviated late-night version that rolls into the nightlife portion of the evening.
There’s a cocktail lounge that doubles as a backstage staging area for performers. The formal dining room, called the Library, sits adjacent to the Study, a small bar and lounge. Even if you don’t buy a show ticket, you’ll probably come in contact with the performers, who wander throughout the venue plying their various trades. (Leave the kids at home, because this is a 21-and-older venue.)
But I’ll leave it to theater experts to critique the show, and simply concentrate on dining.
As someone who enjoys eating at the bar, I’m perfectly happy to grab a light snack in the casual Study. But if you want a full meal, call ahead to reserve a table in the Library. There, you’ll encounter a musician providing music for the showroom on a glass armonica (an obscure instrument invented by Ben Franklin) perched between tables. And the glass fire place embossed with Hieronymus Bosch’s erotic masterpiece “Garden of Earthly Delights” is stunning. Non-matching vintage china and intricately engraved cutlery complete the vibe.
The same folded three-page menu is offered in both rooms, printed on elegant parchment, and is affixed with the club’s wax seal. It consists mostly of small, shareable plates, many of which are modern interpretations of classic dishes. (The kitchen is helmed by chef Wesley Holton, who spent three years as executive chef at Wynn’s DB Brasserie, before spending some time cooking in Atlantic City.) You’ll find sweetbreads with licorice and root beer jus and delicious deconstructed oysters Rockefeller.
The prices on the first two pages are deceptively reasonable—although small portion sizes make it easy to run up a large bill. If you really want to splurge, however, try the $1,200 whole roasted King crab stuffed with lobsters, or the $275 crown of lamb with cous cous. There’s also a caviar section, with portions ranging from a single ounce to massive kilos that will set you back between $2,000 and $5,000.
If you want to sample caviar without spending that kind of dough, try the caviar and hamachi mini-tacos on a Yukon potato shell, one of the best dishes on the menu. The Heavenly Eggs (egg custard with truffle served in their shells) are small but delicious, as is the tiny helping of rabbit fricassee, a fairly simple preparation so good I could easily eat a quart.
Among the larger items on the menu, the sea urchin with king crab and umami butter and the loup de mer en croute are particularly good. Of the two pork dishes I’ve tried, the braised version in a bowl of “polenta air” with black truffles is rich and intriguing. But I prefer the tête de cochon: a small, slightly spicy patty of facial meat topped with a slow-poached egg.
Rose.Rabbit.Lie. is serving up creative, almost-perfectly executed cuisine in a unique, fun setting. The service during the soft-opening was slow at times. But an experience with this many moving pieces is going to take awhile to get up to speed. I’m definitely willing to give them that time.
In the Cosmopolitan, 877-667-0585. Open for dinner 6 p.m.-close, Thu-Sun. Dinner for two $100-$200.