Most casinos house at least one casual restaurant or “coffee shop” that offers breakfast, lunch and dinner. The term “three-meal restaurants” never quite caught on with diners who often looked down upon these nondescript jacks-of-all-trades. When Steve Wynn, who has a long history of elevating casino dining, opened Encore, there was no way anyone could call the beautiful and whimsical Society Café a “coffee shop.” Wynn Resorts has once again redefined the three-meal concept with Jardin, which replaces Botero Steakhouse in the corridor connecting Wynn and Encore.
To helm the place, the resort tapped Joseph Zanelli, who has a pedigree in Las Vegas and beyond. He put in time at Spago in the Forum Shops at Caesars and Michael Mina’s Aqua in Bellagio before traveling to New York to work for Daniel Boulud. Upon his return to Las Vegas, he worked at the prestigious Mansion at MGM Grand, Lutèce in the Venetian and Lakeside in Wynn before heading to the suburbs to work at both Honey Salt and Andiron Steak & Sea. The guy’s chops are indisputable, and if anyone thought he’d deliver something as humble as a coffee shop, they clearly had another think coming.
I was far more impressed with the potato hash adorned with salty duck confit, kale, caramelized onions and a poached egg. The use of the duck added some originality to the breakfast classic.
Jardin is beautiful—bright, open and airy, with two outdoor patios, views of the Encore pools and a large skylight. Bright flowers decorate the room, which makes sense, since the restaurant’s name is French for garden. Bottles filled with boldly colored liquid grace a wall behind the bar and continue up to the ceiling, where they appear to defy gravity—a design feature held over from Botero.
The restaurant opens daily at 7 a.m., and its listed hours run through 11 p.m. on weeknights and midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. But in his attempt to capture the pre-club crowd, Zanelli tells me he may experiment with some later hours.
The menu is remarkably diverse, not only based on the time of day you dine there, but also within each meal period. When I visited for breakfast with my family recently, the more conservative diners found plenty of dishes that fit their tastes. One aunt had a simple order of eggs over easy with beautifully runny yolks and a side of fat, tasty chicken and apple sausage. Dad’s omelet was basic and satisfying, as was Mom’s smoothie and sweet monkey bread. But I was far more impressed with the potato hash adorned with salty duck confit, kale, caramelized onions and a poached egg. The use of the duck added some originality to the breakfast classic, which I greedily sopped up with the accompanying slices of Italian bread. Another wonderful twist came from an order of pancakes flavored with lemon curd, ricotta cheese and fresh blueberries.
I’ve yet to try the extensive lunch and brunch options, which include a large selection of sandwiches such as crispy buttermilk chicken with mustard slaw, a Cubano and both turkey and pork belly burgers, as well as yellowtail tartare and assorted flatbreads. But the small “socializing” dishes available during dinner hours have all been excellent.
Chief among the latter is the chef’s so-called Bacon & Eggs. It’s actually an order of Kurobuta pork belly with quail eggs over kimchi fried rice. While the pork and eggs aren’t themselves an original idea, I have to give the chef credit for not pulling any punches on the spicy kimchi in the rice, which is delicious. I’ve also enjoyed chicken meatballs with shavings of sharp Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese and a dollop of ricotta as well as a hearty bowl of white bean soup.
All of this only scratches the surface of the menu. There’s also a selection of formal dinner entrées, and a prix fixe tasting menu. Those who choose to dine here during the Super Bowl on February 7 can enjoy an all-you-can-eat tailgate menu. And in keeping with Wynn and Encore’s inclusiveness policy, additional menus highlight dishes for those with various food allergies or preferences.
Although still budding, Jardin already brings the three-meal restaurant to a new level of quality and variety. In fact, I could eat all three meals there in a single day, without the bloom coming off the rose.
Al’s Menu Picks
- Duck confit hash ($19), lemon and ricotta pancakes ($17)
- and Bacon & Eggs ($16).
- Dinner for two, $60-$150.
Wynn, 702-770-3463, WynnLasVegas.com. Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 a.m.-11 p.m. Sun-Thu, 7 a.m.-midnight Fri-Sat.