Photo by Anthony Mair
Photo by Anthony Mair Lakeside Sampler
Photo by Anthony Mair Vegan carrot cake
Some critics find dining at Wynn Las Vegas overly corporate, but I’ve always felt that Mr. Wynn gives his chefs room to be creative. The hotel got a bad rap with serious foodies after closing its swankiest venue, Alex. A few chefs here are picking up the slack nicely, but locals tend to overlook certain Wynn venues. They are pricey, but here are two reasons why they’re worth it.
This restaurant in the Tower Suites has a new chef, native New Yorker Joseph Leibowitz, and a new look. Leibowitz toiled as a sous chef at Alex for six years before his promotion. A summery décor, newly upholstered chairs and fresh whites and yellows let in lots of ambient light.
Tableau serves breakfast and lunch, and you don’t need to be a Tower Suite guest to take advantage. The restaurant’s signature breakfast is duck hash and eggs, but it will soon be pulled from the menu. Too bad, because it might be my favorite breakfast dish in the city. It features Hickman Family Farms fresh eggs (note the orange yolks) and pieces of braised duck, accompanied by fingerling potatoes and tomato Hollandaise. Get it while you can.
Leibowitz’s white chocolate and orange French toast is almost too rich for words. The restaurant makes its own nut-laced granola and squeezes juices to order, the biggest surprise being fresh watermelon (though it’s not a regular offering).
Lunch is elegant, a showcase for the chef’s eye for color and sensitive palate. I often come just for his chicken noodle soup, using Mary’s Free Range Chicken, a product I buy at Whole Foods to roast at home, or his glorious roasted beet salad, which has the visual appeal of an expressionist still life.
The sea bass (or, sometimes, red snapper) with charred lemon and caviar crema, and served with a petite herb salad (chives, basil, celery leaf, parsley, tarragon), pull me back as well. Many dishes have light touches, making Tableau, in short, an ideal spot for the hot months.
In the obverse, there is Lakeside, which only opens for dinner. When DB Brasserie closed, Lakeside Grill replaced it, and chef David Walzog, who is also the chef at SW Steakhouse across the hall, seemed constantly to be tweaking, even redefining, this menu.
That’s still true. Now simply called Lakeside, the identity crisis persists. Lakeside is neither seafood restaurant nor steak house; rather, it feels like one of those supper clubs from the ’70s, but in this case, one in which the customers don’t know one another.
But thanks to Wynn designer Roger Thomas, this is still a stunning room with Carrara marble and leather with orange lacquer and white acrylic surfaces. The best tables face Wynn’s Lake of Dreams, where, after dark, a variety of interactive light shows take place.
Navigating the menu isn’t quite as easy as navigating the lake. It’s a confusing mélange of dishes that aren’t bound together by a specific theme, but the saving grace is that almost all of Walzog’s cooking has solid appeal.
The Lakeside Sampler is a trio of three Walzog starters: mouth-watering grilled octopus with white-bean salad and sherry vinegar, oyster Rockefeller and a Maryland crab cake from the chef’s native state. (No one in Las Vegas makes a flakier one.) Fresh oysters are as reliable here as they would be on the Eastern shore.
Carnivores have nothing to fear, though. This is no steak house, but there are the usual complements of prime steaks on the menu. But I prefer the mesquite-smoked prime rib, a 14-ounce piece that came to my table reddish-pink in the center, as requested, and exquisitely crusted on the edges.
Walzog’s grilled chipotle-marinated swordfish with chorizo and fennel really shows off the chef’s skill. So does a 1½-pound Maine lobster with red-chili rub, which balances sweetness and smoky bite in almost perfect harmony.
For dessert, pastry chef Kimberly Valdez does vegan carrot cake, a brilliant conceit with candied pineapple frosting, for dessert. The talent pool in this hotel is deep enough to drown in.