Saturday, December 05, 2009

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire (Las Vegas, NV)

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire
3752 Las Vegas Blvd S, Las Vegas, NV 89109
Sat 12/05/2009, 09:00p-01:45a

I mentioned a few weeks back that Bouchon Beverly Hills was the most widely-anticipated opening of the year in Los Angeles. Well, Twist Las Vegas might be the most widely-anticipated opening of the year in the country. Twist by Pierre Gagnaire is, of course, the only place in the US where one can experience the cuisine of the iconoclastic chef, and despite having a constellation of seven other restaurants, Gaganire has trailed his contemporaries--Alain Ducasse, Joël Robuchon, Guy Savoy--in establishing an outpost here in the desert, bringing the heart of Rue Balzac to the glitz and glamour of The Strip. Gagnaire's cookery has been described as experimental, whimsical, inspirational, unpredictable even, a study in going just over the edge of what's acceptable. Upon hearing that the Chef was to open in Las Vegas, how could I not put my name down for a reservation, opening night, of course? Joining me were Eric, Holly of The Michelin Project, Minh, Ryan of Only Eat What Feeds Your Soul, Will of FoodDigger.

A brief biography of Chef Gagnaire: he was born April 9, 1950 in the Apinac commune of the Loire department of France. The oldest of four children, Gagnaire had little choice but become a chef, given that his father Jean-Claude ran the restaurant Le Clos Fleuri in Saint-Priest-en-Jarez. In 1965, at age 14, he started as a pastry apprentice at Chez Juliette in Rhône-Alpes. Then, in 1968, Gagnaire spent a summer working for the legendary Paul Bocuse. Later, he obtained a commis position at Tante Alice in Lyon, and in 1969, became a roast cook (rôtisseur) at Charbonnières les Bains. Gagnaire's next step, military service in 1970, would take him to the French Navy, where he was cuisinier admiral on the Surcouf D621, a T 47 class destroyer. Following, in 1973 at the age of 23, Gagnaire entered the kitchens at the Intercontinental Hotel in Paris, where he was a commis. Lucas Carton beckoned in 1974, and the chef spent a brief time there before traveling for two years, learning all that he could from the new world.

In 1976, he returned to Saint-Étienne to run his father's Clos Fleuri, and maintained its macaron Michelin the next year. The time spent here was not pleasant, however, as the Chef struggled to cook what he wanted under the shadow of his father. The restaurant shuttered once Jean-Claude retired, but interestingly, it appears that it's still around. Gagnaire started his own restaurant on St.-Étienne's rue Georges Teyssier in 1981. Named Aux Passementiers, it quickly garnered a Michelin star, as well as an 18/20 rating in the Gault Millau in 1984. The second étoile Michelin came in 1986, but the restaurant was soon replaced by Restaurant Pierre Gagnaire on rue de la Richelandière. Three stars came in 1992, as did a Gault Millau rating of 19.5/20, but the restaurant struggled financially and fell into bankruptcy in 1995. As to the cause of the failure, "Gagnaire blamed Michelin, whose standards had forced him to borrow millions to buy and restore a spectacular Art Deco house in Saint-Étienne," wrote Jeffrey Steingarten in The Man Who Ate Everything.

In April 1996, the Japanese cult cooking program Iron Chef aired a "France Special" featuring Gagnaire, who fought Iron Chef French Hiroyuki Sakai in an homard lobster battle. After triumphing over the Iron Chef, Gagnaire seemed rejuvenated, intent on putting his bankruptcy behind him and starting anew. And that he did. Later that year, Gagnaire bounced back in a big way, debuting his eponymous eatery in the Hotel Balzac on Paris' Champs-Elysées. Two Michelin rosettes arrived in 1997, while another made its way the following year. At this point, Gagnaire had cemented his place in the culinary world, and in 2001, he began collaborating with physical chemist Hervé This, one of the progenitors of molecular gastronomy, in the process adding various avant garde and intellectual flourishes to his style.

It was also around this time that Gagnaire started to build his empire. The first expansion came in 2002, when the Chef partnered with restaurateur Mourad Mazouz to open Sketch in London. As an aside, it was at Sketch where Gagnaire would meet his current wife, Sylvie Le Bihan, who was a customer (à la Ludo). The two married on Bastille Day in 2007 and currently reside with Sylvie’s three children in Paris, near the Bois de Boulogne. The Chef also has two grown children from his first marriage (which ended in 2005), and his first wife, Chantal, is still involved with the restaurants. Getting back, Gagnaire then ventured to the low-end, taking over Gaya Rive Gauche bistro in Paris and turning it into Gaya par Pierre Gagnaire in 2004. Asia was next, with Pierre Gagnaire à Tokyo in 2005, Pierre à Hong Kong in 2006 (also at the Mandarin Oriental), and finally Reflets Par Pierre Gagnaire Dubai and Pierre Gagnaire à Seoul in 2008.

This brings us to the present, to Twist by Pierre Gagnaire, a $7 million restaurant on the 23rd floor Sky Lobby of the Mandarin Oriental hotel in the $8.5 billion CityCenter development. The place had been in work for three years, but unlike most of Gagnaire's other satellite operations, Twist will not be a true "gastronomic" restaurant, nor a bistro like Gaya either. Instead, it will be somewhere in the middle, but also something that's intended to be uniquely American in character. Gagnaire is, of course, a pioneer in French fusion cuisine, a master of weaving together seemingly disparate tastes and textures, and at Twist, as with his other restaurants, diners will be presented with familiar French flavors, done up with a "twist" of genius by the Chef. And though Gagnaire will be here for the first few weeks after opening, he will eventually yield control over to his Chef de Cuisine Pascal Sanchez, who previously headed the kitchens over at Sketch.

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Interior
Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Interior
Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Interior
As for the physical space, awash in subtle tones of silver and gray, it is the handiwork of the ubiquitous Adam Tihany, who also designed the rooms and public spaces. Twist seats 72 and offers guests a stunning view of the Vegas skyline through 20-foot windows, accented by 300 suspended, shining spheres and a "floating" wine loft.

Pierre Gagnaire
While waiting at the bar for the rest of the party to arrive, Chef Gagnaire happened to walk by, and we grabbed him for a quick photo opp. We also presented him with a gift from Ludovic Lefebvre, a signed copy of his cookbook Crave: The Feast of the Five Senses. Ludo, at one point in his career, worked under Gagnaire, who encouraged him to experiment with unconventional taste, texture, and ingredient combinations, a facet that would greatly influence Ludo's own burgeoning style. Ludo had wanted to visit Twist on opening night, but was tied up with other obligations.

I also ran into Bobby and Stephanie from Gourmands Review. I previously met them at Bouchon, where I mentioned that they should make the trip out to Vegas for Twist's grand opening (lo and behold, they took my advice!).

Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Menu Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Menu Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Menu
Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Menu Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Menu Twist by Pierre Gagnaire Menu
As it stands now, the menu consists of a six-course tasting menu for $160, backed up by a number of à la carte selections; click for larger versions. We, naturally, went for the tasting, with supplementary courses consisting of two orders of each appetizer. Expect the menu to evolve as Gagnaire and company better discern the American palate.

Bread & Butter
A trio of bread was on offer, served with seaweed butter and a fantastic cow's milk unsalted butter from the Isigny AOC in Normandy. From top to bottom, we have a wheat molasses with raisin and walnut, a country rye, and a French ciabatta. All were quite delectable.

Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier
There is no set wine pairing offered, and given that we had a party of six, we decided to go with a few bottles, chosen by Wine Director-slash-Sommelier Julie Lin (formerly of RM Seafood and Rao's). The only constraints were that the selections would be capped at $500, and that there would be Champagne to begin. With that in mind, we started with the Louis Roederer Champagne Brut Premier [$150]. It was a fairly prototypical Champagne, showing lovely fruity notes of citrus and stone fruit, with a nice counterbalancing minerality and great acidity.

Irish Gelée Perfumed with Guinness and Jack Daniels
Canapé 1: Irish Gelée Perfumed with Guinness and Jack Daniels
Our first bites consisted of cuboids of gelée, imbued with a distinct alcoholic essence. Interesting.

Salad of Cuttlefish, Haricot Vert, Red Bell Pepper, Celeriac
Canapé 2: Salad of Cuttlefish, Haricot Vert, Red Bell Pepper, Celeriac
This next canapé was also my favorite, with the base of cuttlefish forming a platform on which the various veggies could really sing. A perfect amalgam of light, bright flavors.

Yukon Gold Potato Chip, Smoked Sardine, Golden Raisin
Canapé 3: Yukon Gold Potato Chip, Smoked Sardine, Golden Raisin
Next, we have a your basic potato chip, topped with smoked sardine. The depth of flavor was profound here, with the intense smack of sardine only mildly tempered by the sweet raisins and earthy potato.

Flax Seed Garlic Cracker, Bluefin Chantilly
Canapé 4: Flax Seed Garlic Cracker, Bluefin Chantilly
Also superb were these spears of savory, slightly spicy flax seed and garlic crackers. They were delicious on their own, but even better when paired with the creamy, smoky, salty, subtly fishy Chantilly.

Pecorino Soufflé, Spinach Velouté
Canapé 5: Pecorino Soufflé, Spinach Velouté
A simple, savory, cheesy, buttery bite, accented by a tinge of spinach. Ryan likened this to a Cheez-It cracker!

Toasted Almond Sablé
Canapé 6: Toasted Almond Sablé
Some cute rabbit-eared butter cookies, with a lovely accent of almond.

2008 The Terraces Chardonnay
Next, Lin chose the 2008 The Terraces Chardonnay [$85], a light, mineral-driven, subtly fruity Chard with a crisp, focused, refreshing acidity. Very nice, considering I'm not usually a fan of California Chardonnay.

Squab Breast, Foie Gras, Black Olive Gelée
Sake-Apple Marmalade, Pomegranate Seeds

The complexity of this dish really set the tone for the evening. I first tried each of the three main elements alone: the scallop was nicely caramelized, with a firm yet supple texture; the squab, meanwhile, was very savory, very apparent; finally, the foie gras possessed a pure, unmitigated essence of liver that was quite enchanting. Mixing things up a bit, I really appreciated the interplay between the scallop and the sweet marmalade, and the relationship between the luxurious foie and the bitter greens was fantastic.

SANTA BARBARA SPINY LOBSTER: Liebig and Champagne, Mushroom, Mango, Spring Onion, Cauliflower Velouté, Nutmeg-Turmeric SANTA BARBARA SPINY LOBSTER: Capellini, Green Pepper, Celeriac
Liebig and Champagne, Mushroom, Mango, Spring Onion
Capellini, Green Pepper, Celeriac
Cauliflower Velouté, Nutmeg-Turmeric

Here we have beautifully cooked lobster, with a crisp, snappy body highlighting a delightfully sweet sapor. It was paired with a sauce that was undeniably complex, with simultaneously sweet, herbal, spicy, earthy, tangy, and bitter flavors in an intriguing, indescribable commixture. I also enjoyed the use of capellini noodles, lightened up by the application of green pepper.

SCALLOP AND MELANO SPORUM TRUFFLE: Carpaccio, Chestnut and Artichoke, Truffled Vinaigrette
SCALLOP AND MELANO SPORUM TRUFFLE: Pascaline, Green Asparagus, Parmesan Mousse SCALLOP AND MELANO SPORUM TRUFFLE: Roasted Scallop on top of Truffled Biscotte
Carpaccio, Chestnut and Artichoke, Truffled Vinaigrette
Pascaline, Green Asparagus, Parmesan Mousse
Roasted Scallop on top of Truffled Biscotte

A recurring theme throughout the night, Gagnaire's appetizers would utilize multiple plates, with seemingly incongruous flavors on each: First, I loved the tangy artichoke here, set off by the weighty truffle vinaigrette, but the key for me was the interaction between the piquant vegetable and the smooth, creamy, delicate scallop. Next, the asparagus was perfectly cooked, and its pungency was accented wonderfully by the rich, creamy Parmesan. Finally, we have easily one of the most approachable items of the night. The pairing of mild, subtly briny scallop with the earthy decadence of truffle is a classic, but immensely effective, pairing.

KING SEA BREAM: Tartelette, Libanese Taboulé
KING SEA BREAM: Snow Crab, Aoyama Sauce KING SEA BREAM: Bonito-Shellfish Gelée, Mozzarella Ice Cream
Supplement: KING SEA BREAM [$20.00]
Tartelette, Libanese Taboulé
Snow Crab, Aoyama Sauce
Bonito-Shellfish Gelée, Mozzarella Ice Cream

I really enjoyed the sea bream, with its wonderful, tender texture and supremely delicate flavor; it was absolutely fantastic with the tangy vegetables in the tabouleh. The "cookie" underneath, meanwhile, added a palpable weight and textural contrast into the mix. As good as the sea bream was, the king crab "salad" was even better, refreshingly replete with sweet chunks of crab, dressed in a soy-, dashi-, and mirin-based sauce. I did get some linkage between the crab and the super savory bonito-shellfish gelée, but I didn't quite get the rationale behind the gelée's presence.

JOHN DORY FILLET: Poached in Malabar Black Pepper-Citrus Butter, Cannelloni Beans, Marin Velouté JOHN DORY FILLET: Crunchy Sauce
Poached in Malabar Black Pepper-Citrus Butter
Cannelloni Beans, Marin Velouté, Crunchy Sauce

This was probably the best John Dory I've ever had. It possessed a nicely firm consistency paired with an unabashedly savory flavor, with just the slightest peppery tinge. As delicious as the fish was, its accoutrements really made the dish for me. The use of clams provided a fantastic chew and a beautiful brininess, while the beans added a superb earthiness and gravity. At this point, the dish was complete for me. I didn't quite understand the "crunchy sauce," which was a grapefruit and tomato sauce with an almost salsa-like savor, topped with a crunchy cover that we were instructed to break and mix into the amalgamation.

2008 Leth Grüner Veltliner Lagenreserve Steinagrund Wagram
For our continuing gauntlet of seafood, we were provided the 2008 Leth Grüner Veltliner Lagenreserve Steinagrund Wagram [$75]. GVs generally sit well with me, and this was no exception, showing tart citrus notes balanced by a superb mineral flair. Quite good.

MUSHROOM BROTH 'ZEZETTE': Chicken Chiffonade, Vegetable Gnocchi MUSHROOM BROTH 'ZEZETTE': Chicken Chiffonade, Vegetable Gnocchi
MUSHROOM BROTH 'ZEZETTE': Kombawa Cod Cake MUSHROOM BROTH 'ZEZETTE': Bloody Mary Sorbet, Ratatouille Bavaroise
Supplement: MUSHROOM BROTH "ZEZETTE" [$16.00]
Chicken Chiffonade, Vegetable Gnocchi
Kombawa Cod Cake
Bloody Mary Sorbet, Ratatouille Bavaroise

Here we have one of my favorite courses of the night. The chicken chiffonade (strips) were perfectly cooked, and went beautifully with the broth, with the entire commixture being slightly reminiscent of Thai green curry. The three types of gnocchi, meanwhile, added texture and weight. This elevated chicken to another level for me. The cod cake was just as good as the bird, with its crispy exterior hiding a wonderfully sweet, savory, juicy interior. Finally, we have gorgeous, creamy, refreshing sorbet, perked up beautifully by the ratatouille vegetables. All three elements here were simply fantastic, but taking everything together in one bite was even more so.

SHELLFISH ROYALE: Toasted Beef Gelée, Oyster Cocktail with Shallots, Smoked Red Beet Purée SHELLFISH ROYALE: Country Bread and Comté
SHELLFISH ROYALE: Marinated Clams, Whelks, Razor Clams, 'Lee' Baby Spinach SHELLFISH ROYALE: Country Bread and Comté
Supplement: SHELLFISH ROYALE [$18.00]
Toasted Beef Gelée, Oyster Cocktail with Shallots
Smoked Red Beet Purée, Country Bread and Comté
Marinated Clams, Whelks, Razor Clams, "Lee" Baby Spinach

Next was Gagnaire's "royale," which is traditionally a layered dish. We had some beautiful oysters, appropriately briny alone, but wonderfully sandwiched between the contrasting flavors of the sweet beet and bitter popcorn greens (microgreens from actual germinated popcorn!)--they really set off the mollusks perfectly. The toasted bread, served with Comté cheese and red cabbage, seemed a bit incongruous at first, but its gravity actually complemented by the oysters nicely. Finally, we have my favorite component here, a "seafood salad" of sorts, with three types of shellfish tossed with spinach. It demonstrated the profoundly pure, deeply briny quintessence of the sea. Holly even mentioned that it was like eating a "tidepool," which of course made me think of "Autumn Tidal Pool" dish at Manresa.

SONOMA VALLEY FOIE GRAS DÉGUSTATION: Terrine, Dried Figs, Toasted Ginger Bread SONOMA VALLEY FOIE GRAS DÉGUSTATION: Custard, Green Lentils, Grilled Zucchini
SONOMA VALLEY FOIE GRAS DÉGUSTATION: Seared, Sweet and Sour Duck Glaze, Fruit Marmalade SONOMA VALLEY FOIE GRAS DÉGUSTATION: Gâteau, Trevicchio Purée, Pickled Red Onions
Terrine, Dried Figs, Toasted Ginger Bread
Custard, Green Lentils, Grilled Zucchini
Seared, Sweet and Sour Duck Glaze, Fruit Marmalade
Gâteau, Trevicchio Purée, Pickled Red Onions

One of the courses that we were most excited about was this quartet of foie gras. We started off with the terrine, which was fairly prototypical, with the essence of foie gras accented by the sweetness of fig; the interesting point here was the slight spice of ginger. I really enjoyed the second preparation, which consisted of a very delicate--ethereal almost--foie gras custard. Given its considerable lightness, the gravitas provided by the lentils was simply superb, while the zucchini added some textural variation. Third was a seared preparation, which was surprisingly to my tastes, with the unctuous character of the liver on the attack, along with a bit of sweetness on the finish. They saved the best for last apparently, as this foie gras "cake" was simply one of the strongest preparations of foie I've ever had. The interplay between the subtly sweet red onions and bitter greens was magical.

LANGOUSTINE FIVE WAYS: Seared, Iberico Ham, Bell Pepper
LANGOUSTINE FIVE WAYS: Grilled with TTB Sauce, Avocado LANGOUSTINE FIVE WAYS: Mousseline Perfumed with Sherry Manzanilla
LANGOUSTINE FIVE WAYS: Gelée with Kombu Seaweed Seasoned with Lobster Coral LANGOUSTINE FIVE WAYS: Tartar, Campari Turnip, Baby Greens
Seared, Iberico Ham, Bell Pepper
Grilled with TTB Sauce, Avocado
Mousseline Perfumed with Sherry Manzanilla
Gelée with Kombu Seaweed Seasoned with Lobster Coral
Tartar, Campari Turnip, Baby Greens

The quintet of langoustine is one of Gagnaire's signature dishes. We were instructed to eat the five plates in the order above. First was a seared tail of langoustine. It had a great, toothsome consistency and was beautifully accented by the salty ham, while the pepper left a fascinatingly hot finish. Next was a lightly grilled version, with a wonderfully light texture and delicate flavor; it went well with the creamy avocado. Then we had the mousseline, nicely textured with a lovely zesty counter from the Manzanilla. My favorite out of the five was the gelée; made with lobster innards, it represented the absolute quintessence of langoustine. We finished with the tartar, which was light with a distinctive citrusy tang, marvelously set off by the sweetness of pomegranate.

CUCUMBER, TOMATO AND PINEAPPLE: Kirsch Brandy, Rhubarb Mousse, Grapefruit Granité
Kirsch Brandy, Rhubarb Mousse, Grapefruit Granité
Next, before our main savory course, we were presented with a palate cleanser, a concoction of sous vide vegetables, sweet with a slight bitterness, finishing with the weight of the kirsch.

2006 Ca' Marcanda (Gaja) Promis Toscana IGT
Our final wine, and the only red, was the 2006 Ca' Marcanda (Gaja) Promis Toscana IGT [$165]. As expected from this Italian blend (55% Merlot / 35% Syrah / 10% Sangiovese), I noted a pleasantly tart tannic character, with plenty of dark berry flavor balanced by earthy, herbal elements.

LOIN OF VENISON: Red Cabbage-Black Currant Jam, Tamy Potato
LOIN OF VENISON: Pear-Celery Gratin LOIN OF VENISON: 'Grand Veneur' Quenelle
Red Cabbage-Black Currant Jam, Tamy Potato
Pear-Celery Gratin, "Grand Veneur" Quenelle

For our "main course," we were treated to a filet of oven roasted venison treated with thyme and juniper, with a red currant and red wine sauce. Though the meat wasn't distinctly venison-like, it was still absolutely delectable, with the meat showing a lovely, tender body flavored with a perfect combination of seasonings. The meat easily stood on its own, so I didn't feel that the gratin and quenelle (a huntsman's sauce, basically a pepper sauce augmented with game essence) were necessary.

GRAND DESSERT PIERRE GAGNAIRE: Nelson Sablé, Meringue, Citrus Sorbet
GRAND DESSERT PIERRE GAGNAIRE: Quince Gelée, Bavaroise, Chartreuse Parfait GRAND DESSERT PIERRE GAGNAIRE: Fruit Biscuit, Seasonal Coulis
GRAND DESSERT PIERRE GAGNAIRE: Cachaça Granité, Cucumber Marmalade, Green Apple GRAND DESSERT PIERRE GAGNAIRE: Ganache, Ginger, Chocolate Ice Cream
Nelson Sablé, Meringue, Citrus Sorbet
Quince Gelée, Bavaroise, Chartreuse Parfait
Fruit Biscuit, Seasonal Coulis
Cachaça Granité, Cucumber Marmalade, Green Apple
Ganache, Ginger, Chocolate Ice Cream

As with the savory courses, dessert with Pierre Gagnaire is never a simply affair, consisting of five distinct sweets inspired by traditional French pastries. First up was a sablé cookie, accented by a subtle citrus meringue and a bracingly cold, sour citrus sorbet; I loved the chewy, heavy nature of the cookie. The gelée was next, with a sweet yet tangy flair finishing with a fascinating, herbal alcoholic tinge. The third treat was my favorite, basically a fruit biscuit topped with a tropical fruit salad; think of it as a high-class fruit cake--very nice. Number four was described as a palate cleanser by our server. The sweet tang of apple was strong on the attack, while the finish was imbued with the cool nature of cucumber. The mozzarella, meanwhile, added depth and weight--refreshing! Rounding out the fivesome was a chocolate ganache and chocolate sorbet, set off by candied ginger. It was a nice bittersweet bite, with a lovely crunchy texture to boot.

Frozen Lemon, Spanish Olive Oil Assorted Meringues
We closed with some petit fours. First, we each received our own bowls of frozen lemon, topped with Spanish olive oil; the result was incredibly tangy, but with a savory finish. We then shared plates of assorted meringues, cookies, and green tea "leafs" with toasted pine nut.

If this post has seemed somewhat more disjointed than usual, there's a reason for that. I don't think that I've ever had this much difficulty putting together a review. Pierre Gagnaire's food is unconventional, surprising, jarring even, with some truly unique combinations of tastes, textures, temperatures, and ingredients. It is challenging, sometimes confusing, and often times intellectual. This is one of those rare instances where I felt that some of the food was truly beyond me--the cuisine must be approached with curiousity, playfulness, and a keenly open mind. If this is the inimitable style of Gagnaire, replete with dangerous juxtapositions and astonishing oppositions, teeming with unexpected but not unwelcome sensations, then I say: bring it on, I look forward to the challenge.


Blogger mattatouille said...

one wonders, if the food is that challenging to understand, is it going to be popular with American diners?

Monday, December 07, 2009 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger MyLastBite said...

Ahhh.... these are the KevinEats photos I LOVE!


: )

Monday, December 07, 2009 11:27:00 AM  
Blogger The Active Foodie said...

Wow! What a meal Kevin! Everything looked delicious, but I would love some of that lobster and john dory right now!

Monday, December 07, 2009 11:54:00 AM  
Blogger sarah j. gim said...

what is food that is "intellectual?"

Monday, December 07, 2009 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger FoodDigger said...

I came in ready for anything, and I still was unable to grasp it all. To have a course on one plate, I had imagined prior to coming in, would have been challenging at Twist. But to have 3 to 5 components for each course, with many of the "components" strong enough to stand alone, It was more than my palate could handle. The level of sophistication and creativity was remarkable, and I can only hope my palate catches up one day so that I can truly understand and appreciate what we experienced. As for now, great meal and great time with you guys.

Monday, December 07, 2009 12:06:00 PM  
Anonymous Gastronomer said...

It would really suck to be the dishwasher at Twist!

PG's multi-dish courses reminded me of Corton in NYC -- the seaweed butter too.

Great scoop, Kev!

Monday, December 07, 2009 12:32:00 PM  
Blogger Hall-e said...

my mind (and palate) is still reeling from that night! great post and pics...i'm so sad i was too late to take pics w/ M. Gagnaire!

Monday, December 07, 2009 12:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Joce at Foodie Finder said...

Wow! Loved the way you captured each course. It makes me excited for our dinner there on Xmas Day. It's a prix fixe dinner for $185 (boo!) so it'll be interesting to find out what Gagnaire has up his sleeve (hopefully he's still there when we arrive).

BTW, I'm taking your advice and coming here again in March for my bday weekend.


Monday, December 07, 2009 1:36:00 PM  
Blogger food je t'aime said...

everything looks so delicious!
i love that each course came on multiple plates.

so jealous!

Monday, December 07, 2009 2:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Wow, you guys went all out with the supplements. And how did you manage to eat for almost 5 straight hours??? I'm bowing down to you.

Monday, December 07, 2009 4:45:00 PM  
Blogger me said...

hi kevin, funny - i was in vegas last wk, too! another coincidence - it seems that we both know holly. glad you all had a nice dinner. btw, re: leth - was this identical to the one we had at r23? jane

Tuesday, December 08, 2009 3:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Jai Kohli said...

How long ago did you have to book the reservations? Was the restaurant full? God, I hope he does well given what's been happening around Vegas, especially with the City Center development. I'm shocked the pricing is so reasonable. Ha, I think next time you go you'll have to order the gamut :)

Tuesday, December 08, 2009 10:09:00 PM  
Blogger Kung Food Panda said...

Even though the meal seems to be different, unique, strange in many ways. I'm intrigue to try this when I go back to Vegas, though Guy Savoy is on my #1 list at the moment!

BTW, love some of those shots you had of Twist.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009 10:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

Your photo of the potato chip canape is simply amazing! And those vegetable gnocchi look wonderful! Thanks!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009 11:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm salivating over this post! Challenging food? Bring it on.

Thursday, December 10, 2009 1:02:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Matt: That's something that I'm concerned with as well. Time will tell if the kitchen evolves the menu to better suit the tastes of the bourgeois.

Jo: Thanks! The photos turned out decently given the uneven lighting.

Sonja: Good choices. ;)

Sarah: Food that makes you ruminate. For example, here, I was left scratching my head trying to deduce what the Chef was thinking with some of the flavor combinations.

Will: Thanks for coming out! Too bad you can't make it to Masa. :(

Cathy: Ahh Corton...they still don't allow photos do they? Oh well, means I can't visit. :p

Holly: You could've totally taken a photo with him! Remember when he came over and I asked him for signed menus?

Joce: I believe M. Gagnaire is leaving on the 14th, so I think you're out of luck. :(

Christina: Any plans to visit Vegas soon? :)

Brian: Originally, we were planning on supplementing some main courses as well! However, due to the multiple plates for each course, we were quite stuffed at the end of it, so we nixed that idea. Also, five hours isn't that bad--Urasawa's about as long. And then you have that 6.5-hour meal at Providence. ;)

Jane: Small world! How do you know Holly? And yes, the Leth was the same, though of a different vintage.

Jai: I believe I booked in early November, when it was first announced that the restaurant would be opening on the 5th. It was maybe half full, but then again, we got there late, at 9:00. I think that running the gamut here is doable with the right 4-person team. ;)

Danny: Which shots? You mean the ones of the restaurant itself? But yeah, Twist should be near the top of your list, though certainly there's nothing wrong with putting Savoy on top. You might want to consider Masa's new place as well.

Josh: Thanks Josh. Which Vegas restaurants have you been to?

Linden: Indeed. ;)

Friday, December 11, 2009 2:18:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

Sunday, December 13, 2009 1:05:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


The photos were beautiful! Looking at them and reading the description of the courses, nearly brought me to tears of sublime happiness. I'll be going to Twist this year and will not rest until I do.

Sunday, December 13, 2009 1:06:00 PM  
Blogger me said...

hi kevin...holly and i met pretty recently at a yelp event. it's hilarious how your name even came up. i told her to check out your site for one of your reviews (i forget which restaurant we were discussin), and she says, "i know kevin! i just had dinner with him and ryan in vegas over the weekend!" lol

Tuesday, December 15, 2009 7:41:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Katherine: Thanks! Let us know how Twist turns out for you. :)

Jane: Lol, small world!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 1:22:00 AM  
Anonymous tallnoe said...

Oh lawd. I was downtown drinking myself into a stupor at that time. I kept texting Will to see if he was done yet, and getting drunker and drunker. :D Everything looked gorgeous!

Thanks for the writeup and the pictures.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

What were you in Vegas for??? Did you eat anywhere nice?

Friday, December 18, 2009 2:40:00 AM  
Blogger Kung Food Panda said...

Yup, I really enjoyed the panoramic shots you've been putting up on your reviews. Very nice!

Sunday, December 20, 2009 11:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Foodnut said...

Great review and nice pics.

Pierre Gagnaire definitely adds to the foodie scene in Vegas. Where else can you dine on all these top rated chefs without flying to Paris.

This food is definitely hard core foodie cuisine. Many mainstream diners are probably better off at a steakhouse.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009 9:32:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Danny: How long before others start doing it as well? ;)

Foodnut: Completely agree. But the last thing Vegas needs is another steakhouse!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009 7:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Josh Lindsay said...

Late response, but I have not been to any restaurants in Las Vegas except for maybe the Hard Rock Cafe when I was a young child! However, after your two posts of Guy Savoy, If I end up driving to Colorado in the next couple of weeks, I plan to stop off in Las Vegas for a night!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009 6:54:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Four of us dined Wed Jan 6, with great anticipation. The service was CATASTROPHIC! I have never had to ask wine to be served before, but as the main courses arrived, all the wine glasses were empty...the main courses arrived as one of us was away from the table, which the servers did not notice...on and on. Dinner for four, $1200, with the alcohol tab only $400 of that, and skipping dessert...uninterested servers, and amateur. We will never return. A near-total bust!

Saturday, January 09, 2010 12:50:00 PM  
Anonymous AK said...

Beauuuuutiful post! We're going to Twist on Wednesday, and I thought I couldn't be more excited, but I was wrong. I cannot wait..!

Sunday, February 21, 2010 11:17:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

AK, how did it turn out?

Friday, February 26, 2010 12:48:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Had dinner at Twist last weekend and it was truly exceptional. WIth all the restaurant buzz in Las Vegas lately, Gagnaire should proud. It shouldn't be long before the restaurant garners at least Two Michelin Stars when the guide returns. Vegas needs the guide back!!

Monday, March 22, 2010 12:22:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Good to hear that you had an exceptional time at Twist--I could definitely see two stars for the place. Any idea when Michelin's coming back?

Thursday, March 25, 2010 1:00:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kevin, just found your blog and am in heaven.

We have reservations at Twist next month.

Can you please provide a brief critique comparing it to Alinea? I would appreciate it very much.

Monday, April 05, 2010 12:56:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you please post a brief critique comparing Twist to Alinea?

Monday, April 05, 2010 1:13:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks! They're not all that similar to me, really. Is there any particular reason you feel the need to compare them?

Tuesday, April 06, 2010 11:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, my husband didn't like Alinea at all - too small portions, too weird, too contrived - and I want to go to Twist but don't want it to be another bad experience for him. I did show him the Twist menu and he liked it. It's just that sometimes Gagnaire is spoken of in the same terms as Achatz, but I don't really see it to that great an extent.

Sorry about the double post but it has taken several days to even show up.

Friday, April 09, 2010 9:48:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

I think you can go ahead and try Twist. Though both restaurants may be considered "avant garde," the two are different in their approaches. That being said, the food at twist is challenging as well, so your husband still may not care for it.

Sunday, April 11, 2010 10:13:00 PM  
Anonymous David Naimark said...

Had dinner at Twist last night. Tasting menu with wines and I added a cheese course. Very interesting food--most of it was delicious, some of it I just didn't get, all of it was well executed. Too bad you weren't there--you could have explained it to me!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010 4:13:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

David--I don't know how much help I could've been. Some of it was a bit beyond me as well! Would love to go back sometime.

Monday, April 19, 2010 12:38:00 AM  
Anonymous Steve said...


Was the Gaja Ca'Marcanda really $165??? It retails for about $40 and you can get it in LA at several restaurants (Rustic Canyon and La Vecchia, and one other I can't remember) for $70-80. If

Tuesday, September 14, 2010 5:58:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Yes Steve, you read that right! Sadly, that type of markup is not uncommon at Vegas' top eateries.

Monday, September 20, 2010 11:23:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great review, Kevin! I had an amazing dinner at Twist on Wednesday! Here's the post:

Friday, June 24, 2011 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Nice post Andrew! It's awesome to see how Twist's menu has progressed since my visit. Great to see that they haven't dumbed things down too much.

Saturday, July 02, 2011 5:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

First out on our Vegas trip we hit up Twist (review here). Whacky but good! I quoted you too (in the review). E did allow photos BTW, just no flash.

Monday, September 26, 2011 8:03:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Still looks good Andy! I'm still not happy about the "steakhouse pandering," but I suppose it's alright as long as they keep PG's "real" food going.

Sunday, October 02, 2011 3:02:00 PM  
Blogger The Bartender said...

Hi Kevin, I'm a big fan of your blog! The pics of Twist look amazing. I've just recently reviewed with my first real blog post the Pierre Gagnaire restaurant in Tokyo:
It would be great to receive some feedback of the review if you can. I also wonder if you think visually (although taken with an iPhone) it compares with the food at Twist as I understand Pierre Gagnaire has his restaurants use the local ingredients and influences. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 03, 2012 5:25:00 AM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Thanks--glad to hear that you've been enjoying the blog! So Pierre Gagnaire is quite a review to start off with. I read your entire post, and I think you're doing fine with your informal, matter-of-fact style. If you do decide to stay in this blog game though, I would invest in an upgraded camera, as humans are very visual animals after all.

Visually, I think the plating and presentation are not quite on par with what I witnessed here in Vegas, though certainly, that all might change depending on the particular set of dishes.

Tuesday, July 03, 2012 7:54:00 PM  
Blogger The Bartender said...

Thank you so much for your comments regarding about writing style and advice for my blog. I will take them into much consideration, especially the part about the camera.

I can imagine that to be true regarding your comparison between Tokyo and Twist in LV. I still gotta try Twist. It's great that you've got to meet Pierre Gagnaire himself. My friend and I were just a couple of weeks late when he was at the Tokyo location himself.

Once again, thanks for your input and take care!

Wednesday, July 04, 2012 11:06:00 PM  
Blogger kevinEats said...

Also, one more thing: I would consider making the photos physically larger in size. They're a bit small at the moment.

Monday, July 09, 2012 2:11:00 AM  
Blogger The Bartender said...

Thanks! I ended up resizing them.

Now on to what I really wanted to comment: I recently dined at Twist and L'atelier de Joel Robuchon last month.

During my time at Twist, I felt that the service (attentive, polite and friendly), the quality of the ingredients, the cooking technique, and the execution of the dishes were better than LJR. All the dishes at Twist were great but the problem was that they didn't blow me away in terms of flavor like some of the dishes at LJR even though I just mentioned that Twist surpasses LJR in the previously mentioned variables. Although I had a better overall experience at Twist, I had to say that I enjoyed the food more at LJR. But then again, I had the seasonal tasting menu at LJR vs two courses a la cart at Twist. I definitely plan to give Twist another, more fairer shot when I head back to Vegas.

Friday, January 25, 2013 10:36:00 AM  

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