Las Vegas Dining: Twist by Pierre Gagnaire at Mandarin Oriental
Dining at Las Vegas’ Twist Restaurant by Pierre Gagnaire in the Mandarin Oriental is to the culinary connoisseur perhaps equal to a musical connoisseur visiting the Metropolitan Opera in New York City.
In both circumstances, the fortunate patron will have an experience that is lightyears beyond ordinary, and only available in a scant few places in the world.
Twist is one of only a little over 20 Forbes 5-Star restaurants in the United States, and Chef Pierre Gagnaire is one of only just over 100 Michelin 3-Star chefs in the entire world.
Born in Apinac, France, Pierre Gagnaire’s excellent cuisine is often described as modern, although it is deeply rooted in the French cooking tradition.
The son of restaurant owners, Gagnaire began his career in Lyon before travelling the world to hone his craft. In 1976, he returned home to his family restaurant, Le Clos Fleury, where he earned his first Michelin star. He opened his first restaurant in 1981 in Saint Etienne, going on to win two Michelin stars, an achievement he exceeded in 1992 when his second restaurant won three Michelin stars.
Gagnaire moved to Paris in 1996 where he opened his eponymous restaurant, going on once again to win three Michelin stars. Since then, he has become Head Chef and owner of numerous restaurants worldwide including the highly acclaimed Pierre at Mandarin Oriental, Hong Kong. In 2009, Gagnaire joined forces with Mandarin Oriental, Las Vegas, to open Twist, his first and only US restaurant.
Having said all that, we were more than a little excited when we were invited to sample Chef Pierre’s cuisine.
We started our evening in the Mardarin Bar located on the 23rd floor which offered us stunning views of the Las Vegas Strip. While there you might want to try The Golden Leaf (The Mandarin Martini) which consists of Hendrick’s, Aperol, muddled mandarin, pineapple, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. Yum!
The Mandarin Bar
As you can see, the 23rd floor setting and the opulent interior design would make a marvelous setting for any special occasion. However, Twist does not rely on its surroundings alone to command your attention. The moment we took our seats we were immediately attended to by a small army of waitstaff clearly communicating to us that this would be no ordinary experience.
As we began to peruse the menu, the chef sent out a dizzying array of appetizers for the four of us to sample. Let me just say that our palates were taken to wondrous places we’ve never before explored. Wow!
For our entrées, we enjoyed Raw & Poached Shellfish (marine broth, yazu-yogurt sorbet, cheddar toast, grated chestnuts and hazelnuts), Porcini and Foie Gras (seared foie gras, porcini velouté, sunchokes, orange-onion gelée, chicory and sorrel-stuffed lettuce, scallop carpaccio, celery brunoise, creamy avocado mousse), and Venison Loin (fresh thyme and kerala pepper, pumpkin and celery root, traditional civet, green cabbage leaf and cured ham).
But the best dish of all, in my humble opinion, which elicited an inner primordial mmmmm with each and every bite was the Tandoori Seared Monkfish (shallot and mushroom duxelle, green apple julienne). Oh my heavens! I’ve been fortunate to enjoy fish from some of the world’s best chefs, but this might have just been the best combination of tastes I’ve ever experienced in a fish entrée.
When you visit, if this dish is on the menu, and you appreciate fish, then you simply must order it. Again. Wow!
Just as an American fireworks display must end with a grand finale, so to did our meal with the Grand Dessert Pierre Gagnaire (six desserts inspired by French traditional patisseries).
Again, I must confess, it was quite a spectacle to see a multitude of waitstaff descend upon our table with 24 separate plates of dessert. Take a peek below.
As I reflect back upon this gastronomical journey, I can boldly pronounce that this was one of the best dining experiences we’ve enjoyed. We were with great friends in a remarkable setting with superb waitstaff enjoying the cuisine of one of the world’s most renown chefs. What more could one want?
The three-course tasting menu is $110/person, and if you like, you can add a wine paring option to your experience bringing the tab to $190/person.
I just checked, and great seats to see Verdi’s Aida at the Met are $200-300. Just as the Met is no ordinary operatic venue, so too is Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s dining experience no ordinary cuisine.
We highly recommend that you explore the cuisine of Chef Pierre Gagnaire at least once in your life. I know that we certainly hope to do it again sometime, and hopefully soon!
Disclosure: our dining experience was provided by the kind folks a Twist. Thank you!