Sinatra - Wynn Encore Las Vegas

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Dinner decisions at home are hard enough. Everything within 5 miles has become routine, and driving farther is a hassle. In Las Vegas, it’s fairly easy to fall prey to the same self-limiting constraints. To eat at one of the many fine restaurants within one’s own hotel? Or go elsewhere?

Debate…debate. I read late last year that a restaurant was opening in Vegas named, “Sinatra,” the first andSinatras logo only Sinatra-themed restaurant approved by his daughter, who tightly controls all things related to him. His relationship with Steve Wynn, a casino mogul, no doubt played a factor, but to put his name on a product outside of things he created would require great care and trust.

The ritzy Encore, a full addition to the Wynn, carries with it Vegas styled opulence, and features no less than 5 fine dining establishments. I don’t know what exactly it takes to be an “acclaimed” chef, but Vegas is replete with them. Whether the accolades are earned by the quality of their product or bequeathed by marketing consultants, complimentary adjectives don’t make a sale on their own. In any case, it is left to “acclaimed chef” Theo Schoenegger to satisfy the expectations for those that arrive for the Sinatra name and/or the cuisine.

Despite the curiosity, and with my wife’s wholesale art show planned a full year in advance, I remained hesitant to make a reservation. First to be considered was the expense. “Acclaimed” comes at a price, and there’s no easier means to increase revenue than charging à la carte. Gone are the few years when Vegas tried to sell itself as family friendly, though certainly bargains can be found both on and off the Strip for dining in this economy. But, many of the casinos will always cater to the more wealthy, such as Wynn, and $100 seems to be the common denominator of things done in Vegas. Buy a ticket to a show; you’ll see.

Secondly, as a Sinatra fan, I was as much interested in the experience as I was in the menu, which largely included, appropriately, Italian fare. Given the abundance of fine dining options in Las Vegas, and not being enough of gambler to write off a mistake as a casualty to Lady Luck, there was also an increased element of risk as this is a new restaurant, as yet unproven in the scarcity of reviews found online.

And the third factor was the photosSinatra interior of the interior of the restaurant, which implied fairly  heavy pink or salmon tones...not exactly my preference.

Yet, I rolled the dice.

We arrived early, by Vegas standards, at 6:00 p.m., but having recently arrived from Atlanta, our appetites said it was 9:00 p.m. EST. 

The restaurant space itself is classically elegant – ashen paneling, burnt orange andsinatras portrait light green upholstery – it harkens back to the 60’s or  70’s, but was not at all tacky or tired. 

So what does one put in a restaurant named for Sinatra?  Gold albums? His Oscar? A Planet Hollywood approach of candid photos from wall to wall?  No.  There were several photographs of Wynn and Sinatra posted at the entrance, and there were two large portraits hung within. 

Mostly, the restaurant was filled with his music.  As most of his songs clock in at 2.5 minutes, a great number of songs can be covered during a leisurely dinner. Happily, all the songs were among those I would consider his best, and, no doubt, many more remained after our 1.5 hours before they would threaten to repeat. It helps that the designers were serious about the sound system, which supplemented the dining experience without making conversation difficult.

Starting things right was our waiter, Garbon.  He was very good humored, knew the restaurant's offerings intimately, and, I suspect, is blessed by many friends who value his kindness. 

We began with drinks, and I hesitantly decided on a Sinatra Smash, a fruity blend sinatra capresewith whiskey that I can't envision Sinatra favoring.  Nevertheless, it was the only "signature" drink, and it was very good.  Appetizers included Caprese (bufala mozzarella, tomato, andsinatras polpettine basil) and Polpettine (meatballs, polenta, mushrooms).  The meatballs were fresh and certainly better than the generic frozen ones, but it was actually the cubed polenta  that stood out, very moist.

For entrees, my wife had the Chickensinatra chicken saltimbocca Saltimbocca.  Her opinion was that it was very good, but not as tangy as she would have expected.  Additionally,  she thought the preparation more of a Chicken Cordon Bleu in wrapping and flavor.

I had a daily special, tenderloin with asparagus  sinatras tenderloinand tomatoes, which was as tender as I've ever had it.  And, it was cooked to perfection. The portion was generous, but it was so light that I managed to finish it without feeling forced.  Or, perhaps it was because my wife shared a couple bites.

Finally, we came to dessert, where my wifesinatra sorbertti "won" the selection.  Wanting something minimal, I had Gelati e Sorbetti, a raspberry flavor that was curious in presentation.  My wife had the  Mille Foglie (banana and crème brulée Napoleon hazelnut gelato) which was superb.sinatras napoleon

The restaurant is certainly not scenic; there are only three tables (for two) that feature a clear garden view.  That said, the voice of Sinatra more than compensates for any disappointments in that regard, and if you don't have eyes for the one you're with, you're probably in the wrong place.

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