French Restaurant in Las Vegas, United States: Picasso Restaurants, Wine, Travel, Opinions

Picasso HeartHeart
Restaurants and bars
Las Vegas
Open: Dinner Thurs-Tues
Price: Expensive

Reviewed By

Sue Dyson and Roger McShane
Phone Number: +1 702 693 7223
Address: 3600 Las Vegas Blvd, South
Las Vegas, Nevada, 89109
Country: United States
Food Style: French

It must be difficult in a town like Las Vegas to maintain high food standards in a restaurant. Food is often seen as something to fit in between gambling and a show and then more gambling. As such, despite the glittering array of names of top chefs that are bandied about here, there is not great depth to the food offerings in this town. Most of the big names merely 'oversee' the menus - they rarely appear in the kitchen during service.
Julian Serrano is an exception. The food served at Picasso is very good and is cooked with real commitment. In fact the entire dining experience here is very, very good.
The greeting when you arrive at the downstairs venue on the edge of the 'lake' is warm and genuine. You will be shown to your table past huge arrays of flowers and a tantalising display of Picasso paintings and a few sculptures.
If you want to have a really impressive drink to start your meal then ask for a champagne that you rarely see on wine lists anywhere. The Salon 1988 is an intriguing, little-known label that has a unique and appealing flavour. It is one of our favourite specialty champagnes and one we take every opportunity to sample.
We perused the brief menu and the four of us decided to opt for the Degustation menu (something we don't normally do). It consisted of three appetizers, a main course and a dessert.
An amusee gueule quickly arrived as did a huge bowl of breads. A tiny, crisp frog's leg set off with a deeply-flavoured tomato concasse was interesting without being a show-stopper. But the bread was wonderful. Everything from a spicy lavoche, to grissini, to more traditional offerings were very difficult to stop eating.
The first of the appetizers was a Peekytoe crab stack topped with frisee and with yellow and red bell tomatoes dotted among tiny balls of melon and avocado. We had some misgivings about ordering a dish based on produce from the other side of the country, but we trusted the chef. The presentation was great, the flavour satisfactory without being the type of dish that transports you to a new realm.
But the next dish did. It was so good that it reminded us of some of the great dishes of Neil Perry along a similar line. Neil Perry understands scallops better then just about any chef on earth and does unbelievable things with them. Well, a dish of roasted U-boat scallops sitting on a mousseline of potato and surrounded by a jus de veau (with a potato chip arching protectively over the whole to provide a texture contrast) reminded us of his dishes. This was a great cooking feat. More chefs should experiment with the combination of seafood and light meat sauces. They work perfectly together. The meat sauce melted into the beautifully light potato and lifted the delicate flavour of the scallop to a new height.
A sauteed foie gras followed and was probably the least impressive dish of the night. The overly sweet and rich Madiera sauce dominated the plate and made it difficult to enjoy the flavour of the liver. We know that the French team foie gras with very sweet accompaniments, but it has to be done very cleverly. Similar dishes we tried at Cuvee and the Grill Room in New Orleans in the week preceding this meal were far better.
This problem was soon rectified with the appearance of a simple aged lamb chop. Some jus was poured from a copper saucepan at the table. A nice ragout of mushrooms, a deep-red, flavoursome roasted tomato and a cylinder of potato accompanied. The flavour of the meat was incredible and went perfectly with the Girardin 'Les Darnodes' Nuit St George we were drinking at the time.
Desserts often let us down, but tonight we were lucky. A tapioca pudding was topped with a compote of rhubarb that was flavourful, intense, vibrant and absolutely delicious. If that wasn't enough, it was accompanied by a lovely buttermilk sorbet and a blade of crystallised rhubarb. This immediately went into our top five desserts of the year!
Three great dishes in one night is more than you can expect at many great restaurants so we can unreservedly recommend this place to the food obsessed. Those who value a great dining experience will also value Picasso, as the service is friendly and very professional, the appointments luxurious without being gaudy and the cost of the food reasonable considering where you are and what you are offered.
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