TWIST by Pierre Gagnaire3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas NV 89158
TWIST by Pierre Gagnaire is the famed Michelin Three Star chef’s only restaurant in the United States, and calls the Mandarin Oriental home. Forbes Five-Star awarded TWIST invites guests to dine among the stars—the restaurant showcases sculptural globe lighting that hangs from the ceiling and mimics the whimsical glow of twilight. 20-foot windows also provide a spectacular view from the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental, while platform seating ensures every table in the TWIST dining room enjoys a premium vantage point over the Las Vegas Strip. When one descends TWIST’s glass staircase while looking out upon the twinkling desert, it only cements the point that one has, in fact, transcended to a higher dining plane. Chef Pierre Gagnaire’s innovative cooking engages the senses and excites the imagination by exploring traditional French cuisine through modern interpretations. Each dish is both familiar yet completely new in the way its presentation pleases the eye and its flavor profile arouses the palate. Specialties like the Foie Gras Degustation attract seasoned gastronomes, while the restaurant’s renowned selection of premium steaks and chops never disappoints. Many diners build their TWIST experience around the Three Course Tasting Menu, and some take it to an entirely new level with the truly lavish Six Course Tasting option. Visitors look forward to reaching the stars at TWIST.
An Unforgettable Evening in the Desert Sky
Review by TableAgent
There is a subtle but important difference between finery and decadence. And in a city like Las Vegas, known for being over the top in the latter category, it is a breath of fresh spring air to encounter a place that embraces the former with dignity and ease. TWIST by Pierre Gagnaire, located inside the Mandarin Oriental, is the oasis of stateliness and decorum in the city awash in excess. Housed on the twenty third floor of this stately hotel, TWIST overlooks the famed Las Vegas Strip with a quiet grandeur. While both the restaurant and the hotel it lives in are elegant, TWIST is far from being cold and aloof.
The almost whimsical entrance to TWIST begins down the hall from the elevator and hundreds of paper butterflies hanging from vines greet us as we walk in grinning. They signify a restaurant that while serious in their cuisine, is also not afraid to embrace the unusual side of things. We arrive slightly early for our reservation and are greeted by Matthias, the GM. Far from the snobby, pretentious maître d that Hollywood has portrayed for years, Matthias is friendly and gracious, smiling and chatting us up while he directs us to our table. Walking to the table I am stuck by the design of the space. Not overly large, but with twists (ahem) and turns, and carefully thought-out partitions, each table seems to be all alone in the restaurant. Overhead are single hanging bulbs ensconced by large, clear globes that as it gets darker and darker begin to look more and more like stars shining in the night sky. Matthias seats us on a small, private dais where we can gaze out on their incredible view of the Strip through the floor to ceiling windows, as well as see right in to their open concept kitchen. As the sun begins to set, the lights of Las Vegas begin to twinkle down below us, signaling the beginning of an evening not easily forgot.
TWIST is essentially a French restaurant, which sounds reasonable given that at its helm is famed French Chef Pierre Gagnaire, but it is so much more than your typical French cuisine. With a name like TWIST, one would guess that Gagnaire’s menu takes classic French food and gives it a modern flair. Not only that, but Gagnaire also showcases some of America’s finest cuts of meat, such as the California Wagyu Beef filet, Nebraska Prime Rib Eye, and Pennsylvania Veal Chop. Add in Gagnaire’s penchant for molecular gastronomy, views of the Strip from the twenty third floor, and amazing interior design, and you have the modern classic, TWIST.
We take a few minutes to look over the menu and decide our best option is to be put in the hands of TWIST’s capable staff. Our server Andrew declares the tasting menu is the ideal choice for us, and after making sure we didn’t have any allergies or aversions to anything in particular, he leaves to get us drinks. I begin the night with a tequila cocktail called Femme Chinnoise, a delightful combination of reposado tequila, Riesling, and a touch of grapefruit. I am surprised to note how well the Riesling balanced against the sultry tones of aged tequila, and the grapefruit added the right amount of tart citrus to play against the sweetness of the wine.
Before the first tasting course, Andrew brings us out a little canapé to get our proverbial juices flowing. One of them is a phyllo pastry with anchovy, corn and popcorn (yes, popcorn). It is the very essence of TWIST, whimsical and delicious. There is also a cube of date with smoked goat cheese and paprika with a passionfruit gele. I immediately want more.
The wine for the next course arrives and my date gets a Riesling from Germany’s oldest Riesling winemaker, Langwerth von Simmer. The tart apple hits fast and dries quickly thereafter. Unlike many of it’s stateside counterparts, this wine isn’t nearly as sweet as it’s name would suggest. I receive an Etude Pinot Noir from Carneros. A light, citric, California wine in a fancy French restaurant located in the heart of the Nevada desert… well played TWIST, well played.
Our first course arrives and I am pleased to see I get the Surf ‘n’ Turf, a pleasant combination of Maine Lobster Tail, Santa Barbara shrimps, clam, cuttlefish, and prime beef tartar. Mixed in is an arrangement of different mushrooms, cilantro, mango and kiwi. It is an explosion of flavor with each ingredient working in concert with the next.
My date gets a mushroom soup with chicken and gnocchi. She asks Andrew why it is green and he tells her it is because of all the fresh herbs they blend into the broth. I try a spoonful based on her jubilant reaction and have to ask Andrew, “Is that…coconut?” He laughs and says, “Yes it is. And maple syrup.” Unbelievable.
We also have a sweet pancetta with bacon crumbles and a frozen banana on top. The uncommon crunch of the bacon counterpointed by the banana elicits a giggle of surprised joy from my date.
The last dish in this course is an escargot soup. Made in a celery rémoulade, it is rich almost to the point of hearty. It is also my first experience with escargot, and while I doubt I’ll ever have them this wonderful again, TWIST has made me a believer.
Our next course is the Hudson Foie Gras degustation. A smattering of small plates containing terrine layered with dates; Glenmorangie perfumed ginger bread; duck confit, red port sautéed shallots; and foie gras velouté with burgundy snails. We are both struck by the presentation of these dishes. The attention to detail in the small garnishes and even placement of the sauces is impeccable. The terrine (which is like a paté, if you were wondering) has perfect texture, and the dates add a mellow sweetness. The smokiness from the scotch perfume on the ginger bread brings the snap of the ginger to the forefront of the taste. The velouté on the snails add a velvety texture that compliments the texture of the snails amazingly well.
Next up is our “intermezzo”, a fun, small dish consisting of cucumber, tomato, and pineapple all soaked in Kirsch brandy Roederer Champagne Granite, with a rhubarb mousse. Just as the definition of the word intermezzo suggests, this playful independent dish serves as a delightful introduction to our next course, while also cleansing our palates. The rhubarb mousse is a charming differentiation to the crispness of the cucumber and tomato.
At this point, the head chef comes over to our table to chat. I’m wondering what we did to warrant this attention, until I notice that throughout the evening he stops by each and every table to ensure their experience for the night is top-notch. I assure him that we are most definitely in the upper echelon of amazing life experiences. He laughs and leaves us to enjoy the main course.
For our main entrée, my date receives Mediteranean John Dory, a seared fillet with pink pepper, esplette butter, potato paille “Colette”, banyuls leaf, Beurre Blanc, and chive. The fish is finely textured and buttery with a slight sweetness to it. The fish does an excellent job of absorbing the flavors around it, adding just a touch of tang. It is seared to perfection, and the one little bite my date let me have, melts in my mouth.
For my entrée, Andrew sets down the Venison. It is a roasted filet with black pepper, juniper berries, yellow beets, salsify, and poivrade sauce. On the side is spaetzle with seared Gala apple and a Messclun Salad. The salad on the side is made with green curry vinaigrette, a slightly spicy and original interpretation of a classic. The spaetzle is doughy and the apple adds a tangy kick. The venison itself is tender and juicy, while the poivrade sauce (much like a port reduction, I am told later) is nothing short of heavenly.
Our last wine pairing of the evening is a 2009 Banyuls dessert wine. Served chilled, it invokes a sweet raisin taste on the palate. It is an excellent compliment to dessert- coffee gelée cubes with kahlua. Keeping with the theme of our dinner, I am still delightfully surprised at the unexpected tastes and textures of this coffee flavored jelly.
As dinner is winding down, a quiet samba begins playing in the background and the globes overhead sway slightly in time to the music. Everything around us seems to be working in concert as if every piece of the world is in tune with everything else, imploring us to stay and enjoy ourselves just a little longer. It makes me briefly consider quitting my job, moving out of my apartment, and taking up permanent residence at my table in TWIST. Unfortunately all things, even things as astounding as this dinner, come to an end.
Insider Tip: While they serve menu items ala carte, you really should go with a tasting menu. With all of the amazing gourmet TWIST has to offer, there shouldn’t be any reason you limit yourself to just one or two menu items.
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- Address: 3752 Las Vegas Blvd. South, Las Vegas NV 89158
- Cross Street: West Harmon Avenue
- Location: Las Vegas Strip
- Cuisine: French |
- Cost: | Very Expensive
- Category: Fine Dining
- Star Rating:
- Reservations: Recommended
- Dress Code: Business Casual
- Meals Served: Dinner |
- Parking: Private Lot | Valet Parking |
- Payment Options: VISA | Amex | MasterCard | Discover |
- Corkage Fee: 95.00 | Per 750ml bottle. 2 Bottle Max.
| Master Chef
- Website: http://www.mandarinoriental.com/lasvegas/dining/twist/
- Phone: (888) 881-9367
- Features: Full Bar, Hotel Dining, Famous Chef, Organic Ingredients, Private Room, Prix Fixe Menu, Tasting Menu, Valet Parking,
- Occasion: Romantic Dining, Dining Alone, Business Dining, Special Occasion, Trendy / Hip,