Elaine and Scott Harris
Elaine and Scott Harris
Celebrity chef Charlie Palmer has been helming restaurants for decades. His empire is vast and renowned for world-class cuisine and fine wines, and even includes hotels. Recently, Palmer upgraded Aureole in Las Vegas at the Mandalay Bay resort. “Upgraded” is an understatement; “reimagined” is more of what resulted from the upscale changes in décor and on the menu.
Bringing on a very talented and highly skilled executive chef was at the forefront of Palmer’s agenda, and he found just that with chef John Church. This seasoned chef is well known for his creative dishes and imaginative ingredient combinations that have garnered him a top-flight reputation through his many years in Las Vegas.
We walked through the new Aureole with Palmer as he pointed out many of the cosmetic changes to his Las Vegas landmark restaurant. Looking upward, the famous wine angels (the staff in harnesses sent to collect bottles) were soaring high in the multi-story wine tower with their own new digs. The color palette has become more vibrant with shades of purple, undulating organic tree-shaped light fixtures, and eye-catching silver wall embellishments. Each design element is an emphasis on fluidity that carries into a more natural and relaxed dining environment.
As we walked to our table, Palmer explained, “The new changes at Aureole have moved from a classic table experience to a much more modern tasting experience designed for the way people want to enjoy their evening.” For oenophiles, don’t worry; Aureole will maintain its reputation as having one of the finest wine selections in the world, but now will offer an extensive wine bar display of wines by the glass as you enter into the visually stunning dining area.
Taking our seats, we quickly saw Church’s innovative influence across the menu. It features three natural foundations of food: Root, Surf, and Ranch. Each section features eight dishes, arranged in order from lighter fare to more bold flavors. Palmer and Church are featuring an emphasis on sharing dishes, tasting new flavors, and enjoying great wine.
Starting with the Root section, enjoy hummus, baba ganoush, and tzatziki on herb garlic flatbread. For a more robust dish, the root vegetable cassoulet includes heirloom beans and basil pistou. From the Ranch section, try the turkey, ham, and cheese meatballs with rich Gruyère and jamón ibérico topped with a creamy peppercorn sauce. For carnivores, cut into a medium-rare four-times-seared 16-ounce bone-in ribeye seasoned with sea salt, soy, mirin, and uni. If you love the sea, visit the Surf section. The classic California crab roll with avocado and puffed rice is a great start. Follow the roll with a flavorful lion fish ceviche with coconut, ginger, ají amarillo, and a few tempura shiso leaves. If you have a bigger appetite, don’t pass up the Veta la Palma sea bass with chimichurri.
It’s always a pleasure to meet up with Palmer when he is in town, and we will be in often to explore Church’s continually changing and imaginative dishes.