Neon lights twinkle like stars under the desert sky in Las Vegas as this culinary city celebrates numerous culinary stars as well. A five-star rating from Forbes is a huge accomplishment for any restaurant or resort, and in 2017, the Forbes Travel Guide made history in this gastronomic capital of renowned chefs and restaurateurs.
The Bellagio Resort and Casino has always been known for its classy, exemplary service and as a haven for celebrity chefs. This year the Bellagio made history when two of its restaurants — Le Cirque Las Vegas and Picasso — rose to the rarefied air of five Forbes stars. Never has one resort had the honor of housing two five-star venues on the same property. We joined a select group of journalists and dignitaries to celebrate an evening at both venues.
Our first stop brought us to the French- and Spanish-influenced Picasso, helmed by chef Julian Serrano. We dined alfresco alongside the Bellagio fountain and enjoyed world-class wines paired with each course. Serrano joined us as we started with imperial osetra caviar that transitioned perfectly into the foie gras au torchon with apple galette and coulis of red apple cider and roasted walnut. Serrano’s effervescent personality had us engaged and eager for more, and he delivered with a superb center cut tenderloin and an Alaskan king crab with sauce amercaine and piquillo pepper. It was now time to continue this five-star celebration at Le Cirque.
We took our seats again and waited with great anticipation for another exquisite experience. Wilfried Bergerhausen, the young and spirited executive chef, was excited to showcase his dishes. Japanese yellowtail with avocado, heart of palm and topped with yuzu mirin was a beautiful way to start. Le Crabe, a tasty Maryland blue crab with Russian osetra caviar and ocean water smoke got our palates jumping for joy. Bergerhausen arrived at the table once again with his soupe savoyarde aux topinambours. This Savoyard sunchoke soup with wild mushrooms and fromage de raclette was rich with layers of flavor that surprised with both simplicity and complexity in each sip. This youthful yet accomplished chef hit his full stride when the Saint Jacques took its place in front of us. This dish featured a flawlessly cooked Hokkaido scallop with daikon “tagliatelle,” roasted peanuts, ginger, and Thai curry sauce for just the right amount of heat. Astonished at the previous gastronomically innovative and sophisticated dishes we were in for yet another lovely surprise. la toué de veau, braised veal cheeks with black trumpet mushrooms and cauliflower purée and finished with a perfect perigueux sauce was an ideal way to finish this one-of-a-kind evening.
We have dined all over the world and have had some very memorable experiences over the last decade, yet this evening at the resplendent Bellagio Resort in Las Vegas celebrating the stars with chefs Julian Serrano and Wilfried Bergerhausen was one that will stand out in our careers.