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Eating at Sage LAS
11/06/2012 (rev. 11/07/2012) by
Food, , , , ,

Sage is a popular American contemporary restaurant located in the Aria hotel on the Las Vegas strip.  The head chef, Shawn McClain, won a few chef awards in the past decade.  His executive chef, Richard Camarota, beat Iron Chef Marc Forgione on the the Food Network.  There’s a lot of name dropping here and there, so since my party was staying here, we decided to try this restaurant out based on the rave reviews on Yelp.

As usual, we opted for the Chef’s Tasting Menu.  Note that there are 2 different tasting menus, the signature and the chef’s.  For this night, the signature menu was mainly the head chef’s popular menu items whereas the tasting menu was generally off menu seasonal items.  The signature menu was $89 (wine/beer pairing +$44) and has the following:

1st course: market oysters, wagyu beef tartare, shaved pear and brussel sprout salad, or fois gras brulee +$10
2nd course: grilled spanish octopus or maine dayboat scallops
3rd course: iberico pork loin or 48 hour beef belly or Australian wagyu sirloin for +$15
4th course: gianduja pave or pecan tart

The tasting menu, on the other hand, was $120 (beer pairing +$50, wine pairing +$60) and consisted of 6 courses.  So let’s get started!

On the house from the chef is this market oyster.  I think they said it was a kumamoto, but I’m not entirely sure.  It had piquilo pepper, Tabasco sorbet, and aged tequila Mignonette.  It tasted pretty good.  Excellent start for the night.

The first course was the chilled main lobster with a pumpkin flan, smoked apple, and a pecan-brown butter vinaigrette.  The lobster was pretty good.  It was soft and sweet.  Coupled with the flan and smoked apple, it was pretty delicious for the cold appetizer.

The second course was the fois gras brulee with salted brioche, toasted cocoa nibs, and shaved torchon.  This was interesting at first.  The fois gras flavor is very strong in the brulee, so to some it might be a little too rich for some.  For me, it was fine.  I did have an issue with this dish though, and it’s a big one.  The brulee by itself was very salty.  So salty, that it was borderline difficult to eat.  I tried using the brioche to hopefully suppress the saltiness, but that didn’t help at all.  The brulee is also very thick and somewhat creamy, so if you are not fond of thick flavored food, you may not like this.

The third course is the pan roasted sea scallop with jamon iberico, chopped romesco, and a creamy cauliflower sauce.  The scallops were cooked perfectly and were very tender.  Coupled with the different ingredients, you basically tasted scallop with some sweet kick to it.  So far, this was my favorite even though it wasn’t that memorable.

The fourth course is the herb crusted lamb saddle with roasted sweetbreads, Thomcord grape, and Chanterelle mushroom.  The lamb was pretty good with the herb crust on top.  It was cooked rare, so the meat was soft and very tender.  The grapes seemed kind of odd to be on the plate, but surprisingly complemented the lamb.  The 2 other pieces apparently were roast sweetbreads lightly breaded and fried.  The piece next to the grape was the mushroom.  I thought the waitress said it was pork, so when I ate it, it reminded me of soft slow-cooked pork fat.

The fifth course is the 48 hour beef belly with caraway spiced heirloom squash and roasted quince.  If you’ve ever had braised beef in some type of reduction sauce, this is basically it with one exception.  The beef belly was VERY heavy in fat and flavor.  What I mean by this is that it’s literally like eating a spoonful of roasted bone marrow with some strands of meat in it.  The beef belly was very tender, but it was just extremely fatty and rich.

I’m sure the chef(s) knew that this was going to be a very rich tasting menu, so they gave us a palette cleanser.  This was very similar to a light lemon sorbet with some foam around it.  It definitely helped clean some of the 48 hour beef belly flavor that was stuck to the sides of my mouth.

The last course is the dessert, which is green apple mousse with peanut butter cream, celery leaf, and autumn spice.  The green apple mousse reminded me of almond tofu in some ways.  I didn’t really taste the green apple flavor that much for some reason.  There were some marshmallows that have been singed to the plate.  The peanut butter cream was a decent complement to the mousse though, but I found the celery leaves added absolutely nothing to the taste other than making the plate look nice.  The peanut butter cream was very powerful and was similar to eating caramel just with peanut flavors.  The long stick is some type of candy that cracks like a hollowed thin candy cane.  This dessert was just ok.

Out of everything I’ve had, I’d have to say my favorites were probably the pan roasted sea scallop and the herb crusted lamb saddle.  The fois gras brulee and 48 hour beef belly was slightly too rich for me for a 6 course meal.  The chilled main lobster was just ok, and the green apple mousse dessert was also just ok.  I’d have to say I felt this meal under delivered my expectations.

The ambiance of the restaurant was modern and trendy.  Service was pretty good in refilling our waters.  The actual meal service was a bit on the slow side which was a little odd for a restaurant of this caliber.  The front service woman seemed rather unfriendly and stern as if we don’t belong there.  But I’ll give her the benefit of the doubt it was because my friend and I were under dressed i.e. we wore a t-shirt and jeans to eat.  The other clientele were mostly dressed up to some extent.  It would probably be a good place to eat with a few friends or significant other(s) and if you weren’t a picky eater like me.

All in all, this restaurant was just OK for me and is marginally better than Rick Moonen’s seafood for Vegas fine dining.

Visit: http://www.arialasvegas.com/en/dining/restaurants/sage