Not a Foodenquirer member yet? 
Sign in / Register 

La Cave – The Pioneer for Wine Bar Concept in Las Vegas

  • Article Author: Max Jacobson

La Cave – The Pioneer for Wine Bar Concept in Las Vegas

La Cave – The Pioneer for Wine Bar Concept in Las Vegas

expert_01 Max Jacobson Profile

When I first moved to Vegas at the end of 1999, one of the hottest properties was The Wine Cellar at the Rio, run by the autocratic and incorrigible Master Sommelier Barry Larvin, now back in London.

The Rio was ahead of its time. In subsequent years, the genre we call the wine bar has gained in popularity. Vegas now has several, such as Nora’s Wine Bar in Boca Park, the M Resort’s Hostile Grape and Double Helix, upstairs at the Palazzo.

Wynn Las Vegas has a dynamic Wine Director, Danielle Price, but was slow to catch on. Apparently, Steve Wynn needed to be convinced. The poor performance of their 24-hour coffee shop, Terrace Point, probably had the management here looking for a new concept. They have found one.

Part of Terrace Point, which remains open, is now home to La Cave, a concept created by N9Ne Group founder Michael Morton. The idea has legs, but it didn’t come without risk. His landlord at the Palms, George Maloof, isn’t pleased. The two men are now battling it out in court.

Still, it looks as if the risk is going to pay off. Mr. Wynn let Morton do his thing, and his instincts are spot on. To my mind, there are two huge advantages in this small, intimate, cleverly designed room. The first is that is has breathed new life into a moribund area of the casino, the long corridor leading to Country Club, where talented Carlos Guia elevates the steakhouse with Cajun flare.

The second, and to me the most compelling aspect, is that is offers an escape from the casino environment. Few places on the Strip, perhaps Joel Robuchon at the Mansion springs to mind, are oases from the loud and often jarring experience of dining-and imbibing-in gaming areas.

In fact, La Cave is more than just a wine bar. Matter of fact, Morton doesn’t even like the term. He’d call it sexy, for one thing. And if you look closely at the menu, it is referred to, in a subheading, as a “Wine and Food Hideaway”. There is even a little room here called Hideaway. I couldn’t find it, though. It was, I guess, hidden away.

To get here, take a turn down the corridor that heads to The Buffet. You know where that is. You don’t? Good. You enter through what looks like a giant glass revolving door, a modern gizmo that could have come from the set of the movie Inception.

Then, you enter a large, dark, rustic dining area. Toward the back, there is a swank bar with Enoteca wine machines that pour wines in varying quantities, directly from the bottle. Thirty-odd wines are thus available by the taste, half or full glass. There’s lots of wood in here, plus burlap, leather and glass. The atmosphere is cozy, dark, and dare I say it, quite European. There’s really nothing else like it on the Strip.

The paper menu card has food on one side, and a huge beer selection on the back. Tap Room features their beers on tap, a dozen premiums such as Strongbow Cider from England, and Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA from Delaware. Around two dozen beers are available by the bottle as well. I love Duvel from Belgium, and Unibroue, a Canadian brew.

The wine list has approximately 250 selections, at varying price. But you all know that I’m a foodie, and I’m mostly here for an eclectic menu of small plates created by Chef William DeMarco, an alumnus of First Food and Bar, where he cooked with Sam DeMarco, (no relation), and a protégé of Charlie Palmer, the guy food and French master chef.

DeMarco’s cooking is fun, tasty, and appropriate for what’s going on in here. You might start with halibut rillettes, a devilled paste made from the light, delicate fish that you spread on toasted baguette rounds like peanut butter. Bacon wrapped dates come with Blue cheese fondue. If you like something richer, cavatelli pasta, in a little crock with braised fennel, sausage and garlic, all blanketed in a creamy sauce, is it.

I actually liked everything I ate here, other than the frou-four little bon bon that they tried to pass off as “American chocolate cake”. Come on Mike, gimme a break. The flatbreads are spectacular, like one topped with ham, egg and cheese, and the Angus mini-burgers, with a chipotle mayo, get high marks as well.

For the Euro-trash crowd, there is a fine selection of cheeses at five bucks a pop. I tried two, the Landana aged Gouda, and fresh pecorino. Both were pitch perfect. I can’t remember the wine I drank, since by that point in the evening I was fairly lit up, but I’ll take a wild stab and guess that it was red, and French.

I need to put in a word for the fabulous Jennifer LaSala, the GM, and one of the most charming hosts in all the Western States. She keeps her troops in line here, so the service was terrific. The Patriots, by the way, wiped out the Jets on Monday Night Football, making my evening complete.  Everyone else, except maybe a few New Yorkers, seemed to be having an equally good time.

At Wynn Las Vegas. Open for lunch, dinner and post-midnight noshing.

Rate this Article :

  • (0 reviews)

Rating: 0.00 / 5

Related Articles

Related Videos

Related Recipes