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sage (3 of 26)

I used to do Vegas all wrong; I used to hang out in the casinos, walk around aimlessly, and wander in and out of the clubs. These days when I visit Sin City I only go for a couple reasons: the restaurants and the pool parties (and the opportunity to find a bathtub I can actually fit in, which is rare).

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When I heard that Chef Shawn McClain put together the menu at Sage flanked by a Master Sommelier built wine program I was certainly interested.

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One of the things I really liked about Sage was how affordable it was overall (on the fine dining level) $59 for an early evening menu and $90 for the tasting menu. Why waste your time gambling when you can eat your hard earned dollars?

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It also helps to travel with lots of pretty women – this kind of thing is actually quite common in Vegas with Sheiks rolling around with their entourages of beautiful girls. If there was a place to buy a Sheik outfit I would’ve certainly picked one up, but alas all I had was a sport coat. 

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Another thing I like about dining in Las Vegas and NYC is you can find waiters that really love hospitality. A front of the house service team that is committed not only to establishing a rapport with the table, but ensuring the experience is memorable and surprising. From start to finish, our service was fantastic at Sage. Our plates were changed several times when they easily could’ve been pushed through a couple courses, we were sent special courses that we did not order, and the sommelier made excellent selections demonstrating an impressive acumen.

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An Amuse Bouche appeared moments after we ordered our first courses of Vancouver Island Kushi Oysters with a piquillo pepper, tabasco sorbet, and an aged tequila Mignonette. This was simply delicious, extremely fresh – the perfect balance of briney, spice, and heat. I loved the creativity of the tabasco sorbet.

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This was quickly becoming one of those meals where I simply took pictures and eschewed taking notes to gorge myself on food and wine. The bread service was on par with my favorite bread services to date (Melisse and Bouley) and the ever so intrinsic of soft, spreadable butter also made an appearance alongside some Himalayan pink salt from Pakistan (pink due to the high percentage of iron).

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The slow-poached organic farm egg with smoked potato and shaved black truffles was just simply heaven. One of those meals that you can eat before they botch your execution in Oklahoma.

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Runny egg, bread, and truffle. Done and Done.

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When I told my dear friend and Vegas cognoscenti that I was coming into Sage, he insisted upon one dish, the Foie Gras Custard Brulee. I love Foie Gras, but I am always finicky about pushing the ingredient too far.

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It requires really careful preparation and a desire to let the ingredient shine on it’s own or supported by an appropriate cast of characters. This presentation did not disappoint, we actually ordered an additional one for the table – it was that good.

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From the limestone-rich slopes of the Beaune appellation in Burgundy we selected our bottle – from the Premier Cru vineyard Les Bressandes and the library collection at Remoissenet Père et Fils.

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I thought this wine was priced really well and drank so beautifully in that handsome stemware. Though the wine was certainly the more modern side of Burgundy I really enjoyed it; an initial tightness dissipated quickly releasing rich earthtones, plum, sage, and some background spice. This wine was really sexy, kind of like a Catherine Zeta-Jones wine, gorgeous color and light – medium body but it coated the palate in a way that pleased my fruit bomb loving companions.

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The roasted sweetbreads weren’t life changing, but they were excellent and well prepared. I liked the vessel they were served in, and the addition of bacon which rarely detracts from a dish. sage (16 of 26)

The dish that made it completely ok that I was going home alone was the 36 Hour Braised Wagyu Short Rib. Effortlessly broken down with a fork and supported by an utterly delicious horseradish smoked Potato Pave with a red onion jam and roasted parsnips. Outstanding.

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Maine Day Boat Scallops with a braised oxtail jus. Scallops are really easy to screw up, and these were done perfectly with a crust and tender not rubbery flesh. Truly exciting flavor combination.

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Though we were totally full up by the time the last plate was cleared we were offered a selection from what is likely the largest absinthe collection I have seen in North America.

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Though I was intrigued we declined, only to be offered a complimentary taste as well as a demonstration of the fountain (I had to go out and purchase one after seeing this) by the highly knowledgeable service staff.

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I loved watching the clear liquid go to opaque and eerie green. If there was an opium den nearby to lay down in, I might have been tempted to do that too.

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We were also given a taste of some bubbly chocolate egg cream to finish off the meal. This was malty, chocolatey and delicious.

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Sage. Highly recommended.