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Vegas' Best Summer Restaurants

| June 9, 2015 | Home Page

With The Country Club, Mizumi, Lakeside, and Terrace Pointe Café, Wynn offers a delightful outdoor dining experience to suit every whim.

Grilled fresh hearts of palm with sugar snap peas, watermelon radish, and a goji berry/passion fruit marinade at The Country Club.

The recipe for properly enjoying spring and summer begins with a beautiful meal of the freshest food served in the plushest, most verdant outdoor setting. Imagine savoring strawberries and Champagne while birds fly high above lofty trees and impeccably manicured lawns and koi cavort in a stream near a waterfall. All in the middle of the Mojave Desert.

“When I talk to the guests on the patio, they can’t believe what a great setting it is, and they can’t believe they’re in Las Vegas anymore,” says chef Carlos Guía of Wynn’s The Country Club. “Even for me, in the afternoon, I like to take a break and walk out there and take in nature and collect my thoughts.”

Perhaps those walks inspired Guía’s new menu items. “You have some lighter ingredients in spring and summer,” he says, “like our grilled fresh hearts of palms with sugar snap peas, watermelon radish, and a goji berry/passion fruit marinade, or the baby heirloom tomatoes that I’m pairing with Burrata cheese, basil blossoms, chia seeds infused with basil, olive oil, and balsamic reduction—things that remind you of nature and go great with the outdoor experience.” The fact that certain ingredients appear only fleetingly in the brief interlude before summer’s steam returns makes them all the more prized. “I always look forward to spring’s wild ramps,” the chef adds. “That’s my personal favorite, with the wonderful garlicky notes. Morels are another one.”

A waterfall view from The Country Club’s patio.

As summer sets in, Guía likes to tantalize guests with watermelon gazpacho. “It’s a perfect dish for the patio once watermelon season hits,” he says. “It’s very refreshing and light with cilantro, crab meat, and avocado.” Country Club diners can pair the soup with the most floral of white wines. “A lot of our guests like to start with Champagne on the patio, but a little Viognier is nice, light, and fruity. Personally, I like a nice bourbon cocktail when I sit outside and take in that beautiful view.”

Guía isn’t the only Wynn chef who finds the tranquility of nature just outside his kitchen. “If you close your eyes when you’re out there and you hear the water, it relaxes you because it’s like being at the beach,” says Mizumi chef devin hashimoto, describing the restaurant’s outdoor dining area and two 90-foot waterfalls. “hearing it with your eyes closed and eating the food, it transports you to another place. it’s really very peaceful.”

Diners can enjoy their yellowtail sashimi and jalapeño gelée outdoors at one of four tables within a pagoda that juts out into a lagoon full of koi, or they can take in the peaceful setting from inside, when the Japanese restaurant’s sliding glass panels are opened to an idyllic view of meditative gardens. “it changes the entire dynamic of the restaurant,” says Hashimoto, “because you feel the breeze coming through and you hear the waterfall.”

Lakeside’s elegant patio.

The chef has studiously created a menu to match the milieu. New this season are 72-hour-braised American Wagyu short ribs, with wasabi pea coulis, baby artichoke tempura, fava beans, shimeji mushrooms, and red wine miso sauce. And one of his most popular spring dishes, bacon-wrapped asparagus, echoes the change of seasons. “i just love the transition from the cold to the blossoming greens: ice is melting, earthiness is popping out all over the place,” says hashimoto in describing his plans for asparagus, peas, and fava beans.

At lakeside, chef David Walzog also has his eye on spring’s bounty—morels and chanterelles, ramps and spring peas, fiddlehead ferns and fava beans. “As a chef, each and every one of us gets really, really excited about what spring has to offer,” he says. “it’s definitely the season when the ingredients bring punch to the plate. Spring ingredients can certainly carry a dish in their vibrancy and potency of flavors.”

That statement applies equally to the wild-caught seafood for which Lakeside is known. Not only does Walzog serve the freshest, tastiest fish from Hawaiian and other waters— with five to seven different offerings on the menu each day—but the season’s cornucopia of flavors can be found in the restaurant’s four accompanying seafood preparations. The first is a light citrus mix, with candied kumquat, chervil, dill, orange, and tangerine segments in extra-virgin olive oil. The Asian-inspired selection features a medley of pickled Japanese daikon, sesame, and grilled scallions in soy and yuzu. The Mediterranean preparation consists of grilled artichokes, roasted tomatoes, green olives, and celery in an oregano vinaigrette. And the fourth combines confit mushrooms, white sturgeon caviar, herbs, and beurre blanc.

Chef Walzog’s Hawaiian dayboat-caught swordfsh.

Lakeside’s fresh-caught seafood may be the restaurant’s biggest draw, but the chef gives credit where it’s due. “We are privileged to have a magical dining setting,” he says. “It’s our secret weapon.” After dusk, the three-acre Lake of Dreams and its mountain backdrop offer a visual spectacle to match the food, with light and water shows every half-hour featuring holograms, vibrant imagery, and giant puppets accompanied by the sing-along classics of Louis Armstrong and Garth Brooks. “It’s a wonderful visual theater that’s part of the dining experience,” Walzog says. “It’s really second-to-none.”

Diners at the more casual, two-level Terrace Pointe Café are treated to a show of their own, with remarkable views in the shade of towering trees. But they can also catch glimpses of the resort’s sun worshippers, and chef Emilio La Scala acknowledges that the popularity of the café’s patio is helped by its location facing the Wynn pool: “It’s definitely in high demand right now. As soon as there’s a little sun out there, everyone wants to sit outside.” Add a plate of shareable appetizers to the sunshine to complete the alfresco experience. La Scala is currently featuring heirloom tomato gazpacho, shoyu ahi tuna on a blue corn tostada, and roasted Scottish salmon in a very light herb citrus sauce that’s ripe with seasonal ingredients. “We also do lots of salad specials for summer,” says La Scala, “like a panzanella as well as an open-face Burrata and tomato sandwich, and some new vegan items, like a Key lime shake made with fresh avocados.”

Cocktails are essential to patio dining, the chef adds. With Terrace Point Café being a breakfast and lunch destination, its guests most often opt for Bellinis, Champagne, or mojitos, but La Scala has another suggestion: the ShowStopper. Named for Steve Wynn’s new musical spectacular, the cocktail is a refreshing citrus blend of blood orange, orange liqueur, and bourbon. Of course, you could argue that with the globe’s finest chefs serving spring’s freshest ingredients in some of the most theatrical settings in the world, dining alfresco anywhere at Wynn is a showstopping experience.


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