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September 2, 2014

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Viva Las Vegan: Wynn/Encore, Aria, Harrah’s getting in on some grassroots vegan action

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John Katsilometes

Vegan-friendly, dark chocolate-almond cake at Tableau (for extra credit, whose hand is that in the shot?).

In the days after I embarked on My Vegan Summer, word began to seep out of Wynn Las Vegas that Steve Wynn had himself turned vegan.

This made perfect sense to me, as I’ve understood that Wynn sets his diet according to the innumerable food notes I run in this column. If I were to start writing about My Tapioca Pudding summer, we would expect Mr. Wynn to start stocking cases of Kozy Shack – the Cadillac of Tapioca.

In fact, I’ve not verified from the man himself that he is vegan. But this has seemed to be the case for a few weeks, at both Wynn and Encore, as the restaurants are behaving as if the man in charge would like vegan options on his menus.

How can you tell? They are offering vegan options on his menus.

Announced today, formally, was a long list of vegan options out of Wynn and Encore. I’ll pull right from the company news release, which was sent this afternoon:

“Special vegan dishes include Fava Bean Puree with sautéed hon shimeji mushrooms, snap pea salad and aged balsamic vinegar at Alex and the Market Chopped Salad with avocado, carrots, celery, pumpkin seeds, edamame and tarragon vinaigrette at Society Café Encore. Hearty entrée options—such as the Summer Vegetable Gratin at Botero, Risotto con Verdure di Stagione, risotto whipped with seasonal vegetables at Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, and Napoleon of Savory Tofu with ratatouille and fried eggplant at Tableau—entice vegan and non-vegans alike. The Country Club excites palettes with a vegan version of their popular Watermelon Gazpacho with avocado, jicama, tomato, cucumber, cilantro and yucca crisp, while Stratta offers Whole Wheat Pasta Primavera, a vegan take on the Italian American staple.

“SW, Wynn’s signature steakhouse, serves crave-worthy vegan dishes such as Grilled Royal Trumpet Mushrooms with creamy polenta and shallot balsamic sauce.

Wazuzu’s Vegan Crunch Roll with crispy asparagus, avocado, cucumber and arare, Okada’s Vegan Cold Soba Noodle and Wing Lei’s Crispy Tofu with sugar pea, water chestnut, carrot and bean sprout feature flavorful Asian ingredients. Decadent desserts such as Blueberry Cobbler with toasted almond ice cream at Sinatra and Banana Crepes with coconut ice cream, avocado mousse at Switch provide a sweet close to any meal.”

What it all means is My Vegan Summer is heating up! I understand that company president and chief executive officer Andrew Pascal also turned vegan over the summer, and if so, I would bet the house – even his house – that mid-afternoon naps have to be part of his daily routine. They have to be. Living vegan with the schedule of a high-ranking resort executive can simply wipe you out. So if you see Pascal padding around the property, wearing a glazed countenance and a rumpled suit, you’ll know why.

I’ve already had one vegan meal at Wynn/Encore, at Tableau. Creamy corn soup, chop salad, and a rockin’ dark chocolate-almond cake with coconut sorbet a fresh fruit medley that was as good as any dessert, vegan or not, in the city. Outstanding.

And I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention that Aria at City Center and the restaurants owned by Harrah’s are also embracing vegan menus. I’ve been offered a world tour of Aria restaurants to sample the vegan-ness of them all, and baby that will happen soon. I'm always hungry. The Aria lineup: The Buffet, Jean Georges Steakhouse, Bar Masa, Julian Serrano and America Fish. These places are all vegan-friendly, and I plan to report back with how that collective holds up against my rapidly advancing vegan palate. And tonight, I’m enjoying a vegan burger at, of all places, Serendipity 3 at Caesars Palace. Yeah-yeah.

I’ll let you know how it turns out. Meanwhile, let us toast – with a shot of wheat grass! – the vegan efforts by these companies. This might work out after all.

Follow John Katsilometes on Twitter at twitter.com/JohnnyKats.

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