Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2012 | 6 p.m.
Last month, Eater released its list of the 11 toughest restaurant reservations in the world and how to get them, a kind of gastronomic wish list for those who fancy dining under the watch of A-list toques. The list includes such sought-after tables as Copenhagen’s Noma (No. 1 on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list), where you’ll have to battle 20,000 people when reservations open up on the sixth day of the month for three months out, and a 10-seat Tokyo sushi bar where you need a local on your arm to get in the door. All in all it’s a depressing reminder that most of us will never get to eat at these bastions of culinary prowess.
But don’t despair. The list also includes restaurants by chefs that have outposts in Vegas, places where you can get a table and a killer meal without having to know the GM’s mom or time your reservation call to the cycles of the moon.
No. 8 on Eater’s exclusivity list is Minibar by José Andrés, the D.C. hot spot located inside Andrés’ American Eats Tavern that offers an international tasting menu for just six diners per seating. The Vegas counterpoint is é—another Andrés mini-restaurant located next to Jaleo at the Cosmopolitan—where eight diners per seating can experience a 26-course tasting of modern and traditional Spanish dishes for $160.
“All of the focus is on the chefs and the cooking,” says Jaleo and é GM Michael Ploetz. “Not everything is as it seems, but it’s all very delicious.”
And the best news? é is still relatively under-the-radar. When the room opened last January, there was little fanfare or promotion to announce its arrival. “We wanted the space to build itself,” Ploetz says, adding that since é doesn’t have a phone number, “people really have to seek it out. The guest has to have heard about it from someone else.”
While the restaurant is roughly 96 percent booked these days, according to Ploetz, you can still get a table. Like Minibar, é begins taking reservations a month in advance via email (firstname.lastname@example.org) and usually sells out in 10 to 15 days (as opposed to Minibar’s 15 minutes). And, if you’re working on shorter notice, it’s always worth giving Jaleo a call to see if something’s opened up. For Valentine’s Day (a night the restaurant is usually closed), é still has four spots open for the 8:30 p.m. seating. And if é sounds like something you’re interested in, better act soon. You never know when it’ll become the next Minibar or, for that matter, French Laundry.
Thomas Keller’s the French Laundry in Yountville, California is No. 10 on the list, and for good reason. The restaurant is a spot that chefs gush over, a foodie magnet where Keller’s team creates two nine-course tasting menus every day without repeating a single ingredient throughout the meal. To get a table, you’ll need to call two months in advance, put yourself on the wait list and maybe sacrifice a truffle or two to the gods of fine dining.
If that sounds like a pain, it is, but Las Vegans can experience Keller’s cuisine without leaving town at the Venetian’s Bouchon. A decidedly more casual bistro, Bouchon serves a menu of elegantly prepared French classics for well below the French Laundry’s $270 prix fixe tariff. Is it a once-in-a-lifetime meal set in small-town Northern California? Not quite, but from the cheese selection to the raw bar to the steak frites, the food is delicious and accessible. On a recent Friday afternoon, a call to the restaurant produced tables for two at 6:45 p.m. or 8:30 p.m., though dinner primetime was already booked. Make your plans a few days in advance and you’ll be able to dine on Keller’s perfectly roasted chicken and cauliflower gratin whenever you want.