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Barely a week goes by without me receiving an invitation to one do or other. Some are ridiculous – like the recent request for me to visit an abattoir in Accrington to sample their award winning tripe, still warm from the kill. Others meanwhile are sublime and recently included an offer of lunch with ex-Emmerdale starlet Amy Nuttall.
Now, with all due respect to busty ex-soap stars, I was particularly pleased to receive an invitation from none other than Steve Wynn, to visit his eponymous hotel in Las Vegas, especially in view of the current controversy raging around Britains proposed new super casinos.
Steve’s uber-establishment gives a whole new meaning to opulence and cost an amazing $2.3 billion to build, making it the planet’s most expensive B & B ever. I accepted, of course, and a few days later found myself in this remarkable edifice.
Vegas is no longer just about roulette and blackjack, as these mammoth resort hotels now concentrate on covering all their basis. World class shows are a given, as are fantastic health spas and world class golf courses – all that helps build up an appetite – and that’s where the Wynn really comes into its own.
Incredibly, under this one roof, are 18 different eating venues, 9 of which are specifically Fine Dining restaurants. More incredible still, each one is under the control of a leading chef, who – unlike in other establishments such as The Bellagio with Wolfgang Puck (Spago) or the Venetian with Thomas Keller (French Laundry) – are actually on site cooking for customers, rather than simply lending their prestigious names to an otherwise mediocre eatery. The result is a dining cornucopia, at least four of which are of Michelin standard.
Take Okada, their in-house Japanese restaurant, staffed by the acclaimed Tahashi Yagihashi, where every night truly memorable dishes, such as his Kobi Beef steaks, are prepared, as Peter Kay would say “a taste sensation”.
Then there’s Alex, a more traditional French establishment under the care of Alessandro Stratta, who learnt at the side of Alain Ducasse in France. Add to that a stunning modern fish restaurant Bartolotta Ristorante di Mare, Daniel Boulud’s own Brasserie and Mark LoRusso’s Tableau where he is creating unique haute American cuisine – and you’ll begin to get the picture.
The idea, of course, is to lock every guest in, so that the blandishments to be found elsewhere on the strip go undiscovered.
From a country whose previous major culinary claim to fame was the invention of the dubious “surf and turf”, its incredible how recent years has seen them accelerate to the top of the fine dining league.
America has always been good at service – as long as you don’t mind tipping every opened door and replaced napkin – but now the food itself is every bit as eye-catching.
We hear continuously about the advent of new super casinos in the UK and how they come with a “health warning” of potential dangers. If, however, they come with in house food remotely of this calibre then they will help – not hinder – the leisure industry, especially culinary black holes such as Blackpool.
Truly the win win – or should that be Wynn-win – scenario, we all crave?