Tuesday 2 April 2013

é by José Andrés, Las Vegas

é by José Andrés, Las Vegas
I'm not entirely sure how to start this. It feels a bit like food Jackanory. I'm going to tell you a tale of a secret room in a city made of glitter and gold with a wall full of drawers filled with memories...

é by José Andrés, Las VegasI'm not going to do my usual 'review' of é by José Andrés. I'm going to tell you a story with pictures. Before I start, know this. This restaurant doesn't have a Michelin star because Michelin haven't done a Las Vegas guide since 2009 and the restaurant opened in January 2011. They use liquid nitrogen but they are nothing like The Fat Duck, they use spherification yet do not aim to be El Bulli and use plants in their simplest form but do it nothing like Noma.

I'm pretty sure that José Andrés thought 'balls to it' when he created é. This restaurant is hidden at the back of his Spanish tapas restaurant, Jaleo. It's all very covert. The website tells you nothing about the food or restaurant. There's just a logo and an email address. They have not spent a penny on advertising. We Googled how to get a reservation, but had to rely on bits and bats we found rather than a definitive 'how to'. There is no online booking system, and they are not on OpenTable like every other restaurant in Las Vegas. It's almost like they don't exist...

é is notoriously difficult to get in because it only has eight seats (really), but there are some tips I can share...

How to get a Reservation at é
  • Send your email to reserve@ebyjoseandres.com one calendar month before you wish to dine.
  • You must email dead on 12am PST. Reservations are given in the order that they are received.
  • Explain why you want to go. 
  • Give alternative dates and times - bear in mind there are only two dinner services. One is around 5.30pm and the other at 9.30pm.
  • Even after you have a reservation, it's not confirmed until you return your signed confirmation. This is sent via email a couple of days later.  
As you walk into Jaleo in the Cosmopolitan Hotel, you still have no idea where this restaurant might be, as the door is camouflaged into the wall. Jaleo is a bustling restaurant offering quite casual dining. We sat at a table and were offered a drink whilst we waited for the other six diners. We were really looking forward to seeing what type of people also wanted to come to such an obscure dining location. When they arrived it was soon apparent that we would not be chatting fine dining! Three were Japanese and the other three were Spanish. None of them spoke English! Oh well, my Japanese and Spanish aren't great either...

The restaurant itself is tiny. A curved bar with a prep station sit in the middle of a small room; its walls covered in little drawers. José Andrés has filled these with mementos of his favourite food memories  Although I hope that there's no rotting food in there... 

The Menu
The menu consists of 25 small courses. To accompany your meal, you can have a wine, beer or juice pairing. My husband picked beer while I had juice. The dish titles don't really give much away, and even when they appear they often don't taste as expected! Chef Cody and his assistants are entertainers of the highest order.

I have split the pictures into sections as it does on the menu. I won't go on about every dish, but I'll give the highlights of each round. The pictures say it all really, but I'll add in a few words too.
é by José Andrés, Las Vegas - Menu
Part 1
I spent most of this part of the menu being utterly flabbergasted! Highlights included the truffle cotton candy flecked with gold leaf and served on a replica of Andrés' own hand, and the bocata de bacalao which was a salted fish dish in a little brioche bun. All these dishes were designed to be eaten in one bite and made use of varied texture as well as flavour. Everything was plated infront of us and described in the minutest detail.
é by José Andrés, Las Vegas - Menu Part 1
Part 2
The dishes in the second part of the menu were slightly more substantial and generally had more components. The yellow dish in the middle left of the photograph below is the chickpea stew with Iberico ham. This was sensational. The 'chickpeas' were actually chickpea puree made into chickpea shapes through the process of spherification, and the other flavours in the dish were essences or oils. Very clever indeed! Although I don't eat foie gras, the presented 'whole lobe' was pretty impressive too.
é by José Andrés, Las Vegas - Menu Part 2
Part 3
By this point we had already eaten eighteen dishes. They may have been small, but we were dying from sensation overload! Saying that, we were onto my favourite bit... desserts. I knew this is where the magic would happen! The show was spectacular. There was flambéed sangria, Andrés' take on the popular Spanish 'flan' and an outstanding little cone of 'arroz con leche', which is similar to cinnamon rice pudding. 

The meal is finished off with '25 second bizcocho' which is a cake baked in the microwave and 'air chocolates' which melt in the mouth in seconds.
é by José Andrés, Las Vegas - Menu Part 3
é by José Andrés is a fantastic culinary experience. We felt a little like voyers, only they could see us. Rather than booking a table at a restaurant, you have been invited into a private dining room where you are shown the secrets behind making the dishes, and the serving is turned into the greatest show in Vegas. 

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