I knew going to Las Vegas with Kyle and Jeff was going to be the best. Not only because I love them dearly, but because Jeff is the biggest foodie I know. And that's both in terms of knowing good food AND knowing how to cook the most ridiculously awesome food in the world. If you've read my posts about wine parties at Kyle and Jeff's, you know this to be true. Anyway, there was A LOT of conversation and MANY emails back and forth about where we were going to dine in Vegas. I mean, I won't lie… there were even spreadsheets.
We thought we had it mostly figured out when Jeff dropped a bomb on us. You see, he had heard about this restaurant. This "secret" restaurant that wasn't really so secret anymore. It was a José Andrés restaurant and it was called é and there were only two seatings a night with 8 people at each. Oh, and you had to send an email to the restaurant (the only contact info. on their website) a month in advance at midnight Vegas time (which happens to be 3:00 a.m. our time). We did a little research and a little reading and yup, we wanted to go. So, Jeff woke up at 3:00 a.m., sent off an email, and we hoped for the best, though we didn't expect much.
Not very long after, we found out we were IN! And not long after that, Jeff and Kyle got four golden tickets in the mail. Yup, golden tickets. I suddenly felt like Charlie Bucket and we were going to meet Willy Wonka! Too shiny to even take a photo of!
Dinner at é is pricey and we obviously knew that going into it. But having the best dining experiences in Las Vegas was important to us and we didn't want to scrimp. We also considered this dinner to be both a meal (a very, very large meal) and a show. There were eight guests in the entire restaurant and we saw pretty much everything the chefs did as they plated our courses. They had a choreography to their cooking and you could easily see how much time and perfection went into their every mood. It was not just a meal at all.
I mean. Doesn't it look like they're artists painting at their palettes? Because they are!
é is located in a private room in the back of José Andrés other Cosmopolitan restaurant Jaleo. We waited in Jaleo before our reservation and got to order drinks from their iPad menus.
Then we were taken to the back room.
This is the kind of meal where you want to sit and take notes on every little thing. Because it's 23 courses and there's no way you're going to remember everything, especially since you're eating so many things that are completely new to you. But you also don't want to take notes because you want to sit and enjoy yourself and see every little thing that's happening around you without distraction. And taking photos consumes more than enough of that time (even if you have your husband do it). So, though I can honestly say this was one of the best dining experiences of my life, I'm also not going to lie and say I remember every detail of what I ate. Or even that I knew exactly what I was eating at the time. I'm going to try to describe everything as best I can, though I'm probably leaving out some important details. Bottom line. This is one of the best meals I've ever had. Oh, and also it was 23 courses.
We started our meals with gin and tonics because apparently José Andrés is known for his gin and tonics. And yes, i see why. I tried the classic one with Hendrick's Gin, Fever Tree Tonic Water, lemon, kaffir lime, and juniper. Chris and Jeff both ordered different varieties and we all tried each other. YES! Now, please bring dinner on!
Our first course was also a cocktail of sorts; Rebujito. Sherry and orange blossom and liquid nitrogen, oh my. We could tell this meal was going to be a doozy from the start.
You've never eaten off of a hand before? You'e never had truffle cotton candy before? With gold flecks in it? OK, this night was clearly going to be a night of many firsts. Yes, the second course was served to us in a replica of José Andrés hand. And yes it was truffle cotton candy with gold flecks, which is basically cotton candy for adults and one of the best things in the world. You know how when you're little, you always wish your parents would get a cotton candy machine for your birthday parties? Well, now you're an adult and you want your own cotton candy machine to make truffle cotton candy for your dinner parties. Or at least I do. I can't be alone on this.
Paired alongside the cotton candy was a Idiazàbal "Macaron," which has me convinced that I should be making cheese macarons.
Next up: Apple "Brazo de Gitano." Basically an apple meringue, this was a play off of a Spanish dessert and while it wasn't my favorite dish of the evening, it was certainly interesting. And fun to eat. Airy on the outside, creamier on the inside; the consistency was like nothing I've ever had before.
The chefs were working quickly on this one. And right when they were done making the "snack," they said, "You have to eat it quickly in one bite!"
So, we all popped the Nitro Almond Cups into our mouths and were blown away. Liquid nitrogen almond cups with a nice light almond flavor and a creamy filling, topped with caviar. It immediately starts melting in your mouth and you're left with the saltiness of the caviar. Genius.
The Barquillo was another one of my favorites. The chefs took the traditional wafer cookie and filled it with silky smooth truffles and anchovies. Don't like anchovies? YES, YOU DO. Trust me on this one.
I loved watching them make this one, too.
On to course number seven: Mejillones in Escabeche. These are basically raw mussels, pickled in a bit of vinegar. When they told us about this dish before the meal, I was a little nervous. Raw mussels? Ick. Hands down one of my favorite dishes of the evening. Apparently I love raw mussels. Who knew.
Merienda literally means "snack" and we were about to indulge on our final "snack" of the evening. And really, doesn't snack just sound way too casual of a word to describe all of the above? Anyway, this was basically a take on a ham and cheese sandwich. And was the kind of "snack" that if it were served at a party, you'd find yourself eating an entire platter, not able to eat any other food. I thought Chris was going to ask for 10 more after he devoured the first one.
I know I keep calling every dish my favorite of the evening, but the Crispy Chicken Skin en Escabeche was another out of control delicious dish. But really, what's not to love about this one? Crispy chicken skin with chicken oysters and an escabeche style foam. Thank you and good night.
But wait! I haven't even told you about the Cava Sangria yet. Yes, there were little "cocktail" palate cleansers interludes during the meal. This was one of those things where every person who put it in their mouth had the same reaction: "whoa!" The cava sangria was "reverse spherified" and basically popped right away, filling your mouth with a cava sangria. Amazing. I need to learn to make this ASAP.
Next up was Artichoke "Puree" with Vanilla. Otherwise known as the best artichokes I've ever had in my life.
Jeff asked how this was a puree as, though it was as smooth as one, certainly didn't look like one. And the chef told us that "puree" was in quotes. A-ha. The vanilla foam was a nice touch, though I found it to be a tad bit overwhelming. I could have popped these artichokes as snacks all on their own!
Every good meal needs a little lobster. And Lobster with Citrus & Jasmine did not disappoint. While the lobster was delicious, my favorite thing about this dish was the detail that went into the presentation. First of all, look at the stunning plate. Second of all, know that the chefs "drew" an "é" with the sauce on the plate. And then immediately covered it with succulent pieces of lobster. But it's there. And it's that detail that seriously impressed me.
Time for some "Fabes" con Jamòn, otherwise known as ham and beans. But yes, it looked like two large eggs. And tasted like the best ham ever. But I mostly liked watching Jeff's face as he slurped up the broth in this one. I'm pretty sure he's going to attempt to re-create this dish really soon and I cannot wait.
Now we're on to number fourteen: "Kokotxas" Al Pil-Pil. I have to admit this was my least favorite dish. It was cod jowls. And they basically told us everything in this dish is typically thrown away as waste. That didn't bother me, but the fish had a distinct flavor to it that wasn't really up my alley. But still, look at how beautiful it is!
And then a whole Lobe of Foie Gras was brought out for us to gawk at for a minute.
Before we ate it. With a clementine juice poured over the top.
And a brushing of chocolate for good measure. Because when you're eating meals that consist of foie gras and chocolate? You're in a very happy place.
And then out came the Ibérico Pork.
Which we enjoyed with squid and parsley foam. There were a lot of "foams" throughout this dinner and I can most definitely say that the parsley was my favorite. All the essence of parsley without the actually leafy herb. Ibérico ham is often known as the best in the world and with this dish, I could see why. It pretty much melted in your mouth.
Oh wait. We still have to eat dessert. I thought Chris was going to die at this point. But he was still clearing his entire plates.
The Torta Pascualete with Cotton Candy was the first dessert. A dinner with two cotton candy courses? Dreams do come true!
This almost looked too pretty to eat and was also the cheese course, touching on both savory and sweet notes.
But oh my gosh, here comes the Flan. That's all the menu says: Flan. But this was SO MUCH MORE. And one of the prettiest dishes of the evening, in my own humble opinion. And that is saying a lot! This flan was served with orange crushed ice and had the best consistency ever. The dish tasted like an orange creamsicle and I feel like I need to try it again ASAP so I can commit it to memory and recreate it.
Everyone's heard of Pan con Chocolate, but have you ever seen it served this way?
A big bowl of bread with frozen chocolate sorbet that made you feel like it was simply chilled chocolate. Oh and a nice stream of olive oil. The chefs instructed us to enjoy a bite with everything mixed together. And who knew olive oil and chocolate went so well together in a giant bowl? Because I certainly didn't.
Like I said, all of the desserts were really my favorite and this next one is no exception: "Arroz con Leche."
Instead of caramelizing the top of the rice pudding, they put the rice pudding in a caramelized cone. I can't remember exactly what was so awesome about this, but I remember both the flavors and textures blowing my mind.
Lastly, but obviously not leastly, we were served a few desserts on one plate. First check out the 25 second Bizcocho. This sponge cake is baked in the microwave for five minutes and melts in your mouth.
The chocolates were good and especially the "fizzy" that really made me feel like I was in a Willy Wonka land.
And why not complete your meal with a little Cocoa Paper with Dried Strawberry. Who knew paper could be so delicious? Again, totally unique and actually following through on the taste.
We were all so full at this point, but so happy! And SO SO impressed by the team of chefs. See the photo below? That's how they served us our plates every single time. As a team, completely in synch with each other.
I know there are probably about one million and fifty things I forgot to tell you about this meal. Things I'll think about tomorrow or a week from now and be mad at myself for not including them in my post. But for now, I'm not sure how much more you could handle. Or really how much more I can handle. 23 courses? That's a lot. So, if you take anything from this post, take the fact that é is worth it. Don't think about it as xx dollars for a meal. Think about it as an experience, a show, and a wonderful evening to share with family and friends. I'm pretty sure we'll be talking about this meal with Kyle and Jeff for the rest of our lives. And hopefully re-creating parts of it with them, too!
At the very end of our dinner, they passed out a guest book and let us each know what number guest were were. I was guest #6,468
I was also pretty excited that we got to bring home a couple menus when we left. Phew! Glad I wasn't writing everything down. Though I have to say, the menu descriptions don't really share that much information. But a little is WAY better than nothing.
I love my friends! Thank you SO much Jeff for getting us this reservation. Now, where are going next??
Oh wait, one other awesome thing happened. I obviously tweeted about this delightful dinner. And the next day, I got a tweet back… From the one and only José Andrés himself!
Yeah, just José Andrés telling me he loves me. Best tweet ever in my life.
23 courses that I will never forget! Thank you, Las Vegas, José Andrés, and the incredible team of chefs at é 🙂