Food and Food: Las Vegas and Travels29 Mar 2010 07:45 pm

Sinatra opened with the rest of Encore in December 2008. It is, for all intents and purposes, a themed restaurant, based around: you guessed, Frank Sinatra.

I remember reading about it and Switch (a restaurant that changes decor several times as you eat) and thinking how insane it was that Steve Wynn was building something so tacky and tasteless.

However, after eating there I can only say it’s done in the classiest of ways. Sure, there is a constant hum of Frank Sinatra tunes as you eat (there is a three or four hour loop of his hits playing), and he looms over your table on larger-than-life portraits, peers at you along side Steve Wynn from the menu and is the namesake of a few menu items (for instance the Sinatra Smash cocktail or Osso Bucco “my way”), but these are all small details compared to the delicious Italian classics that come from the kitchen.

The restaurant is an homage to Frank Sinatra, and would go down very well with super fans. I am not a fan. I mean, I know of him, and I can name at least two songs, but I did not want to dine at Sinatra because I love Ol’ Blue Eyes. I went for the Italian, and suspect many of the other diners did as well.

The restaurant was but 50 steps from our hotel room door, and was an extremely busy place. You could barely make out the strains of Frank over the buzz of diners. We had to wait a few moments for a table, and grabbed cocktails in the lounge while we waited. Extremely strong cocktails. I always say this about Vegas drinks, and maybe it’s because I’m a light weight, but maybe it just because they know how to pour a drink there.

Mike’s limoncello-raspberry cocktail and my modern Manhattan.

Packed! With many large parties.

It was still too chilly in February to sit on the patio, but I heard it’s quite lovely.

Lasagne bolognese: Screaming hot layers of pasta with a rich meat sauce and creamy cheese. I kind of felt like it could have used some spice to kick it up a notch, but it made for a very satisfying dinner. It’s also piqued my interest in making lasagne at home sometime soon.

The menu is well cultivated, with a cross section of the most famous Italian dishes, but nothing extraneous. Four kinds of pasta, a smattering of fish and meat dishes, and that’s it. You’d think it would be easier to pick meals, but we still struggled.

Mike got the osso bucco, which was outstanding. The marrow turned into a beefy jelly inside the bone, with the meat staying succulent and tender outside. It came with a refreshing gremolata.

One of our appetizers was crab risotto cakes, on a tomato sauce. Extremely tender seafood set in a crisp risotto case. Just the right size to balance the two, but three on a plate for two people made fighting over the last one necessary.

Pannacotta. I haven’t had truly memorable pannacotta since last year, but these were a reminder of how good it could be. Even the fruit was a reminder of how good fruit could be. (Ugh, is summer here yet?)

Overall, I enjoyed our visit to Sinatra. Considering we were waffling over where to go that evening and eventually just went with the closest restaurant to us we were interested in, our decision turned out to be a good one.

Service was well practiced, and I really enjoyed our server. She was friendly, helpful when we needed her to be and just brash enough to have made Sinatra proud. Although I admitted I was not a Frank fan, she still brought over some books the restaurant keeps on hand for fans. It was kind of cool to see what the Rat Pack used to get up to in Vegas. I think they’d have kept well-worn seats at a place like Sinatra.

Although I’m not sure I would elevate Sinatra to the “must visit again” list on the Vegas restaurant compilation, it was a memorable, romantic meal. I would definitely return to the bar again for a nightcap before stumbling up to the room at Encore.

Sinatra (at Encore)
Las Vegas, Nevada
open for dinner only, 5-11pm

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